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USC-Texas game notes with Scott Huber

USC-Texas game notes with Scott Huber

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There alway seems to be a debate after every USC football game about whether or not the Trojans deserve a heavy dose of praise or criticism from the media.

Instead of furthering that debate, usc247.com is looking to end it. We caught up with former USC football tight end (and longtime football coach) Scott Huber for his takes on USC’s game against Texas.

Huber jotted down plenty of notes and we interviewed him for 35 minutes. Here’s what we came up with.

COACHING

“Both teams were 1-1 and it appeared that both coaches that both coaches are kind of on the hot seat but for different reasons. Coach (Tom) Herman at Texas, every coach has a short lease at Texas. He was supposed to be the miracle worker from Houston, the savior. It kind of ended up being a continuation of Charlie Strong last year. I know Texas fans were disappointed in that. He really hasn’t moved the needle at all in his first season. I think they may have even taken steps back.”

“(Clay) Helton is a little bit different. You have more supporters of Helton obviously, he won a Rose Bowl, he won a Pac-12 championship. But there are a lot of Trojans who feel like this being his third full season, he really has to prove he can be successful without Sam Darnold and that Sam Darnold wasn’t solely responsible for his success. I always felt like, after watching the first three games where he didn’t start Darnold, that he probably should have split his salary with Darnold. He saved his job. I don’t think he would have made it out of that first season with Darnold.”

“I think many alums believe a better coach, that team that Darnold was on his first year, with two really good offensive tackles and a solid line, a lot of really solid players that Kiffin and Sark had recruited, they were far more talented than this group this year. I think we would have won it all that year if we had a different coach. I think a lot of people believe that.”

“Helton basically needs to prove he doesn’t have Charlie Weis syndrome. Which is you start off well, winning with other coaches’ players and then you tank every year. And it appears after the results of the Texas game that he certainly does have Charlie Weis syndrome.” 

“We also have to take into consideration that last week, we could say Stanford might be a good football team. We can’t sit here and say, hey Texas is a good football team. That’s not true. They got blown out by a bad Maryland football team and they barely scraped by Tulsa. Tulsa should be a 1-AA school. And they dominated us in all three phases of the game.”

“I was looking through one of my friends instagrams, he’s moving to Kansas City, Larry Parker, he played at USC before I did but there’s one year overlap. He played at Kansas City and he made a great comment. Because we’ve had a top 5 or 10 recruiting class every year. Every year we do, great recruits. At this point, we’re out of those Carroll years where we could go pick guys around the nation and get the best guys from around the nation. Right now, we’re getting those classes because we’re keeping the best California athletes here. It makes you wonder because this is straight from what Larry said. Is the level of football in California dropping? As a coach here, it is. Less kids are playing football, there’s less competition. So when you have good players on a good team, chances are four or five of the teams they play during the year are going to be no good at all. So are a lot of these kids that are four and five-star recruits in California, are they fake five-star recruits? So we’re getting all these recruits that are supposed to be big and bad but either the staff isn’t developing them or they’re fake four-stars because the competition level isn’t good. We look like a bunch of fake four-stars.”

“It just begs the question when you watch the game, haven’t we had really good recruiting classes? Where are these guys? So it makes you think, is our strength and conditioning program not up to par? I knew a week or two before, on the UNLV notes when I gave my breakdown, someone had commented because I said, well we want to be like Alabama, don’t we and Alabama blows these teams out, he said we don’t want to be like Alabama, we want to be like the Trojan teams from yesterday. Well those Trojan teams of yesterday that were Pete Carroll’s teams, he modeled them, when we first met, Chris Carlisle came into the players room and said listen, we aren’t strong enough right now. The strong team wins. And our benchmark for strength at the time, he made that parallel to the Nebraska teams of the 1990s that won all those championships. These are the lifting numbers of the national championship Nebraska team from 1995, the Nebraska team known for being the biggest, strongest, most physical team in history, these are their numbers. Ina year, we’re going to do better than that and if we do, we’ll physically dominate. And it worked, right? You have to model yourself off somebody so we want to model ourselves off whoever’s great now because they’re doing a better job than we are. So either we’re recruiting the wrong guys, or we’re not making enough out of them or we’re not putting them in successful positions to win. Either way that’s coaching. Recruiting is coaching, coaching is coaching. Either way something has gone wrong.”

“We lost in all three phases of the game by a huge margin. We lost the turnover battle, I don’t think we’ve won the turnover battle this year. Whoever wins the turnover margin in the game is 70-80 percent more likely to win the game. Just bad stuff all around. I think we’re in trouble for the rest of the season.”

“Right now, our offensive line and our defensive backfield need to change. Just like, if they have freshmen, put in freshmen. What else do you say?”

OFFENSE

“I think it was deceptively sloppy from the start. We came out and Texas came out, obviously watched the Stanford tape, and said, hey, let’s do what Stanford did. Let’s make USC beat us that way. And so they came out playing the same scheme, six men in the box, sometimes five in the box, forcing USC to run. We tried even less to run this week than the week before and we had zero success even when we tried. For people that aren’t so familiar with schemes, if you have six men blocking and they have six men in the box, you should be able to run the ball all day long. Even having seven men in the box against the run is seen as a situation in which the offense should win. We were running the ball with Texas having six and sometimes five men in the box and we were still missing people, we were still having run throughs. Our double teams still were not picking guys up and this was on the regular across the board.” 

“Last week I said, oh we have ten guys doing the right thing and one guy screwing up and it wasn’t one guy all the time, so that’s a positive. Well, now it’s turned from a positive to a negative. What I’m starting to believe is maybe we’re just that bad across the board, that we don’t have any guys that can go a significant amount of time without making huge mental errors. So when the game started, from just an overview prospective, if you were just casually watching the game, you would say, oh okay, things are looking pretty good, JT Daniels is hitting his targets, we broke a big run for a touchdown. We’re not looking too bad. But for me I was really studying the game and from the start, the first play was indicative of the rest of the game.” 

“The first play out the box was, we had our left guard and left tackle completely miss a guy on a run through. The guy made the tackle and not only did number 70 (Chuma Edoga) completely whiff his block but Cedric Ware also clipped a guy. So we had a clip and we still couldn’t make any yards. So we had a run through on the backside, a clip on the frontside and no push on the right say which was the way the play went.”

“As far as Cedric Ware goes, the first game where he rushed for 100 yards, I was a little bit skeptical because it was UNLV. And even talking to my brother Todd (Huber), who did a ll the recruiting stuff for student sports, he told me, you know Scott there’s a reason he didn’t play more for four years. Now I know why. He’s a really liability unless you’re handing him the ball in situations that are set up for him to win. He’s not going to be able to block in the pass game, he’s not going to be able to block in the run game and I really think we need to move on from him in the rotation.”

“The next play, pass to Cedric Ware, he drops the ball. So that’s two plays, the first two plays of the game, on him, dropped. Good teams don’t blow two plays in the row at the beginning of the game. Especially the second one, the pass, he was wide open, he could have ran for something. It was just indicative of the rest of the game.” 

“From the beginning of the game, Texas’ d-line, if you’re really paying attention, their d-line was collapsing the pocket and resetting the line of scrimmage from the start of the game.”

“JT Daniels, even in the first quarter, I don’t know if he was spooked from the last game. He got pressured a lot in the last game and he’s a young quarterback. He should still be in high school and he’s acting like a guy out of high school who’s spooked. So he’s acting like a real freshman at this point. They mentioned it later in the game in the broadcast but I was picking it up from the first quarter. He’s not stepping into his throws, he’s not leaning into his throws. Most of his throws, he’s leaning back and occasionally, if you’re watching the game, after he throws the ball, he runs backwards. Which is a problem. It tells you he has no confidence in the offensive line, it’s telling you he’s getting a little punch drunk from getting hit and when quarterbacks start throwing off their back foot, they start throwing interceptions and they lose their accuracy. That bleeds over to the rest of the team.”

“At the beginning of the game, Texas was collapsing the pocket on our tackles, right off the bat. A good pass set technique from an offensive tackle, the tackle will not turn his shoulders until he’s almost at the depth of the quarterback. They do this to prevent the pocket from collapsing. Our tackles, because they were getting beat by speed and by strength, they were turning their shoulders immediately with their back to the quarterback and getting pushed right into his line of sight, from the start. So Texas, their d-line was winning from the start of the game.” 

“We were still moving the ball in the first quarter, the first and the second quarter. But really, it wasn’t about our team doing well. It wasn’t about our offense clicking and everybody doing their job and moving it. The way we were converting early on is JT Daniels was making really great throws to his receivers, threading the needle, converting the down in difficult situations and just kind of doing what he had to do to move the ball.” 

“In that first series, we had missed blocks, not blocks were they engaged the guy and got beat or were they engaged the guy and got shedded and he made the tackle. You’re talking about our offensive linemen completely missing defenders they were assigned to and those guys making the play. Just in the first series, number 70 (Chuma Edoga) totally missed a block, number 77 (Chris Brown) completely missed a block and gave up a loss. I wrote here that our o-line is just, so, so bad across the board.”

“JT was able to convert on some of those early third and longs and some of the early second downs, when he got some blocking. But really you’re talking about individual great plays moving the ball, not great team play. If that’s the case, the team can tell we’re moving the ball because JT Daniels made a great throw, but we’re not blocking well for him, we’re not doing the other things well and the difference between that and hey we’re coming out here and dominating these guys. It was just individuals making great plays.”

“(Stephen) Carr made a great cut and he’s just strong enough that he was able to take that run for a touchdown. But there was a holding call that wasn’t called on that play by the tight end and he he was able to run it in. So you’re talking luck and good plays by individuals but not good team play and eventually it would catch up with us.”

“(Velus) Jones, I like him and he plays hard. He’s one of those guys that’s giving great individual effort while the rest of the team is kind of letting him down.” 

“We had offsides penalty, number 70 had an offside penalty.” 

“There was a point in the second quarter where they were getting pressure with five men in the box, a five man rush. You’re talking we had five lineman and a sixth man, a running back, in. And we’re not able to protect our quarterback and we outnumber them. So Texas is able to have an extra defensive back or an extra linebacker drop, just because we can’t even block five. It can’t be overstated or understated what a big deal that is for a defense to be able to do that.”

“Another example of just I kind of I feel like the general apathy that exists within the team, and it’s not on the players, it’s really on the coaches at this point, when number two from Texas (Kris Boyd) intercepted that 50-50 ball that was thrown to St. Brown and they both came down it. A different coach, I hate to keep bringing up Pete Carroll but Pete Carroll, anytime a ball was contested or a tie ball on the ground, every player on the team would run over and jump on that pile to make sure we got that ball back. I guarantee a Pete Carroll coached team at receiver, that guy, you would have had to rip his arms off to get the ball away from him. But he let go of the ball, he let him have it and they called an interception. If you’re looking at the officiating of the game, the officiating was not great and there were some calls that should have gone our way and typically when a receiver and DB come down with the ball, possession goes to the offensive player. In that case it didn’t but he didn’t do a good job of selling it either. So I think that’s on him as well.”

“The second touchdown, Vavae Malepeai, again, that run, was all him. They completely collapsed our line, Texas pinched, it forced him to go outside, he ran over a guy and made a great play for the touchdown. We did not blow them off the ball, we did not earn the touchdown, the running back earned that touchdown.”

“After we had a couple series where we didn’t score, it just started to strike me by the way he was playing, no longer into his throws, looking disheartened almost. And that could be, like Eli Manning always looks like he’s upset. I feel like JT Daniels kind of had that vibe going on. I don’t know how much of that is because he hasn’t built that resilience yet. Sometimes when you get quarterbacks from schools where they struggle, where they’re the str player and sometimes that team struggles and they get beaten in high school, you end up with a more resilient kid. And JT Daniels didn’t ever really have to struggle in high school. At Mater Dei, he pretty much scored at will. And I think as a young quarterback at SC, you’re never going to score at will in college, and I think he gets disheartened pretty quick and I think the rest of the team feeds off that. And it looks bad. Especially later in the game, it looked like our team had given up.”

“(Tyler Petite) missed a couple blocks. When we were at the goal line, when we got stuffed before halftime, two penalties on two plays. Real sloppy stuff. We were right at the two yard line and this just indicative of a problem with the team. Any team that’s worth it’s salt should be able to line up at the two yard line and have a running play that they’re going to run and win with no matter how many people are in the box. We have to have a lineman or a fullback or someone we can run behind that we’re confident in. It doesn’t appear we do. And not only were we not able to do that but we got penalties in the process.” 

“It’s almost like you’re not watching college football, you’re watching a mediocrely coached high school team. Part of it is, we’re playing into what they want us to do. Texas wanted us to pass, but they said, hey we’re going to let you run and we’re going to hope you pass because we’re going to take away your short and midrange throws, or we’re going to contest them and make them tough. By putting only five in the box, we’ll play more people back, we’ll have more people in coverage, the more people in coverage, the harder it is to make those throws. The only way you can stop that and get them out of that defense is to go deep and get someone out there that can stretch the field, hit them on a couple deep balls, it forces them to put a man deep. Or, we run at them. Obviously they were able to stop the run right away with six men. And we never tried a real deep ball, we tried a couple of them and they weren’t even close. i think the last deep ball for a touchdown we had was against UNLV and that was during garbage time. One deep ball try that was caught that was caught by St. Brown was under thrown and it ended up not materializing into anything.” 

“Nothing looked clean, all the good plays were individual efforts. Third and goal in the second quarter and we couldn’t even get in from the two yard line and they stuff us. Carr gets tackled. He was forced to bounce it outside because Texas penetrated right at the goal line, which should have never happened.”

“As we went further in the game, Daniels really started to look spooked throwing off his back foot.”

“We had a blown screen that number 70 (Chuma Edoga) totally missed a block on. There’s so many mistakes, I feel like it’s redundant. I could just keep pointing out mistakes. More linemen missed more blocks and Daniels’ mechanics just continued to get worse.”

“The whole game, Texas’ defensive line, and they are by no means the defensive line of the Texas years. This is just a very average defensive line. They’re just resetting the line of scrimmage three yards in the backfield on every play. So what happens was, even when JT Daniels was able to get a throw off and it looked like he had protection, they were really collapsing the pocket. When they collapse the pocket, it interferes with his throwing lanes, it makes it tough to see, it’s not a clean pocket. As the game went on you could see that they were trying to move him outside the pocket, to get some throws but even that wasn’t effective because we weren’t forcing them to make any changes on defense.”

“Carr still looks special even though we didn’t have any yards rushing. Any yards we made were by Carr and any yards we made were him by himself. He wasn’t getting any help. If we had a cohesive offensive line that did their job, Carr would be a Heisman Trophy candidate.”

“(Austin Jackson) blew multiple blocks on the play side. And when I say they’re blowing blocks, anytime you’re blocking in zone blocking, two men start on a down lineman. The goal is to work up to the linebacker. And the linebacker is either going to scrape off one side or the other, whatever side he scrapes on, one guy goes off on the down lineman and the other goes off on the linebacker. I teach it in high school every year and I think my kids in high school combo block better than SC does right now.”

“I hate to be this hard on them but there’s nothing good about this game. (Chris Brown, Austin Jackson and Tyler Petite) all missed blocks, all allowed guys into the backfield.” 

“We’re losing in the offensive phase of the game. We’re not able to run, we’re able to connect on some throws. The good thing about JT Daniels is that he’s accurate and he;s able to make throws, even when he had pressure, even when he was contested, even with his poor form, he still was able to make good throws in the game. But you can’t win with negative five yards rushing. You can’t do it. And you can’t put it all on him to win the game, he’s not Sam Darnold yet. I think we’ve grown accustomed to having Sam Darnold, Tee Martin has at least.”

“As the game went on and things got out of hand, we struggled. Number 77 and 73 on the left side (Austin Jackson and Chris Brown), they were having trouble picking up the stunts of the defense. We had some drops, number 13 (Trevon Sidney) dropped a pass.”

DEFENSE

“On defense, the d-line looked good. Again, our defensive line looks good. Our linebackers look good. Our defensive backs are God awful. So many times throughout the game we are blowing coverages. We have individuals that shouldn’t be out there. Number 27 (Ajene Harris) he blew a coverage on that first touchdown and then he missed the tackle when the guy ran for a score. It’s not just that (Lil’Jordan) Humphrey was giving us fits, he was giving our defense fits, but the touchdowns we got scored on us, the long touchdowns and long touchdown passes, which could have meant the difference in the game, were on him. Like directly him, he got beat. The first time he got beat, he still had the ability to make a tackle and then didn’t. That’s just disheartening.”

“(CJ Pollard), he’s too small, too soft, especially when we’re playing a team like Texas, a team like Stanford. Texas’ receivers were tall, 6’4”, 6’6”, I think. They were tall and not only is he small, but he also played soft. There were multiple opportunities for him to make tackles during the game that he didn’t make. It looked like he wasn’t interested in making them. And that’s troubling.”

“(Christian) Rector on defense, he was playing tough. He missed some plays that he should have made sometimes. He had (Sam) Ellinger wrangled on a QB run. he read it perfectly but Ellinger got away from him. But he did read it. he was a factor in this game, I thought he played well. There were some missed tackles by Rector but I thought overall he played well.”

“Our defensive front played well, our secondary is what let us down. Just like Stanford, we would stop this Ellinger and he would complete it or break the pocket for a third down conversion. This happened like clockwork throughout the game. Why this is a problem, our defense was holding up fine but on defense, and a lot of people who don’t play football don’t know this. Defense expends like 70-percent more energy than offense, especially up front. On offense you have an assignment, you’re blocking and when your assignment is done, you’re done. Defense, you have an assignment, then you also have to run to the ball, you have to tackle, it requires more energy. So having your offense on the field all game isn’t a problem. Having your defense on the field all game is a problem. When our offense stopped converting and scoring and our defense wasn’t able to stop third down conversions, they started to get tired.”

“(Porter) Gustin played well until he shot himself in his foot (with the targeting call).” 

“Texas was passing and converting on those third downs and it forced us later in the game in the second and third quarter to move those backers back in coverage instead of playing them up at the line. And that allowed Ellinger to escape on some of those short runs. So when they needed five yards their quarterback was able to get it by running at us.”

“We can’t keep our defense on the field that long. Our defense was doing well early but our secondary was too much of a liability. (Ajene Harris) gave up two long scores that could have been the difference in the game. Up front I think we give as well as we take. But we really lost it, I feel like Gustin is the heart and soul of that defense and when he got kicked out of the game, I don’t think our coaching staff was able to draw them mentally back into the football game. I think that was like a turning point in the game and it’s super unfortunate. Their receivers were taller and more physical than the defensive backs, the same problem we had last week. (Collin) Johnson and Humphries, they were just too much for our defensive backs.”

SPECIAL TEAMS

“So we lost in the secondary, we were losing in the passing game and overall our defense wasn’t winning, our offense wasn’t winning and so we had to rely on something from the special teams and obviously that didn’t happen. We had, I mean, I don’t know whether he was trying to create something but I don’t know. Sometimes a player will go rogue and try to block a kick. it can happen. But usually a blocked punt is called. And when we tried to block that kick in the end zone and we ran into that kicker, which was absolutely a penalty, that was a huge turn because they turned that into a score before half. And then we had our punter, who we replaced our old punter with this new punter and this new punter averaged less than 30 yards. He had short punts in critical situations. It was incredible. A penalty on a kick block that led to a score, we had two shanked punts, and then we gave up a blocked field goal, not only did they block the field goal, we let them get a touchdown out of it. We had horrible special teams. “

2019 RB Christon commits to USC

2019 RB Christon commits to USC

USC-Texas Post-Snap Reaction

USC-Texas Post-Snap Reaction