Helton on fourth down call: We play fearless and aggressive
While Stanford defeated USC 17-3 in game that went exactly as the score indicates, there was a stretch of competitive play between the two teams.
The Trojans travelled to Palo Alto, Calif. with hopes of shutting down Bryce Love, KJ Costello and the rest of the Cardinal offense. Things got off to a rough start as Stanford scored on its very first drive.
But the rest of the first half was a toe-to-toe defensive slugfest. USC was living up to what it had hoped and seemed to be playing some high level defense. With less than two minutes remaining in the first half, USC had the ball, was driving, and only trailed by a possession.
With 1:18 left in the half, the Trojan offense faced a 4th and 2 in Stanford territory.
Clay Helton elected to go for it and JT Daniels fumbled the ball away and turned it over. Stanford then goes on a 5 play, 51 yard touchdown drive to make a tight 7-0 game into 14-0 before the half.
14-0 was enough to put the game away as USC never got in the end zone. But a deep punt might have prevented the Cardinal from scoring a touchdown before the half. A 10-3 game would have had a much different feeling late in the fourth. But USC was instead in a 17-3 holes because off that late first half Stanford score.
“We really felt our defense was playing great football,” Helton said when asked about his decision during the postgame presser. “We got on that part of the field. It was fourth and about two. We walked in here and told our team we would play fearless and be aggressive. At that point and time, with our defense playing well and us just starting getting a little bit of the flow offensively, we wanted to take that opportunity. I wish we would have hit it but we didn’t.”
A different outcome on that one play could have meant a different outcome in this game. Instead USC will travel to Austin to play Texas (5 PM, FOX) this coming weekend with a 1-1 record.