Five Thoughts: USC-Washington
…Why is this still happening?
I have no answer to this question. USC is 3-2 so far this season. The Trojans were completely outclassed by Washington. BYU also beat them. Last season, USC went 5-7 for the first time in 18 years. USC is also 8-9 since Sam Darnold left, including a 2-6 mark on the road.
There are no redeeming qualities about Clay Helton’s program. Good teams usually destroy them. Sometimes bad teams beat them too. The team doesn’t do one thing well. They also shoot themselves in the foot regularly.
In addition, recruiting is going horribly and there wouldn’t even be a single repercussion in that area if Helton was fired right now. The Trojans already lost the one recruit in the class who was worth anything.
So why is this still happening? I don’t think anyone had an answer. It feels like Carol Folt wants to allow the new athletic director to pick the next head coach. That’s the only thing I can possibly think of.
Because there’s no reason Helton should have this job still.
…The offense is atrocious
USC is an Air Raid team that can’t pass the ball. Matt Fink couldn’t break 200 yards and threw three picks today. The offense can’t run the ball either. Certain fans will object to this point because USC rushed for over 200 yards against the Huskies. 95 yards came on two explosion plays. The run game is totally inconsistent.
And that’s a continued problem from every other game.
Fresno State’s offense outscored USC’s offense in a way too close win for the Trojans. BYU outscored USC as well. Washington only gave up 14 points and it came on one big pass and a desperation drive with a fourth down conversion.
It seems very clear at this point that Graham Harrell’s last job was as offensive coordinator at North Texas.
…The defense isn’t much better
The middle of USC’s defensive line seems to be pretty good. Other than that, not much is going well.
USC still can’t set the edge and we’re about halfway through the season. The secondary gets burned way too often, a continued problem from seasons past. The linebackers make impressive plays at times but are usually missing tackles in space. Play calling also seems to be an issue, especially on a poorly timed blitz that led to an 89-yard touchdown run for the Huskies.
It’s become clear what Clancy Pendergast is and it isn’t good. It’s time to move on.
…USC still doesn’t use its best players
Markese Stepp needed to be used more, a continued theme from every other game this season. USC pulled him late in the game inside the red zone to replace him with Vavae Malepeai. It immediately blew up in their face. On a fourth and goal wherehe should have been in the game, if not running the ball towards the goal line, he sat on the bench and watched a dumb pass play.
This is also worth mentioning in regards to Michael Pittman. He ended up with four catches for 64 yards and a touchdown, decent numbers, but 44 of those yards came on one play.
Why would USC only target Pittman four times a week after he had over 200 yards receiving? Why would 15 other passes go to other receivers? Why did Amon-Ra St. Brown get targeted more?
There’s no explanation and it makes it worth questioning who’s sitting on the bench that should be playing.
…Is there any discipline?
USC was called for 8 penalties for 80 yards. That’s a big deal in a two touchdown loss. Unsportsmanlike conduct penalties at key times also hurt the Trojans badly. Fink was penalized after the first touchdown, which allowed Washington to push a one possession game back to two possessions quickly. Talanoa Hufanga, who wasn’t playing, also got called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that drove USC backwards immediately after a turnover that could have changed the game.
It’s really amazing.USC coaches not only call bad plays, they can’t even scare their players enough into play disciplined football.