Tyson Helton got the most out of quarterbacks at Western Kentucky, but can the new Trojan passing game coordinator make USC’s QBs shine?
Now that USC’s 2016 coaching staff is nearing completion, it’s time to evaluate each hire from the quality of the coach to the context of the appointment.
This is the third in a series diving deeper into the decision-making behind and the consequences of each hire.
Here’s a look at how Helton’s hiring grades out:
Tyson Helton | Quarterbacks / Passing Game Coordinator
Replacing: Clay Helton/Marques TuiasosopoPros: Measurable success at WKUCons: Only G5 experience, ran spread offense
Even though Helton was rumored as a potential candidate for USC’s offensive coordinator opening, the Trojans were able to bring him in despite a lesser role as quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator.
Helton was the offensive coordinator at Western Kentucky for two years, though both years he served more as a co-coordinator under head coach Jeff Brohm, who had run the offense before being promoted. With that in mind it is hard to tell what can be directly attributed to Helton’s success.
Sep 26, 2015; Tempe, AZ, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Max Browne (4) against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Either way, the Hilltoppers were a prolific offense in both of Helton’s seasons there. They were ranked in the top ten among total offenses for 2014 and 2015. This year they also finished the season as the fifth best offense in S&P+ rankings, which are adjusted for opponents and strength of schedule.
As quarterbacks coach, Helton helped develop Hilltopper QB Brandon Doughty, who set WKU records with 5,055 yards and 48 touchdowns to just nine interceptions in 2015. The year prior, Doughty threw for 4,830 yards, 49 touchdowns and ten interceptions.
Granted, Western Kentucky achieved those offensive heights in Conference USA but the important thing for USC to note is how Helton was an integral part of an offense which knew not only how to move the ball and score, but what its identity was.
The trouble is that Helton’s experience has largely come in spread offenses. How his style will translate into his brother Clay’s intention to run an old-school power offense is still a mystery.
If nothing else, Helton’s track record is greater than that of his predecessors. Clay also hailed from a Group of Five school but had a lesser track record of offensive success as a whole or developing quarterbacks. Interim quarterbacks coach Marques Tuiasosopo was a successful college quarterback but has yet to show a great proficiency in developing them at the college level.
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Considering Helton was a hot name for offensive coordinator positions across the country, USC hiring him on to run the passing game and coach quarterbacks feels like a win.
Grade: B. Helton’s hasn’t had a chance to prove himself at the Power Five level but his success at WKU suggests a bright future.
- Tee Martin, Offensive Coordinator
- Neil Callaway, Offensive Line
- Tommie Robinson, Running Backs
- John Baxter, Special Teams Coordinator
- Clancy Pendergast, Defensive Coordinator
- Ronnie Bradford, Defensive Backs
What say you Trojan fans? How do you grade USC’s hiring of Tyson Helton as quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator? Vote in the poll and sound off in the comments below.
How would you grade the Tyson Helton hire?