Will USC’s Offense Remain a Hybrid? Plus More USC Football, Basketball News

October 24, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans interim head coach Clay Helton watches game action against the Utah Utes during the first half at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
October 24, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans interim head coach Clay Helton watches game action against the Utah Utes during the first half at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

USC football renewed their commitment to an old-school offense in 2015, but ties to the spread offense with Clay Helton and his staff means the 2016 offense will remain a hybrid.

Can’t get enough USC football and basketball news? We’ve got your morning dose of all the best content from around the web concerning the men of Troy.

1st & 10:

First Take… Steve Sarkisian used to talk about USC being a run-first team. He also denied the existence of a dink-and-dunk offense in Troy, even though that’s exactly what the Trojans were for long stretches.

But they were never run-first.

In 2014, the basic numbers suggest that USC ran the ball more than they passed — 524 rushing attempts to 460 passing attempts. A closer examination shows that running out the clock in the fourth quarter created that illusion, with more than twice the number of runs than passes in the final quarter. By comparison, first half pass attempts greatly outweighed rushing attempts, 283 to 228.

When Clay Helton took over from Sarkisian in October of 2015, his strategy was to simplify USC’s offense. Getting back to old-school concepts, Helton’s Trojans placed renewed emphasis on the run.

The philosophical change was as much a part of Helton’s eventual hiring as the games he won.

Does that mean the offense under Helton and new offensive coordinator Tee Martin will retain that old-school look?

Helton has already proven his desire to instill a greater level of toughness in his football team. Still, the presence of “finesse” tactics across USC’s coaching staff cannot be denied.

Coaching additions on offense including Tyson Helton, Neil Callaway and Tommie Robinson have most recently been involved in spread offenses. Helton himself ran a spread offense at Memphis before he came to USC in 2010.

With that in mind, don’t be surprised if USC’s offense remains a pro-style hybrid as it was under Sarkisian.

Funnily enough, considering Helton’s commitment to the run in 2015, he and Martin could be better suited to running the offense Sarkisian talked about running than Sarkisian was himself.

And Ten USC Football and Basketball News Links…

  1. ESPN: The Worldwide Leader asks the question: Who would make the best president from each top 25 CFB team? The answer for USC comes from Ted Miller, who nominates Adoree’ Jackson, the man who can reach across the line of scrimmage and unite offense, defense and special teams. Other nominations include Christian McCaffrey for Stanford, Corey Robinson for Notre Dame and Jerry Neuheisel for UCLA.
  2. Athlon Sports: Steve Lavin predicts Ronald Jones will easily eclipse 1,000 yards next season as one of the 30 top running backs on the rise for 2016. Utah’s Joe Williams, Oregon State’s Ryan Nall, Washington’s Myles Gaskin and UCLA’s Soso Jamabo also make the list.
  3. ESPN: The Pac-12 South is expected to be a wide open race again in 2016. Ted Miller makes the case for Utah taking the prize this time around with 15 returning starters.
  4. Reign of Troy: Which five players could emerge as offensive sleepers this spring? Ajene Harris is a good bet, but the likes of De’Quan Hampton and Dominic Davis could make moves.
  5. Daily Trojan: USC basketball can hold their heads high after the 2015-16 season, says Nick Barbarino. Despite their heartbreak in the NCAA Tournament, there are many reasons to be optimistic about the Trojans’ future, including the additions of incoming freshmen Jonah Mathews, De’Anthony Melton and Harrison Henderson, as well as Louisville transfer Shaqquan Aaron.
  6. OC Register: Ryan Kartje revels in the opening weekend madness of the NCAA tournament before turning to the big issue at hand for the Pac-12 — the conference’s tournament futility, which goes well beyond this disastrous March.
  7. Pacific Takes: Jack Follman tries to put the Pac-12’s performance this season in perspective, arguing that this was supposed to be a rebuilding year and that depth does not mean true strength at the top.
  8. RipsIt Blog: John McGillen’s photo gallery from the NCAA tournament has some nice shots of the action in Raleigh.
  9. FishDuck.com: If you’re unhappy with Larry Scott’s leadership in the Pac-12, here’s some fuel for the fire from the Oregon side of things. Jon Joseph breaks down the failings of the conference lagging behind others in perception, media and results. He also proposes some radical changes, including a merger between the Pac-12 and Big-12 as well as the Pac-12 Network with the Longhorn Network.
  10. CBS Sports: Snoop Dogg’s new cleats have money on their mind.

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