Should Helton name a starting QB? And more USC football news

Mar 8, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans coach Clay Helton during spring practice at Howard Jones Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 8, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans coach Clay Helton during spring practice at Howard Jones Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

USC football will have to wait for a starting quarterback, but is Clay Helton making a mistake by not naming Max Browne the starter now.

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First Take… Clay Helton won’t be naming a starting quarterback until Fall Camp, the head coach announced Monday. But should he?

USC coaches have handled QB battles poorly in the past. Pete Carroll waited too long to give Aaron Corp the go-ahead when Matt Barkley was injured ahead of the Trojans’ eventual loss to Washington in 2009. Lane Kiffin botched the competition between Cody Kessler and Max Wittek in 2013, waiting until the third game of the season to name a starter. So there is an argument to be made that Helton should keep things simple, avoid drama and just name Max Browne the starter now.

Helton has already said that Browne is ahead and he’s done nothing to lose his lead thus far.

Still, Helton’s decision to hold off on making it official has some merit.

More from Reign of Troy

For one, Helton’s job will be staked on the quarterback decision. He needs to be completely confident in that decision. No one wants him to fall into the Kiffin trap, but he has time to let things play out a while longer.

By now Browne knows that things will not be handed to him on a silver platter regardless of how highly touted he was coming out of high school. Competition should drive athletes to be their best. Whichever quarterback gets the nod, they’re both best served by having to focus on staying sharp over the summer and getting ready to bring their A-game in the fall.

Finally, Helton is being fair to Darnold, a young player who has given his all this spring. The continued competition is a reward for how far Darnold has come since last year and a reflection of the “clean slate” mentality that Helton placed on all the battles for starting places.

With no starters named post-spring at any other position, so that the coaches can have a complete picture of where everyone stands before they begin the process of putting a depth chart on paper, it seems fitting that the quarterbacks receive the same treatment.

And Ten USC Football and Basketball News Links…

  1. Reign of Troy: Even though Helton won’t post a depth chart, we took a crack at predicting the Trojan lineup for 2016.
  2. Dan Weber makes the argument that the delayed decision on the quarterback competition shouldn’t be a red flag because it’s not a case of the old addage that “If you have two quarterbacks, you actually have none.” Instead it’s a reflection of two players both playing well enough to earn the job.
  3. ESPN: USC may be associated with Hollywood, but the Trojans are trying very hard to shed that label and get back to gritty football. Zach Banner credits Helton with that: “Coach Helton is not Hollywood. He’s like our hashtag that is going around — #allaboutball. This man is a 6-foot-1, bald-headed white dude. He is not going to be on the next GQ cover, and he knows it. But he wants to win football games.”
  4. Sporting News: Lisa Horne also runs down all the ways a the back to business attitude is being instilled by Helton.
  5. Saturday Blitz: The time is now for Max Browne to show he’s the QB to lead USC to conference title glory, says Patrick Schmidt.
  6. ESPN: Kyle Bonagura makes a case for Dominic Davis to see the field more based on his bright Spring Game performance.
  7. Bleacher Report: Sam Darnold made the list of most impressive freshman performances during the slate of spring games across the country.
  8. CBS Sports: The Position U series as has CBS looking at which schools have produced the most NFL talent at each position over the last decade with USC coming in at No. 5 to be named Defensive Line U. Trojan defensive linemen have tallied nine draft picks, three first round picks, 540 NFL starts and two Pro Bowls.
  9. Bleacher Report: Four-star defensive end D.J. Johnson didn’t make it to the USC spring game as planned but he’s still planning to visit the Trojans.
  10. Conquest Chronicles: Jaiden Woodbey, a 2018 safety prospect from St. John Bosco, was at the Spring Game and came away impressed with how aggressive USC’s defensive backs were playing.

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