Clay Helton’s USC football team went on the road for the second-straight week, and for the second-straight week, thoroughly embarrassed themselves, losing 37-14 to Texas.
Last week, USC football suffered an embarrassing loss in Palo Alto to Stanford. As a result, head coach Clay Helton’s seat got a lot warmer. After Saturday night’s debacle at Texas, his seat should be searing hot for the remainder of the season.
USC, after jumping out to a 14-3 lead, managed to get themselves blown out in the second half and lose 37-14.
The Men of Troy have once again showed they only possess competency in one phase of the game —neither of which are special teams or offense— which feels like it is leading into the long and frustrating end to the Helton era in Los Angeles.
Here’s is what stood out in Saturday’s loss…
There was none.
Some may call that harsh and point to USC’s first quarter offensive performance. Some may even call that first quarter performance a possibility of what this offense could or should look like.
However, USC’s first quarter performance was another example of the infuriating, devoid-of-scheme-or-identity, offense we’ve seen since the Western Michigan game in 2017.
It is tantamount to watching a flailing child being corralled by their parent. With USC playing the role of the petulant child.
They could not run the ball, and after a few failed attempts decided they were not even going to try anymore. Instead, they went to a chuck-it-deep passing attack, which was only ever going to work for so long.
All the Texas defense had to do was stack the box to scare offensive coordinator Tee Martin out of running the ball. Then, instead of blitzing JT Daniels, the Longhorns could just run defenders underneath his short routes and make him hold the ball.
Eventually, much like that child, USC’s offense sputtered out and Texas tucked them in for the night.
There was a lot of bad Saturday night. However, the absolute worst was watching USC’s defense get withered down. A defense that once again showed pride and heart as they fought against all odds.
Yes, there were missed tackles, which are inexcusable. However, the second half meltdown is something I don’t blame them for. USC’s defense got zero help.
The offense didn’t do it, though they did manage to score touchdowns this week. For the majority of the game, they couldn’t move the ball. They struggled to keep possession long enough to give the defense a breather.
Then the special teams didn’t help them out. How many weeks in a row are we going to watch USC’s special teams cost them yards and put their defense in a bad position?
Then after battling their own team, they had to deal with officials absolutely blowing two calls.
How does a group of referees go to replay and still get a safety call wrong? The knee was down, the ball was not out of the end zone. That’s a safety.
Then there was the targeting penalty against Porter Gustin. He put his facemask in Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger’s shoulder! The fact Ehlinger doesn’t keep his helmet on tightly and it popped after a clean hit isn’t Gustin’s fault. Now Gustin also has to miss the first half of the Washington State game, which compounds the effects of the poor call.
It all boils down to coaching and scheme.
I believe that Clay Helton is a good head coach for USC. With the correct assistants in place, there is no reason he could not be the Pac-12’s version of Dabo Swinney.
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The problem is, Helton has not shown the shrewdness needed to be a CEO type head coach. He hasn’t brought in anyone to help the offense schematically, while also failing to make the necessary special teams and offensive line coaching adjustments.
Helton is going to have to prove he has what it takes to right the ship or this may very well be his last season as USC’s head coach.