After another poor night from USC’s offense, head coach Clay Helton needs to look at making serious changes, starting with the role of Tee Martin as offensive coordinator.
USC scoring three points at Stanford in Week 2 felt like rock bottom for Tee Martin’s offense. It was their lowest output in 21 years and marked the second time since Clay Helton appointed him as offensive coordinator that the Trojans failed to score a touchdown.
Yet five excruciating games later, they’ve found a way to be worse.
The Trojans had just 205 yards of total offense at Utah on Saturday, their lowest since the infamous Alabama game in 2016. Michael Pittman single-handedly accounted for over half of those on just four catches.
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Until the final minutes of the first half, they didn’t have a first down not attributed to a penalty or touchdown. USC didn’t convert a third down in the game’s first 47 minutes and didn’t get a single touch from their leading receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown or their leading rusher Aca’Cedric Ware.
They had 32 rushing yards before Matt Fink replaced JT Daniels to start the fourth quarter, and if you count backwards into the Arizona game, USC had a run where they registered three plays or fewer on 17 of 28 drives.
An offense as abundantly talented as the Trojans’ should never have any of those things said about them, much less all of them at once.
“I’m going to put everything on me as far as our performance,” Helton said after the loss. “My job as the head coach is to make sure that we are performing at a high level.”
He’s right. And after Saturday’s embarrassment, it’s clear that unless ‘high level’ is newfound synonym for Rutgers, Clay Helton needs to make the decision to fire Tee Martin as USC’s offensive coordinator.
It’s a cutthroat business and recruiting prowess be damned, someone has to pay for the Trojans’ unconscionable struggle to be even mediocre on offense.
You can’t bench every starter. You can’t install an all-new offensive scheme in one week. But something has to change. Doing the same things over and over, with worsening results to boot, just ain’t cutting it and does nothing but sharpen the axe athletic director Lynn Swann could theoretically wield.
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Tim Drevno —an offensive line coach by trade who’s saddled with the running backs while Neil Callaway stays employed— wasn’t a renowned offensive coordinator at Michigan and shouldn’t be permanent option for USC going forward. But if nothing else, he’s just as capable of leading this Trojans offense to a frustrating performance as Martin.
And given the rapid regression of the offense from frustrating to inconceivably horrendous over the last 10 quarters of football, he certainly couldn’t hurt it.
Fleeting as it seems and insulting as it may feel, this Trojan team still has a chance to win a less-than-impressive Pac-12. If you’re Helton, whose weekly verbiage is tied to competing for the Pac-12 South title, you have no choice to but to keep going for it.
So what’s it going to be for Clay? Go down with the ship or burn his final card right now —Tee Martin’s job—in a desperate attempt to try and save his.