USC-Fresno State Report Card

QUARTERBACK

JT Daniels was on fire at the outset until Fresno State figured out the new Air Raid offense. Kedon Slovis played about the way you would expect a true freshman who didn’t expect to play. Clay Helton created this mess.

GRADE: C+

TAILBACK

Vavae Malepeai had 134 yards and Stephen Carr 56. But again, when USC needed a critical yard, the same problems as last year reappeared. Where was Markese Stepp?

Grade: B+

WIDE RECEIVER

For all the hype about this being the nation’s No. 1 receiving corps, I was underwhelmed. Especially when Tyler Vaughns fumbled. But this is probably the least of the team’s worries.

Grade: C+

OFFENSIVE LINE

They got blown up on a couple key plays: When Daniels tore his ACL and the fourth-and-1 with 2:44 left in the game. And there was a key penalty on Alijah Vera-Tucker that negated a huge play. Tim Drevno is working wonders.

GRADE: C

DEFENSIVE LINE

I kept hearing how the line made a huge jump in the offseason. Then there was a game and I saw Fresno State rush for 206 yards. It didn’t look much different to me.

GRADE: C-

LINEBACKER

If you asked me one player sure to make an impact, I would have said Palaie Gaoteote. But I can’t remember more than one play where he lived up to his promise. John Houston had 13 tackles but I’m not sold on him being an inside linebacker. It was an average group at best.

GRADE: C

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Fresno State rarely threw the ball downfield. And their receivers were always open. Watch out when USC plays a passing team. At least Isaiah Pola-Mao made a great play to save the game with his interception.

GRADE: D+

SPECIAL TEAMS

I don’t care what else happened. After the two No. 7’s debacle on the first play of the season, someone needs to fire John Baxter.

GRADE: F

COACHING

Where was the clock management? Where was the new, physical team we were promised? Why was USC going for it on 4th down? What changed? How dumb did it look to run off Jack Sears after Daniels went out? Has anything changed?

I thought there was no way a defense could cover the receivers in the Air Raid scheme? Weren’t we promised an unstoppable, dynamic offense? It produced 24 points . . . against Fresno State.

GRADE: D-

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48 thoughts on “USC-Fresno State Report Card

  1. Is it too early to ask that Clancy, Helton, and Baxter be fired…. Of course with the AD still there, we’ll get more of the same…. So the first order of business is to stop paying Swan the big bucks and let him hit the golf course full time…. Has any school had a worse string of AD’s???

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I thought oline play did pretty well. They did open holes and did not allow as many sacks as a last year game. That 4th and one play was a combination of d blitzing and Slovis being confused to hand off the ball. Slovis held onto the ball too long. Helton still manages SC with the greatest incompetency though. Counting down the days until he is fired.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Swann and Helton are not looking or talking like guys who are the least bit scared of losing their jobs. In fact, Daniels’ injury may have given them the BIG EXCUSE they were hoping for this season…..
        #WaitTilNextYear!

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi Clay,

    If you are a reader of this blog, could you please do us fans and alumni a favor and step down?! Just say ‘personal issues’ and enjoy the millions that our institution blessed you with.

    Thanks, Trojan Nation
    Fight On!!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Jonny —That’s the ONLY way it could happen. Folt won’t do it. Swann won’t do it.
      #Folt: “ICan’tAcceptThisResignation—You’reIrreplaceable,Clay!”

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, gt —-what is 15 million to a man who only values —or sez he only values —God, Family & Football? It’s a no brainer.

        Like

  4. I thought 1-5 start before Fresno and I will stick with it. The most winnable game of the next 5 is actually this weekend because it should be a low scoring game. If Costello plays, it is almost a sure thing loss.

    I’m ignoring Swann and Helton’s BS remarks. Two clueless losers.

    My hope is that the big money people who funded the Scholarship Tower will take care of business during the bye week. Folt has to know the Coliseum needs to be filled or the entire AD goes down the drain even further.

    I wish Slovis the best and hope he doesn’t get killed Saturday.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Harrell has talked about having fun and playing balls out. If they let Slovis play Harrell’s brand of football he’ll get intercepted a few times by Stanford’s great defensive backs —but, if we keep Slovis from slinging it, we’ll be playing a brand of football which is very different from what we practiced all fall (and spring). To quote Johnny Eager again, “If you’ve been a sucker half the way, you might as well be a sucker all the way” —-let the kid loose —hopefully he’ll make more plays than he misses and we can start becoming the team Harrell wants. [And if that’s not the plan —and we abandon Air Raid & go conservative with the run —why the fuck isn’t Sears playing]?

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Stanford, who actually have good coaches, will try to confuse the hell out of Slowfoot, they’ll take away the run and force him to beat them, their DB’s will also not play 10 yards off of our WR’s.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. BK is correct…they won’t just line up and play one type of coverage…they’ll disguise/mix coverages and blitzes and will take away the run…they’ll make the rookie beat them…and he won’t…look for early stuffing of the run leading to abandonment, then sacks (possibly strip sacks) and picks…20-6 Cardinal…

        Liked by 1 person

      3. You called it, karma. It’s up to Harrell to counter it —and he’s gonna need to take chances.
        #OpenItUp….
        #ShowSomeConfidenceIn”BestQuarterBackYouEverSaw”

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Like so much else about this and previous years, it’s really more about the defense…can they step up and match so that the offensive play calling doesn’t have to roll the dice and put Slovis in situations he’s not ready for yet…if the defense can actually be what Clay claimed they were (but they weren’t) against Fresno State, stout, then they can stay with the run and mix in some safer plays that could pop (why you have athletes like Carr)…of course, that would require USC being able to actually execute a (not the bubble) screen play, play action pass to a tight end, or counter/delay…but all of that is irrelevant if the defense can’t match three and outs with the Tree…

        Liked by 2 people

      5. James — I think EVERYTHING this team was supposed to be about revolves around outscoring the opposition —I don’t think Helton really believes in the stoutness of the defense [it’s just him babbling like a crack baby again]. But guess what? Forget Helton —I think the defense COULD rise to the occasion. They missed plenty of tackles they were in position to make last Saturday —but they WERE in position to make them. And, of course, we need to use our tight ends (I feel confident that’s why we kept them under wraps against Fresno). But I really hope Slovis is “ready for” the Air Raid. I’d like to see us run the same kind of offense we ran in the first quarter against Fresno —passes to set up runs. Not vice versa. [Cuz I think if we go conservative against Stanford we will just end up losing a close one —that’s their game, not ours].
        #Harrell:It’sPutUpOrShutTime,Pal

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Well, as is now becoming customary, we have somewhat different views and will just have to let it play out…not to refute (because I can’t), but to present an alternate take…if the defense does not step up and keep it low scoring and enable a conservative approach that relies on the run game and no risk passes, I believe you will see Slovis frequently getting hit hard (freezing instead of pulling the trigger) and sacked, and throwing picks (getting baited into it by coverages being disguised and mixed) – to include the kind (short passes to the outside) that can turn into pick sixes…
        Unless Clancy has a gameplan and they tackle better, this will not go well…

        Liked by 2 people

      7. James — I can remember so many games in college football history where teams lost starting quarterbacks and came out slinging with backups…and won…..
        #…OfCourseTheyWeren’tTeamsCoachedByClayHelton
        May I ask a question of you, James? If you were Clay, would you stray from your system and insert Sears into this game? [Or do you say– like Switzer did at Oklahoma with the wishbone—“If I get fired, I’m gonna get fired going with the system I believe in!”]??

        Liked by 1 person

      8. MG
        That’s a tough one as of this moment – as you recall, I would have started Sears at the outset, so I have to get out of that mindset…
        I’ll go with initial gut reaction…no…the decision is made, he’s announced (rightly) an intent to move on…whatever I think of Clay, Graham, and the Air Raid…this is where we’re at…
        I start Slovis…I let Clancy know in no uncertain terms that because my job is on the line your’s is going to be on the line first…you know what Shaw does, he doesn’t deviate much, make sure you are ready to stop the run and put a spy on whoever plays QB for them…
        On offense, as said above, I tell Harrell to dial it back (unless we fall behind early and they back off/go soft on defensive playcalling), get creative with run/screen (center screens for crying out loud – other teams have killed us with them over the years…they are not hard to run) roll outs, quick play action, counters…the football equivalent of small ball in baseball…
        Let Slovis work his way mentally into the rhythm of the game (and in particular the speed), put the onus all week on the offensive (run, run, run) and defensive (stop run, stop run, stop run) lines…

        I’m going to point to a specific game that offers what I think would be the parallel in a positive sense (since I’m typically overly negative/critical):

        2007 Notre Dame – JD Booty injured and out, Mark Sanchez talented but inexperienced and in…on the road…not a great Notre Dame team, but still talented and motivated…run the ball and play defense…pick your spots very selectively to let your QB to open it up a bit, after having settled in…

        Liked by 2 people

      9. James —Yeah! Sanchez at South Bend! 38 – 0! [Not Sanchez vs Oregon the following week —17-24 —a game we could have easily won without his fumbles near our goal line]…..
        #Slovis:WatchThe2007TapeUSCVs.NotreDameForInspiration….

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Yep-you remember it…that game in Eugene, between the fumbles, and the missed tackles and lack of discipline in the defensive line (remember in their haste to get to the QB they were running around blocks all afternoon leaving gaping unblocked holes)…another one of those self-inflicted losses that plagued us in that era…

        But the 38-0 game with Sanchez…there’s a lot to be learned from that game (I believe even Kiff got it…in 2011 that was pretty much the same script run with Barkley as I recall)…

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello may return to start for the Cardinal Saturday night against USC, but left tackle Walker Little won’t be there to protect him from further injury.

    Costello, who took an elbow to the chin as he attempted to slide with only seconds left in the first half, is listed as questionable for Saturday night’s showdown with USC, but he won’t be a game-time decision.

    “Should hopefully make a decision by Thursday or Friday,” Shaw said.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I want Shaw to tell us this afternoon that Costello’s out & Stanford has pretty much given up on winning this Saturday so they can concentrate on Oregon and Washington down the road….
      #IsThatTooMuchToAsk?

      Liked by 2 people

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