Morning Buzz: 10 Things USC Needs To Fix Vs. Stanford

1.) Live up to the hype

The first game showed no culture change. Here are some other areas perceived as improved that looked the same: Offensive line, defensive line, linebacker, wide receiver. Secondary was expected to be a mess and looked like one.

2.) Sort out the brain trust

We were promised a new system where Clay Helton is the hands-off CEO and Graham Harrell runs the offense. But with 2:44 left and the ball at the Fresno State 44-yard line, Helton decides to go for it and calls the running play that failed miserably because the linebacker went untouched through the line and the handoff was botched.

3.) Recognize the play clock

Why is USC snapping the ball with 15-20 seconds left on the play clock while protecting a lead? Because offensive coordinator Graham Harrell is oblivious as he keeps calling his Air Raid plays. Harrell doesn’t even realize he is giving the defense less time to rest by doing this.

4.) Learn to snap ball under center

This has been a problem for awhile and became a problem last weekend. USC couldn’t even cleanly snap the ball in the victory formation and botched a handoff on fourth-and-1 with 2:44 left.

Is it that hard to practice going under center during the week?

5.) Rotate more players

We hear tailback Markese Stepp was furious after the game because he didn’t get to play after a strong training camp. And where was wide receiver Devon Williams.\

6.) Get organized on special teams

Remember USC held a “mock game” two weeks ago so it would realize how to substitute, especially on special teams. But when it supposedly made a late substitution to start the game, it was too confused to realize it had two No. 7’s on the field. It’s an all-too-familiar issue under John Baxter.

7.) Don’t help the other team

USC coach Clay Helton ran down the sideline and called timeout as a disorganized Fresno State was about to go for it on fourth down because it didn’t have time to set up for a field goal. Once USC called timeout, however, Fresno State went for the field goal. That play gave Fresno a chance to tie the game at the end.

8.) Stop blowing leads

How many times in the past 13 games has USC gotten off to a 14-0 lead and then blown it or nearly blown it? It’s a Helton trademark and plays into the perception USC lacks focus and discipline.

9.) Tell Ben Griffiths to relax

The much-heralded punter unleashed a 58-yard kick in the Coliseum scrimmage before 5,000 fans. But last week, he could only muster a 37-yard average on three kicks. The best explanation is it was first-game jitters but when John Baxter is involved, all bets are off.

10.) Put Clay Helton in the pressbox

I can’t take watching another USC game with that clueless look Helton frequently makes on the sideline. See below.

41 thoughts on “Morning Buzz: 10 Things USC Needs To Fix Vs. Stanford

    1. Alv — Helton doesn’t need to be “gone” gone…. just out of sight. Scott is being impish when he suggests the press box but that’s actually where Helton should be — with thick glass separating him from the field. A place where the players can’t see him or hear his voice. Harrell’s pick for QB is starting & Harrell should be on the fricking sidelines (where he wants to be!) so he can provide support. A new energy on offense would be apparent on first down of the first series.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You’re wrong Mike – matters not where you put this fool. He’s (Helton) in desperation mode and ‘common sense’ is not his long suit. He sadly hopes he can keep the job. He’s desperate and desperate people are very reckless. Expect more ‘meddling’ as the program ‘lists’ to post as the good ship USC takes on more water. Again – nothing until this fool is gone.


  1. Lynn Swann believes it takes 4 to 5 years for Clay Helton to get his program implemented, and change the culture from finesse to tough physical, football. So what you’ll see against Stanford, is the same type of passive, non-physical brand that Bozo Helton is famous for, I guarantee!!!!!!

    Liked by 4 people

      1. ’67

        And I hope it has come across clearly over the months that we (the larger group) have been interacting on this site…

        The matter of “what might have been” is only constantly brought back up because of what it portends for “what might be”…

        A couple of times I’ve taken some time to list all of the other major programs (what in the good old days SI used to refer to as “The Gang of 9” which has of course undergone some changes over time), and how they have also all went through difficult periods, and how they’ve responded to right their ships…

        And USC is the outlier, by far…it’s why I’ve remarked on how USC’s righting of the ship has been by pure luck (McKay and Carroll), as opposed to affirmative, aggressive, determined almost campaigns…

        Think that’s why the name Urban pops up daily…one way or another, there is now fairly widespread recognition – except, alas, on the part of those making the decision – that this is now necessary…

        Liked by 3 people

      2. James, great stuff. We were indeed incredibly to have hired PC (third choice?). I worry that as the rest of the “Gang of 9” are universities that remain fully committed to competing at the top of D1 football, that we will fall further and further behind, dragged in part by the fact that there is really no university in the Pac-12 that either has the resources or the ambition to compete at the playoff level. I do believe that it could be turned around quickly, at least right now. I worry if it goes much beyond that.

        Liked by 3 people

      3. ’67
        Agreed entirely
        Believe that gang included Alabama, Ohio State, Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan, Nebraska, Penn. State, Notre Dame and USC (and Pitt of the ’70s had become an interloper, along with Houston…followed by the rise of the Florida schools starting with FSU in 1979)…
        When you examine that list…yeah, you see in each case where they have made a major effort when their football programs have floundered…except USC…
        And we’ve seen schools within the Pac-12 make far greater efforts…

        At least we did get this (which would seem to be consistent with the theme of de-emphasizing football to…whatever the #$%*)…!/page/0/length/25/sort_by/rank/sort_order/asc/cols/stats

        Liked by 3 people

      4. James — I’m only guessing, but I bet the louder “fan chat” (how the Board refers to what we;re doing right now) gets about grabbing Meyer as Head Coach ASAP, the more USC will want to go in another direction. [It’s just another way the “elites” show they know more than the commoners]……

        Liked by 3 people

    1. Fan Boy —you’ve made many smart observations….but I can guarantee you’re wrong on this one. USC will not play passive football on Saturday….

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Neither Helton nor Harrell could stop Slovis from calling for the ball early. He should get better but give the kid a break. As cool as people thought he looked, you could see the nerves in his play.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Lets look at Wolf’s list

    1. This can’t be done when you’re coached by morons
    2. There has to be brains to sort out to begin with
    3. Gomer has no clue as to what time a day it is let alone a play clock and if you saw pictures of Harrell in the press box he looked like a 18 year old at the WWE
    4. Snap the ball under center ? What’s that ?
    5. Young players aren’t ready to play, the system is so complex that it takes 2 years to learn it ( Clancy said that ) as to why Stepp didn’t play, well that’s anyone’s guess, he should be in the transfer portal any day now.
    6. Baxter has been and will continue to be clueless, the “special teams ” will continue to be ” special “, maybe they should call them the ” Short Yellow Bus Teams ” at USC these days
    7. Gomer was as disorganized as Fresno State, or maybe Clancy was and he yelled at Bozo to call the time out, maybe they were both disorganized.
    8. Gomer puckers up, leads will continue to disappear and making ZERO halftime adjustments will mean more second half collapses.
    9. The punter is a reflection of his position coach and his head coach, he gets coached down not up by these two morons, just ask Sam Darnold
    10. To hell with the pressbox, put Gomer in the unemployment line

    Liked by 5 people

    1. First, I have nothing personal against Helton. However, it’s obvious he can’t handle his job. Furthermore, it’s ridiculous for anyone to feel sorry for him. Should we really feel sorry for him? How many people do you know that get paid over 4 million a year to f$#k things up?

      Liked by 5 people

      1. BK, Bullseye on Larry Scott. There is no shortage of sensible athletic administrators to choose from. But Larry Scott totally pulled the wool over the eyes of the Pac-12 university presidents, whose interest in athletics does not go beyond the potential $$ to be made, and who did not perform due diligence when it came down to hiring a snake oil salesman who had no experience in university administration of any kind.

        Sound familiar?

        Liked by 4 people

      2. 67, if you look at who these presidents are, mostly eggheads with zero business backgrounds or real world experience, it’s not hard to have the wool pulled over your eyes. And if you read what these same presidents are whining about now, you’re right, it’s about the lack of money being generated, they could care less about the athletes or fans.

        Liked by 4 people

      3. BK, agree completely. One addendum is that the presidents at OK, OSU, ithose n the SEC, etc. are also primarily academics without much business background. I believe the difference, as you pointed out, is that the pac-12 presidents do not care about the fans and have very different priorities. The presidents of the SEC schools, OSU, OK, Mich, etc. do care about their fan base, and understand that college football continues to be an activity that really brings a university together.

        Liked by 3 people

      4. ’67 – that’s exactly right…the difference in the fans/followers/alumni of a Pac-12 school versus and SEC school is enormous…and consequently, the way to manipulate that into enriching the institution…financial more so than educational (since that is simply what they’re peddling in this brave new world)…is consequently equally different…

        Liked by 3 people

      5. Yes – see below (I posted one version and Marv another)…as with all else, it’s all about the $…

        Since can’t do anything about that, I like what Stephen posted earlier – really good job of balancing criticism and praise/encouragement with the right degree of focus/detail…

        Liked by 3 people

    2. I guess we have to face the fact Baxter has lost it now that Griffiths goes from 50 yards a kick in practice to 33 yards in games. If he continues downhill and winds up the year at, say, 15 or 20 yards it might be a “sign” it’s time to trade up in the “Special Teams Coach” category. Speaking of trading up, when asked how life has changed now that he’s starting QB, Slovis smiled and said “I can trade up in the girlfriend category.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 67 —To be fair, Baxter is saying that he’s teaching Griffiths to kick directionally so that his long kicks don’t screw up Baxter’s special team’s philosophy. But I still don’t get it. What can be gained by getting a guy who can kick it 45 to 50 yards every time he touches it —to transform into a poorer version of what we had last year? Presumably, we recruited him cuz he kicks the hell outta the ball, right?

        Liked by 1 person

  4. 1. Hey #1 and #10 on defense, try tackling in open space better….you’re supposed to be players by now…I don’t see it….wouldn’t touch #10 with a 10 foot pole….another coddled,over hyped, mediocre at best player….
    2. Hey Vaughns, catch all the balls thrown your way and stop fumbling…did your coaches remind you, your first drop of the night produced a touchdown the other way within 5 plays? Additionally, Your fumble cost USC another 3 points…that’s 10 points for Fresno St…on you….btw, the dude you were beating most of the night was the same guy you used to beat like a drum in practice at Bishop! Not impressed, yet, and, how many catches did you make in the 4th quarter? ZERO!…remember, the only reason Jack Sears’ stalled on his second scrimmage drive was A TYLER VAUGHNS DROP IN THE SCRIMMAGE LOL! Ridiculous….otherwise, Jack was the only quarterback to lead scoring drives on his first and last drives (he only had 3 possessions, scored on two)….I saw…all of it….
    3. Kedon Slovis looks the same as he did in the scrimmage! I was there on the 50 for 4 1/2 hours lol…he’s not ready…he was throwing long passes up for grabs and fumbling snaps there, too…… and the fact the program keeps pushing this kid on us illustrates they don’t want to win.
    4. Many of Fresno’s long passes were made beating #9 and #7 on defense….I believe they’re supposed to be our vaunted nickels….
    5. I like the defensive line….good hustlers! Drake, great game, down to the tipped balls! They got no good support from our linebackers in space…I give the linebackers an F!!!!!!!
    6. Finally, we have some safeties who cover ground and get to the 🏈! Well done! Keep it coming! Thank you….
    7. I like our offensive line….keep working and improving and you’ll get to where you want….!
    8. Running Backs A…best game V has ever had….Mr. Carr? Great news! Nice job! Sky’s the limit….
    9. This team has many things going for it, with some, not so good….to jeopardize glimmers of hope with a “deer in the headlights” qb is a fireable offense!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. We can win…I’m rooting for you, no matter what…I was there at the scrimmage, I was there at the Fresno St game, I’ll be there for those rats from Stanford! Lol…you big lineman on both sides?! It’s your team, bring it…..

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Stephen:

        I suggested same to MG over last two days…the approach to this game lies through the performance of the two lines…they should line the RBs up and just keep pounding it…and the defense should load up the line, put a spy on the QB, and dare them to try to win with the pass…

        Liked by 3 people

      2. James, you can have any position you desire at USC….good mind, good spirit…these other people who write here like Soviet, Guarino, Pudly, Cal Seventyfive, they know nothing of what they speak because they never lived it, so, they’re ignorant kinda….old men in their 60’s and seventies and up who are grasping at past glories they don’t have, but, Scott saves their ass by giving them a platform each day to talk Trojan football and display to us what NOT TO BE…’s tough out here….

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Stephen:

        Your analysis was superb…

        I’m nothing special, so please (and anyone else) don’t waste any time on below…but for what it’s worth…

        I tend to try to find a way to stay communicative with as much of the spectrum on the site as possible (sometimes the difference of opinions is stimulating, sometimes aggravating)…I

        My personal views, under the present situation, are very similar to your’s and some of the more vocal critics I think…I don’t believe in this coaching staff (and by extension administration) or it’s philosophical approach…but I still want the players to achieve as much success as they possibly can…

        And despite all of the problems, as noted in the above post from 247…the amount of talent on hand means that this staff, despite its inadequacies, could still stumble to a 9-3 with just a little common sense…which you’ve pointed out in nice detail…

        They will still need to be replaced (9-3 is not an acceptable goal for this program given its history and inherent advantages)…but hopefully these players can have some success in the meantime…

        Liked by 2 people

      4. James —
        I’m with you. If we make the tackles we missed and catch the passes we dropped last Saturday, this Saturday could turn into a very pleasant surprise —-but that fact alone doesn’t translate into “let’s stick with Helton—he’s turned the corner!”
        As for the rest of your post, good stuff. Hope we find a way of being half way (but no more than that) civilized on this site. So many smart observations, so many fun disagreements….

        Liked by 2 people

      5. MG-Absolutely agree…I learn a lot from reading the posts from so many of you…I have a certain view/notion, and I stick to it…but as you (and many others here – what did Cal75 once observe about how much more fun this site is than the Strawberry Canyon version?) and I both know, intelligent people never become impervious to receiving additional information and making use of it…I don’t agree with some folks, but…you know, it was our very civilized and thoughtful discussions…and, of all things, some more animated sessions with Owns!…that made me begin to fully appreciate this site…it’s our therapy in a sense, yes?

        Liked by 2 people

      6. James —Therapy. Wow. Great comment. When I tried cases all the prosecutors in our office used to have these Friday ” review sessions” at a local bar. Nobody learned a damn thing —but it gave everybody a chance to vent about the judges, the jury panels, the clerks, the bailiffs, etc. Ironically enough, probably the best trial attorney attending these sessions —the veteran guy with the most insights, and the most knowledge —would undermine his own brilliance by (unnecessarily) taking on everybody present —even the people who were agreeing with him. One night one of the junior attorneys said, “everybody here respects you —why so angry?” He left and never came back….

        Liked by 2 people

      7. I’ve been an attendee at some professional meetings of that type…that’s a tremendously wise and insightful description of what any “community pot” should be like (as in a place of mutual topical interest, for lack of a better description)…certainly the way I try to approach this site! Not like Moonwatcher and Oneear in the opening scene of 2001!

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Ha! [Prince Barin to Flash Gordon: Let the universe know there is a higher ethic than Ming The Merciless’ Law”]…….


  5. And here’s why change can be hard to come by in Heritage Hall. There is no better insurance policy than to have a billionaire be your biggest backer during your A.D. stint. Unless someone starts whispering into the billionaire’s ear about what needs to be done, it ain’t gonna happen. It’s a good read.


    Liked by 5 people

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