USC Morning Buzz: Fans Want Helton Out; What Is Harrell Doing?

Some of the USC fans I talk to are concerned USC might win enough games to save Clay Helton‘s job.

That is what they think about more than whether USC can win the Pac-12 South. One believes Helton is finished no matter how many games he wins. That is what is on their minds.

The 28-14 loss to Washington merely is a sidenote to them because they only have one thing on their mind.

  • I still feel like Graham Harrell is getting a free pass. He is billed as a quarterback whisperer.

How many times have read, “North Texas’s offense” did this or that under Harrell? And now he has more talented players than ever before.

But the offense pretty much averages three touchdowns a game . . . with little of the tempo promised under the Air Raid.

You can try to blame it on the lack of stability at quarterback. But watch how JT Daniels played in the second quarter vs. Fresno State. Or Kedon Slovis played vs. BYU. Or Matt Fink played vs. Washington.

All of the quarterbacks have had their moments and been inconsistent.

The one thing that is also consistent is that Harrell has not yet been some offensive guru.

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49 thoughts on “USC Morning Buzz: Fans Want Helton Out; What Is Harrell Doing?

    1. At no time was Matt Fink better than any of these…Glendora is a nice town, but it doesn’t beat San Clemente! Lol…I grew up in Covina, next to Glendora, lol lol lol lol lol lol…watching people write here that Fink was “captain of the river” possibility was just foolery. They’d run out of options to hide their previous poor quarterback flavorings….If USC wants to harvest some talent from Glendora, Danny Henley is available…I saw the list that was offered for a new baseball coach, and, I was disappointed….

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      1. Jack Sears San Clemente was a state champion in football! Matt Fink at Glendora, not even close…the truth comes in knowing the land…

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      2. Whoever USC goes with, make sure they’ve got, at least assistants, that actually know about SoCal foot to ground…

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      3. For instance, the Helton staff, and UCLA’s, for that matter, let Jayden Daniels get away to Arizona State…Cajon San Bernardino…I’m quite sure I was ✍️ about him for over a year here….

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      4. Say this out loud, ANY BOOB, BETTIN GAMES, DOWN AT THE NUGGET, KNOWS THAT! ..it’s kinda catchy, lol lol lol…hacks!

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      5. I grew up in West Covina and went to Covina high. This so long ago Covina Valley USD covered my neighborhood and West Covina high was the Spartans and Edgewood High was the Trojans. Glendora was a perennial power house and always beat CHS. Last night I actually wondered if Glendora wore purple back in the day. It’s pretty sad when your quarterback is the leading passer for both teams.

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      6. Glendora is having a good, if not great, year in football this year, 2019… the state title is a different scale….

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  1. The best way to avoid being attacked by zombies is to act like one. In that spirit: it was all Helton’s fault! Tarmac him!

    I hope everyone can now see the folly of saying Fink should’ve been the starter all along. For those who would call JT “Chuck ‘n Duck,” let me now introduce you to Matt “Heave ‘n Hope” Fink. He’s all yours, thank you very much. You would hope that when your QB is limited with regard to talent and physical attributes, he would at least make up for it with good decision making. The one best decision that Matt Fink could’ve consistently made yesterday would be to just hand the ball off. All day, just hand the damn ball off… He mentioned that with regard to one of his interceptions, but he also should’ve given it to the RB instead of trying to do the BS sandlot-rollout-pirouette routine for a sack to set UW up for their first TD. That act was all just a warm up for the interception that set up UW’s second TD, and before you know it, old H&H singlehandedly put the Trojans down 14-0. I guess H&H was reading all the media and fan comments about how great he was and how he was this gem that was wrongfully buried on the bench. I guess he felt he needed to put the team on his shoulders as if he actually was SUPER GUY like some in here were saying…he’s not. In fact, I would go as far as to say the he was the least talented player on the field for either team and on either side of the ball yesterday. Is that harsh? Yes, yes it is, but it’s true. I’m on the record about how I feel about H&H’s game and I’ve advised him to enjoy the college playing experience as much as possible. The game shouldn’t have been in his hands and he made the decision to keep it in his hands instead of putting it in the hands of far more gifted players. A true freshman throwing 3 picks in his first road start is one thing, but a redshirt junior or whatever?? We saw delusions of grandeur and needless attempts at heroism when steady and modest would’ve been enough…hand it TF off! Check it TF down! Throw it TF away! Scramble for a few and get TF down! WTF?? The rushing yards were there and all the backs were available to you, give them the damn ball and get TF out of your team’s way. That’s really all you had to do yesterday and YOU saw something else. Dude killed everything yesterday…

    Sometimes when you run the option, when you’re a little uncomfortable, you have the option you’re going to take predetermined in the huddle. Meaning, you’re giving the option look, but the option is taken away from the QB and it’s going to be a run regardless of what the QB sees. This is what needed to happen yesterday with Fink. I agreed that the offense shouldn’t have been changed for Slovis, but I didn’t feel the same way for Fink and Slovis can’t get back soon enough for me. Thank God for the bye week and modern medicine.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Maybe if the idiot OC and head coach would have just run the ball Fink wouldn’t have looked so bad, good luck with he OC and Helton ever pounding the ball, not going to happen

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Clay —
      I’ve already said this but I’m gonna say it again. Watching Fink against Utah, Urban Meyer announced that he’s the future of the program, the guy with the hot hand. Watching him against Washington, Meyer announced —after the first interception —that Fink had gotten the nerves out of his system and was now free to do anything in the playbook. wtf?
      I mention all this just to remind people that, when Clay is gone, there’s no guarantee that the next guy is gonna go 15-0.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. MG, Meyer’s fawning over Fink has been the most suspicious thing I’ve seen and heard out of all the “Hire Meyer” talk. I think he would be fawning over whoever the QB was because he’s gotta know better about Fink. He was trying to take the blame off Fink by saying he would have the QB throwing out routes to let him get comfortable. Be that as it may, Fink has thrown some truly horrid balls in the last 2 games and Urban is sitting there acting like he’s special or something. He was totally player hating Helton and sounding really suspect to me. He clearly wants the job and the Fink thing is the one thing that has convinced me of that. I think that was a great comment.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Clay —If (and I don’t think this is a big “if”—I think it’s probable) Folt has already (through her team) reached out to Meyer and he’s indicated he’s ready to go, she should announce ASAP that Helton is gonna finish up the year and Meyer is on board for 2020. I know she’d like the cover of “I leave all this to the committee” but she can always say Urban was the committee’s choice (even though they haven’t met yet —the truth isn’t that important). Even though Folt herself is new to the institution, the institution’s continued nonchalance is hurting USC’s brand. Step up to the plate, Folt. Take the risk & responsibility. To paraphrase Conan the Barbarian, “do you want to be President forever?”

        Liked by 2 people

      3. @ MG

        This is the end of Dan Weber’s damn good article

        ” Here’s a thought experiment about that mystical, mythical rematch in December for the Pac-12 championship. Let’s say today you switch staffs for the rest of the year. UW’s guys come to USC. USC’s guys go to Washington. Who do you think wins that December game? Of course, the team with more talent that’s coached up does. USC all the way.

        Or do this. Bring in Urban Meyer Sunday to take over USC football. How different would next week be for these Trojans – and their coaches? And if that December rematch happened, who you picking?

        You know who you’re picking. So what’s the point of waiting? When something is this obvious and this inevitable, why delay it? Who does that benefit?

        Don’t these USC players deserve at least the same opportunities the Husky players have? “

        Liked by 2 people

      4. MG, watching USC hire coaches over the last few years has been like watching someone trying on shoes at the mall. The school is always convinced that the next pair will finally be the glass slippers or something. I don’t want to get into the firing people thing and it’s a subject that I’ll let others handle. What I would say is that I like a lot of the young talent that Helton has brought in a lot. Even this freshman #24 looked good to me when he came in for Greg Johnson.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I’ve said this repeatedly (as a long-time listener of Dan’s) – Dan has been on this from the time Haden picked Sark over Coach O (not picking Coach O was open for debate…but hiring Sark was indisputably a terrible decision), and he’s been on to Helton from the beginning, particularly the debacle against McCaffrey and the decision not to use the preparation time for the Holiday Bowl and the refusal to instill discipline and toughness through practice habits, coaching approach, and schematic choices (he’s not a “neanderthal old man” as some like to try to castigate those of who revile Helton the coach…he agreed that updating the offense to incorporate aspects of up-tempo offense to put superior skill position talent into as much open space as possible was a good idea – but not to abandon physicality in the line and common sense play-calling).

        Since the end of last year he has, to the extent that he is permitted to in his position, been increasingly pointing out the ongoing failures under Helton, and pointing the finger where it belongs – not at players, but at the head coach and his staff.

        The article is what any of us who’ve kept open minds have known for a long time – if Meyer coached this team from the end of last season, it would be 5-0, Kelly would be soiling himself, the Pac-12 would be all but a foregone conclusion, and it would just be listening to Paul Finebaum trying to rationalize why a Pac 12 team should not be allowed into the playoff over a third (probably 2 loss) SEC team…and Saban would have cancelled the opener in Dallas next year…

        Liked by 3 people

      6. karma — I agree. Folt has been overpraised here for being the decisive savior-lady of USC football. She hasn’t shown that yet. In order to save the program she’s gonna have to look into Clay’s doe-like eyes and tell him he’s through. She doesn’t want to do that yet. But —you’re right —since it’s inevitable better to do it now. Ruthlessly. Like a combat soldier.
        [For better or worse, Clay should finish the season —- but Meyer should be named Recruiting Director and Coach- in- Waiting NOW]…….

        Liked by 2 people

  2. One can only hope.

    Unimpressed with the playcalling. What happened with “taking what the defense gives you?” Seems it has the caveat with Harrell …”as long as it still involves throwing the ball into 8 men back in coverage.” In what world is that sane?

    JT and Fink do share something in common: they don’t go through their progressions, especially as the game goes on. This makes it even easier for an opposing secondary to just read the QB’s eyes (once they realize this habit). And what is Harrell doing to fix this ‘fundamental’ problem? Or does he even see it? Of course not…

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Last week Fink got away with his heave and hope passes, yesterday he wasn’t so lucky. But, if his OC and head coach would have pounded the ball yesterday the outcome probably would have been a USC win.

    The problem with the OC and head coach running the ball is this, they are both former QB’s, they don’t have it in them to pound the ball for most of if not all of a drive, they just can’t do it. In both loses they had the chance to pound the ball against an 8 man front and wouldn’t do it.

    Why does it take three drives for Stepp to get into the game ? Answer, he’s got to wait his turn, that’s the philosophy of this coach. At least Stepp got into the game before the 4th quarter yesterday.

    It’s the same reason USC can’t tackle for squat, it’s not in this coach to practice hard, he just won’t do it.

    As for the continued stupid penalties, again, this coach cannot be a hard ass with the players, he just can’t.

    Did Baxter recruit an Australian punter just so he could go to Australia ? The guy can’t punt but I’ve read he was a beast in practice, what gives ? Did you see the kick off where UDUB almost got the ball because our players stood there and stared at the ball in flight, not moving to get it ?

    This was Helton last night

    “Know this, as far as competing and heart and how hard they play, there’s nothing wrong. It’s the corrections that we’ll make. That’s my job, nobody else’s,” Helton said. “I ask these kids where they’re supposed to be and ask them to give their best effort at all times and we’ll do the rest as coaches. They’re doing that. Now we’ve got to play clean, sound football with that. We’ll look up and we’ll have a chance to be Pac-12 South champions.”

    Does he really think anyone outside the dopes in the LA media buy into this garbage ? What does it mean ? He’s going to correct things that aren’t wrong ?????

    We can only hope that USC hires an AD who won’t be afraid to can Helton and hire a top coach.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. You’re failing to acknowledge the QB’s discretion in this offense and Fink displayed terrible and unforgivable discretion Saturday. HE should have been handing it off with 3 down linemen in front of him. He wanted to try to win the game passing.

      It’s even worse than you describe with the passing because it’s all they ever talk about in meetings and at practice. When it’s a run play, the discussion stops after the ball is given to the back–discussion over. With a pass play, there’s more to talk about and more for you to do, so your mind is ALWAYS geared towards thinking about passing. Passing is the focus of the offense so it’s ALWAYS a pass first mentality. That’s why if given an option, the QB is going to lean towards passing it because that’s what defines him and his existence. Further, your lineman are used to rocking backward to pass block rather than firing out to run block. It gets pretty involved, but it comes down to your QB making the right decisions and the right decision yesterday, more times than not, was to hand the ball off. We didn’t get the right decision nearly enough and that’s not even touching on the poor execution. If H&H doesn’t have a good head, he really has nothing at all.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. You, I, and several others have been saying this for how long? This isn’t revelatory – it’s been obvious for a long time…

      In responding to the worst knuckIehead on this site (who we won’t hear from for a while now that reality is back with a vengeance, to include Arizona State backing up their earlier win at Michigan State with a win at Cal) I denigrated ostriches last week, but at least they only bury their heads in the sand…the Titanic hasn’t been going anywhere except down (save for Sam and his mates bailing water)…

      9-13 last 22 without Darnold…29-17 with him, which is still somewhere on the order of Ted Tollner and Paul Hackett [except they never got thrashed like Cla(nc)y has]…

      Can’t wait for November…can still win the coveted Pac-12 South…it’s all about execution and player mistakes…air raid…rah, rah, rah – blah, blah, blah (who would have thought Alex Lifeson was simply doing an impression of the USC football coach at Rush’s Hall of Fame induction)…

      But rather than the Canadian power trio, how about this for our theme song of the moment:

      Liked by 2 people

    3. BTW, I’m over the Australian kicker scam too. Give me a damn punter who can punt the football like an American punter instead of an Australian kicker. This guy looks like he’s back there trying to paint the Sistine Chapel or something and damn near getting it blocked. Every other team this year has had a better punter.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You can thank Baxter for some of what you’re seeing from our punter. In fall practice the guy was routinely kicking it 50 yards plus. The drop off is partly due to real game pressure….and partly due to the ‘coaching’ of our relaxed, ‘its all good’ pal, Baxter.

        Liked by 2 people

    4. The brainless rah rahs buy into this garbage. They always blame the student athletes instead of the mercenary hired help. They did it with Kiffin,The Drunk and now Hugs. It’s what they do.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. I don’t know. I never felt good about SC’s chances. And quickly getting down 14-0 is a lot to overcome in the college game. The Trojans tried to run and were moderately successful, but Stepp got stopped twice inside the 5-yard line before Fink took it in, so that might explain why Fink was later throwing from the 5-yard line when he fired his third interception. The running game was not consistent enough to turn to full-time. So SC tried to travel by air with mixed results.

    And this idea of SC having superior talent takes a back seat to the facts– it seems every team SC has played has kids who know how to play the game.

    Finally, after Notre Dame the schedule continues to be daunting:
    Arizona just beat sucla without Tate
    At Colorado on a cold Friday night
    Oregon who has pretty much owned SC for a decade
    At Arizona St that just beat a pretty good Cal team
    At Cal, who beat Washington
    sucla– SC got beat last year and most of the same kids are back

    Conclusion: I don’t see any patsies left on this schedule. The Pac-12 teams cannibalize each other regularly, and I see the trend continuing.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Do you realize that if UCLA had won that game they would’ve been in first place in the South? Talk about a worm turning…

      I think the team played more than well enough to win, except for one guy who was trying to do too much for no good reason.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. You do understand that the QB has the option to hand the ball off or throw it on most plays, right? If so, you should understand that Fink was taking the wrong option by deciding to forego the run and pass it. Even if Fink decides to pass, he always had better options than throwing it right to the other team. I’m not sure why everyone is so accommodating him doing that. He couldn’t just throw it away or scramble for a few and get down? What happened to that when you’re a redshirt junior?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Matt’s a great young man and a credit to his family…… but he’s a got an awfully limited skill set. He’s always had accuracy problems that were plain to see. One has to wonder why “quarterback guru” Helton recruited him. Or Max Browne. [I think Clay and Harrell became SO invested in the lie that they had “4 NFL Ready” QB’s that they actually couldn’t see what a dumb gameplan they went into Seattle with]…..
        #…ButEveryoneElseCould….

        Liked by 1 person

      2. MG
        This isn’t about Fink…even the rah-rah ROTs agreed with that (pointing out you could look at any game, including with Sam – so this pre-dates Harrell – and see the same mistakes)…it’s a function of the system they’ve chosen to go with, and this system is only a barely gussied up version of what they were running before…and this the QB has an option is false – maybe if you had a mobile QB – another discussion we’ve had – with experience/repetitions…but that’s not what we’ve been dealing with (even the one game Jack Sears played in, or with Sam)…these are designed, largely pre-determined plays where the term “option” is a misnomer…the QBs are running the plays as diagrammed robotically…as coached to do…Sam was a once in a generation talent who also had an independent streak in him and a creative ability…and he bailed this sorry coach out…which we enjoyed at the time, but knew it couldn’t last, and was probably in the long-run counter productive to the necessary decisions being made….

        Liked by 3 people

      3. MG
        In my overzealous haste, forgot to add (for public consumption – pretty sure you recall us discussing and I’d guess you’ve listened to) that the whole “RPO” thing is something that Coach Hyde has also mocked in disgust for a long time now – USC’s opponents know the QB isn’t running…the play action is usually so poorly done that the defense doesn’t buy it either…and the QB’s normally go immediately to their hot read (which is also a function of how poor the offensive line play has been) and do not do progressions…the throws are robotic…if the defensive staff’s analytic work, or the on-field pre-snap adjustments aren’t made based on personnel groupings and formation, then the defense will yield quick hot read throws (and downfield jump balls – which are 50/50 in the game, and lead to 50/50 in the W-L column)…but when they are in position, and the QB either has to go through progressions…

        Liked by 2 people

      4. James — You’ve been right about these points from the beginning. I’ll be happy to admit you’ve seen things more clearly than I have. [But for all the folks who are saying Sears would have won this game: Please stop. What makes them think that a guy who couldn’t beat Arizona State at home beats Washington on the road]?

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      5. MG
        I know a little football, and I’m a keen observer (to me, football, like almost all team sports, is simply a math/physics problem at root – how do you exploit 3 dimensional space, over the 4th of dimension of time, by manipulating a 5th dimension of motion)…
        But a lot of this has come from listening to Dan and the Coach over the last decade…augmented by reading a variety of sources…
        If you saw what I wrote above, I don’t necessarily disagree with you about Jack Sears, but maybe some (he wasn’t that impressive against ASU last year, although it was his only playing time and he probably got few reps)…but he is far more athletic/mobile, and demonstrated at least a little ingenuity a la Sam…his skillset better matches what they are trying to do, because of the poor offensive line play…I agree with you about JT (and perhaps Slovis, although I think everyone got a little carried away in praising his brief stint, given the number of jump ball passes that succeeded, versus how obvious the quick knockout against Utah demonstrated his inability to read/react)…but only if you put him behind the kind of lines that Palmer, Leinart, Booty, and Sanchez (Barkley played behind better lines, but they weren’t as good as the lines of the preceding decade)…he’s not athletic, not naturally incline to move, and hasn’t shown or developed the (watch Philip Rivers with the Chargers…just like Jim Plunkett used to do with the Raiders…you don’t have to be fast or a scrambler to be effectively mobile within the pocket) instincts to move within the pocket…but he can throw, and I believe he is football smart (ie he does understand can perform progressions – but that takes time, and the line simply hasn’t given him that)…
        These modern offenses, while pass-centric, are still really only elaborations on the Dallas Cowboy shotgun approach (employed heavily in 1975 as Landry was performing a rebuild on the fly that nearly resulted in a surprise Super Bowl title, and predicated on his having a supremely gifted run/pass athlete in Roger Staubach), which in turn was an elaboration on the old single wing, but with a concentration on passing and spreading the field…it’s much easier to build around a single gifted athlete (part of why the fad caught on), and the rules changes have only fueled the game further skewing in that direction…all that said, championship football still comes down to physicality, discipline, and attitude…and that is where this begins and ends (just like Dan observed when Helton elected to turn that Holiday Bowl against Wisconsin into a holiday)…

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  5. If nothing else, the team did play hard for Clay Helton, but the guy just doesn’t get it . He’s in his 4th year, but from the looks of things, you’d think it was his first. He hired the three stooges in, Tee Martin, Neil Calloway, and Tyson Helton, which did nothing but set the program back three years. Note to future athletic director…. Do not hire an inexperienced clown, and expect him to learn on the job !!! Especially at a power 5 conference university 🙄🙄

    Liked by 5 people

    1. He’s right where we knew he’d be…after a week of running his mouth and acting like he works for Helton’s Ministry of Propaganda…hope he’s on vacation in Tempe with some knuckleheads…

      Liked by 2 people

  6. having a big time program run Air Raid is ridiculous… Air Raid is for schools that can’t recruit linemen…. It’s easy to find WR’s…. but linemen (a lost SC art) are in short supply….all of Helton’s coaches will hit the clown bus…. at least in a world where performance is the criteria… and Swan is GONE!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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