Morning Buzz: USC Needs To Be Special At Tailback

Every time someone transfers, there are USC fans who will say it doesn’t matter.

I wasn’t championing Stephen Carr during spring practice like some but I did criticize the fact USC made Markese Stepp feel unwanted enough to transfer to Nebraska.

People seem to think it’s fine if Vavae Malepeai and Keaontay Ingram are 1-2 and get the bulk of the playing time in 2021.


Malepeai is a competent back and coaches’ favorite. Is he special? No.

Is Ingram special? Maybe.

Is Kenan Christon special? He has big-play capability but got frozen out last season.

But USC should be special at tailback.

The problem today is whether a special tailback wants to play in an Air Raid offense?

Does a special offensive lineman want to play in the Air Raid?

USC national championships were built with — among other things — special tailbacks and offensive linemen.

Alabama has adapted marvelously offensively but still had a great tailback and three first-team All-SEC offensive linemen last season.

Some USC fans (and coaches) think they are fine with average tailbacks. That doesn’t cut it when you want to beat the Big Boys.

Neither does having an offensive coordinator who doesn’t understand the importance of running the ball or getting 2 yards when you need 2 yards.

Until these things change, USC can be a good Pac-12 team. But special? No.

34 thoughts on “Morning Buzz: USC Needs To Be Special At Tailback

  1. The writing must’ve been on the wall since the spring game but wasn’t nor hasn’t been pointed out. It was telling that after such a short time on the team, Ingram was voted captain for the game not Carr. At the time I thought this will affect the rb room..

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Very perceptive remark. It’s always hard for veterans in any profession to be in the room when the Big New Talent arrives. It’s not just selfishness either. The vet is thinking “I’m the one who has put in the time, why am I getting leapfrogged?” What they’re missing is: it’s not about dedication or loyalty —it’s about who can help win games.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes. I believe the number does stand at “ONE.” A very talented running backs coach who got the hell outta Dodge after ONE year.
        Don’t hold your breath waiting for Tyson Helton or Neil Callaway or Clancy Pendergast or John Baxter (the core of Helton’s All Star cast) to be showing up on NFL sidelines….

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Rarely do I agree with Scott, since most of his posts are underhanded snark purely for the purpose of getting a rise out of people. But he’s spot on here- the air raid has got to go. It’s embarrassing that a school like USC cant run the ball.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Bottom line the Air Raid offense does not win Pac 12 or National Championships. How many conference championships and national championship have been won with a team running the air raid offense.? I think we all know the answer to this question.

    USC under Clay Helton wants to just remain competitive in the Pac 12 South, and that’s it. Sadly, Helton knows he can keep his job if he remains competitive. This is why you cannot give these coaches long term contract with buy out clauses. USC should tell Helton this year we have given you the resources, spent tons of money on the program, and you must go 12-0 or you will be replaced. Is 12-0 a realistic goal probably not, but the expectations each year must match his salary level which is among the highest paid coaches in college football.

    Bohn, Folt, and the Board led by Caruso are running the show. Helton, has lowered the annual expectations for USC football, and the leaders at the top have allowed him to get away with lowering the bar yet still paying him like he is competing successfully each year for national championships which is hardly the case here.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I know we’re boring people with our thesis: Everything Helton touches turns to shit. But it’s true and can’t be said enough. Helton doesn’t know how to put the pieces together. That’s a fatal flaw in a head coach.
      The Air Raid COULD work. But Helton would have to put a better o-line together (which would mean he’d have to attract better talent as position coach). The running backs COULD compliment our Air Raid offense —but that would mean figuring out how to get them in space (something New Orleans never seemed to have any trouble with). And the QB COULD add the dimension every successful Air Raid team requires IF he were mobile (but Helton keeps recruiting pure passers who get screwed when the pocket breaks down).
      And, then, there’s this: “We want to award the UCLA game ball to the person who saw us through this game —Coach Folt!”

      Liked by 3 people

      1. The Air Raid could work, but… how many OL and RB’s in the NFL come from that offense ? Any other coach in college will use that against you in recruiting.

        You have to wonder when or if the mindset goes back to wanting to ” shorten the game ” by running the ball thus running the clock as well as controlling the ball.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Karma,
        As Harrell said yesterday, “My #1 aim is to LENGTHEN the game — so that it’s up for grabs till the very last second. It’s much more exciting when our team only possesses the ball for less than a minute before scoring or turning it over!”

        Liked by 1 person

    1. This is BIG! Liz’s people need to arrange a joint press conference with the juice while he’s still hot to trot. It would be HUGE.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. And —like the hardcore war-lover she is —she didn’t “go gently into the night”…

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Trump, in a statement, praised the closed-door vote to oust her.

        “Liz Cheney is a bitter, horrible human being. I watched her yesterday and realized how bad she is for the Republican Party. She has no personality or anything good having to do with politics or our Country. She is a talking point for Democrats, whether that means the Border, the gas lines, inflation, or destroying our economy,” he said.

        “She is a warmonger whose family stupidly pushed us into the never-ending Middle East Disaster, draining our wealth and depleting our Great Military, the worst decision in our Country’s history. I look forward to soon watching her as a Paid Contributor on CNN or MSDNC!”

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I agree with everything Trump said about Cheney except for ONE thing….
        [On a serious note —the liberals who praise her today forget that she and her family —for reasons of sheer profit —pushed America into a war that killed hundreds of thousands of Iranian citizens and thousands of American soldiers —-for NOTHING]…..


  4. Mckay recruited to lineman that could beat ND, and he recruited size and speed to be as big and faster than the other programs competing for a national championship.

    I don’t see any team running the Air Raid competing every year for a national championship. I do see Helton and Harrell doing their own thing with this air raid while the rest of the country is laughing at us other than the programs that are not competing annually for conference or national championships.

    USC is just trying to be competitive so it is what it is now. The Air Raid will allow you to be somewhat competitive, but since it is a timing non physical offense it is very inconsistent especially against good teams that run the ball and play good solid defense. All teams have 11 players on offense USC features 3-4 receivers to win games where the good teams use all 11 players working together as a complete unit.

    Bottom line is Helton is not competing and trying to match up against the superior programs in the country like Alabama. For that reason he is not what we need at USC, and sadly he has made 7-4 seasons acceptable with 2nd place finishes in the Pac 12 South. USC and Helton himself thinks he is doing a superior job at 7-5 each year, and running away from superior teams with a finesse offense where the top requirement to win is physical straight ahead football with some passing to keep the defense honest.

    At 6 million a year he should be competing with the best programs in the country not just the weak Pac 12. The expectations for USC football have dropped considerably under Clay Helton yet he gets paid to win national championships doesn’t he.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Gomer’s record against teams that are physical is atrocious, he’s soft, his teams are soft, his OC is soft, it’s not going to change, Gomer and Opie are never going to play smashmouth football, never, they don’t know how.

      SC fans just better hope that Opie isn’t handed the keys if and when Gomer is axed.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Seriously —think about it —how do you put together a mean, dominating, physical team if you want to love everybody and be loved by everybody? Helton was created by his Maker to be a 2nd grade music teacher —not the head football coach of USC.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. At best Helton is the school bus driver that greets the kids in the morning, and tells them good bye after dropping them after school.

    Think about it you could hire the Football Coach at Trade Tech, and he would probably go 7-5, or be an annual runner up in the Pac 12 South with the type of players USC has. He might do better if given the amount of time Helton has been around USC.

    Again your paying Helton 6 million bucks a year for a coach that is not qualified or lacks the understanding of how to compete for a national championship. If the expectations at USC are not national championships any longer your paying way too much for a football coach and literally throwing money away.

    Folt, and Bohn say their hands are tied yet they forced the Women’s Basketball Coach into retirement, and he only makes $300,000 a year.
    The buyout is quite expensive, but your still throwing away 6 million bucks a year so why not force Uncle Fester into early retirement. I hate to say it Mike Bohn is beginning to remind me of “Lerch” from the Munsters TV Program- strong, physical appearance but NO BRAINS. Perhaps, we need to put some “Fangs” on Helton just like Eddie Munster had back in the day.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. My apologies “Morticia” (Carol Folt) from the Adams family just reminded me “Lerch” was a vital part of the Adams family not the Munster family. What a crazy family the Adams were, and sadly they would all fit in well with the characters running USC right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My nephew is a senior WR on his team (small high school). They run the air raid. We were watching a USC game a couple of years ago when he just started playing, and he said “Their offensive scheme is almost identical to ours.” I asked “Why do you run the air raid?” His response was “We don’t have an o-lineman over 200 pounds and we don’t have any fast running backs.”

    But my nephew is happy since he catches upwards of 8 balls a game.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My story exactly. 7 ten yard passes per game in CYO football….

      Liked by 2 people

  8. or Get Smart- sure wish we had Agent 99 as our President or Athletic Director. Barbara Feldon- Agent 99 was quite attractive, and sure manipulated Maxwell Smart.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. In High School the air raid might work for sure in flag and touch football. It can fill up the player statistics as the teams can move the from 8o yds, but have difficultly in the red zone because they don’t know how to run the ball. Maybe USC should find another “Refrigerator” like the former Chicago Bears player, and have him run the ball.

    Just like the wishbone the air raid offense is one dimensional, and with time and preparation each for the defense to prepare for.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Numerous times I have made fun of Helton’s spot on his daddy’s team. I mentioned that his dad had him groomed to be second string from the beginning. Maybe my angle is wrong. Maybe Helton’s playing favorites has everything to do with the disrespect shown to him by his coach and father.
    Any coach with a normal football understanding would never prop up a center like Toa. He’s making up for not being loved by daddy. Helton is special, like a psycho.


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