Morning Buzz: Has USC Learned When To Run The Ball?

A reader flagged this Monday: During USC’s final scrimmage Saturday, it had four plays near the goal line and QB Kedon Slovis threw four incomplete passes.

I thought the coaches talked during training camp about being dedicated to establishing a running game but maybe offensive coordinator Graham Harrell just couldn’t resist his impulses on the final series of training camp. He really doesn’t care about running the ball no matter what he says in public.

Harrell justified the comment by former USC tailback Markese Stepp that the Trojans run a “pretty (boy) offense.”

The true test will be the San Jose State game, I suppose, but USC will be very confident in that game and just might throw four times.

  • The big Pac-12, Big Ten, ACC alliance is expected to announced today. It’s important to remember that this alliance tends to be more about governance — combating ESPN and SEC — than scheduling, which is what many fans prioritize.

You might see USC play a Big Ten or Big 12 team down the road but it’s not expected to be the centerpiece of the alliance.

  • USC did not remove the bio of former assistant basketball coach Jason Hart from its website until Monday. He resigned July 28.

Presumably the next step will be adding new assistant coach Jay Morris to the website later this week.

30 thoughts on “Morning Buzz: Has USC Learned When To Run The Ball?

  1. If any USC coach gets fired this year it will be Graham Harrell because of the crap offense he runs.

    USC will keep Helton no matter what and they’ll just have to find another offensive coordinator.

    Maybe they’ll have whoever the current QB coach is do the offensive play calling like they did vs Ohio St. in the Cotton Bowl once they wake up and realize that the air raid isn’t effective vs decent teams.

    Helton and Tee Martin’s play calling was so shit leading up to the Cotton Bowl game, they handed the play calling duty to a nobody.

    If not for Sam Darnold & Co. improvising and running for his life throughout the season they never would have reached the Cotton Bowl.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I only have one more year of Helton ball in me. If they dont either 1) win a CFP game or 2) fire helton, I am out. We all know they wont win a CFP game, so that means 2). As a fan, I have tried to stay positive when there are good things happening at SC. I see some small improvements here and there, quality S&C program, quality defensive coaches, quality special teams coaching. But at this point, it is too difficult to see the huge chasm between what SC football could be and what it is. It is just too much to see the next T-mac leave the state and go to Oregon.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I was watching the replay of a USC Cal game (I think 2016) And most of the ground gained was on the ground. I guess I can paraphrase “Those who live by the pass, die by the (incomplete) pass.
    If all you do is pass, then the shorter the field, the easier it is to defend against. Another replay 1982 USC Ucla game going for two after making a touchdown on the final play. Ucla creamed the quarterback who was back to pass.
    It was too easy for them to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ronald Jones has 18 carries for 223 yards in that game and he did it with no blocking whatsoever from the Trojan offensive line.

      He looked like Barry Sanders, running sideways and backwards until he saw an opening he could run through.

      Had RoJo had any kind of an offensive line to run behind while at USC he would have won a Heisman. He should have won a Heisman, but he couldn’t overcome Helton’s knack for wasting talent.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. After Clay’s brother Tyson Helton quit three weeks before the Cotton Bowl vs Ohio St. USC promoted this clown Ellis to do the play calling…

    Bryan Ellis, an offensive administrative assistant, has been promoted to coach quarterbacks for the Cotton Bowl, leaving the staff with the allotted nine full-time assistant coaches. Ellis was previously an assistant at Western Kentucky and also played quarterback at University of Alabama-Birmingham, then coached by Neil Callaway, the Trojans’ offensive line coach.


    USC incompetence at it’s finest!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Wolf

    Your bio comment is funny considering you call yourself inside USC. What a hoot. Not sure the ticket office would even sell you a ticket to Songfest.

    FYI – you downplay P12B10ACC alliance, yet if B12 did it with the other two conferences you would rip the new P12 commissioner.

    Have a nice day eating your crow and try not not to choke.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Examining the lineups for USC and UCLA makes it clear we are a much stronger, better balanced team than UCLA. And we’re more talented on offense than Washington or Oregon.
      If we stay healthy & don’t win the Pac 12 this year it’s all on Helton.
      P. S.
      Is Scott saying we’ll throw a total of 4 times in the San Jose State game? Or we’ll throw 4 times in a row in first and goal situations?

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I demand a clarification! [Actually, I usually know where Scott is going on this stuff. But —this time —I’m left wondering. Could he be saying this game represents a great opportunity to test our running game? If he is, I agree. It would make it a more physical game —and I know Helton is always worried about injuries. But it would help our offense down the line]……

        Liked by 2 people

  5. USC is now Texas Tech/WSU U— When Harrell was at Texas Tech all they did was throw the ball on just about every down, and take a look at their record. One year they surprised Texas at home, but other than that mostly just above 500 seasons. Sorry, folks he does not understand how the running game works, and is too stubborn to change unfortunately. Moving the ball in the red zone is one of the true weaknesses of the air raid with narrow passing lanes, and if you can’t run the ball you are doomed. Markese Stepp, is 100% correct this is a flag football non-physical offense, and for sure he made the correct decision to transfer.

    Mckay use to say to beat ND, and win a national championship we need to get bigger, faster, stronger, and much more physical than our opponents up front so we can beat them at their own game. We are not trying to compete for a national championship that is for sure if we are running this stupid air raid offense. The weak programs are running away from their opponents the top teams in the country year in and year out have a strong running game, and attack the competition up front on both sides of the ball.

    History does not lie. The air raid will not win USC a national championship. Big mistake by Helton to bring this air raid offense to USC makes me wonder if he is just trying to be competitive in the Pac 12 every year like Washington State.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. McKay believed in physical, smash mouth football. But after Oklahoma scored that 33- 20 (or something like that) victory over USC he said “we need more speed.” And he went out and got it. The thing is –he mixed that offensive speed with a powerful O-Line and a killer defense. He NEVER relied on speed and finesse alone. Football games involve finesse….but they’re also, at bottom, fistfights.
      That, ladies and gents, is NOT where Helton is coming from. And recruits know it…and so do opposing coaches.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. Speaking of 4 passes at the goal line, anyone remember the 2012 game against the #1 ranked domers at the coli? I could swear that Lane called the same pass play to Soma Vainuku at least 3 times, maybe 4 at the goal line in the third quarter that would have put USC up and given them a chance for the upset. There was one ND penalty, so USC ended up having 5 plays at the goal line. 90,000 plus at the coli, great energy, but we didn’t score, and we lost 22-13. ND didn’t have much outside of their tailback, whom we couldn’t stop, he ran for something like 150 or more yards. Couldn’t bring him down. Silas Redd and Robert Woods kept us in the game, Wittek gave it a great effort, but 2 int. were costly.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. As Wittek himself said after the game, “I have to work on situational football.”
      Wittek was another example of a physically talented QB who didn’t grow during his time at USC. Or at Hawaii either. [In other words, can’t blame this one on USC —it’s more on Wittek]…..

      Liked by 2 people

  7. After finishing 120th in D1 for team rushing, there is nowhere to go but up in the running game. Plus Harrell knows he is on the hot seat as much as Helton.

    A big side benefit of rushing is keeping the D off the field. Defense ranked 78th in total D in 2019, improved to 40th last year, if they can get in the 20s this year, then good things can happen.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The defense this year should be much improved with more speed and physical play inside. This should help alot most of the pass happy offensive teams in the West win games by scoring alot of points so this should keep us in games, and get the offense back on the field to do their thing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. If the defense is as effective as I think it’s gonna be, USC will never need to score more than 28 to beat any team on our schedule —including Notre Dame.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. AUGUST 24, 2021 AT 5:59 PM

        If the defense is as effective as I think it’s gonna be, USC will never need to score more than 28 to beat any team on our schedule —including Notre Dame.

        – Michael Guarino

        This ^^^^^ is your brain on drugs…then shoved up your ass.


  9. Wow….check out the live Tommy Cam on the Fight On. Com site. Nice live shot of the USC campus today showing all the USC students roaming around campus. Nice to see the campus alive once again.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. The goal is to win games and a lot of them. If you can win the big games with a pretty boy offense then so be it. I’m guessing they won’t be able to. You need a running game to mount drives and especially inside the 20 yard line.


  11. My biggest concern is the USC offensive line and the ability to run the football effectively. I do not want to see four passes with first and goal inside the five yard line.


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