Can USC’s Offense Really Finally Be Balanced?

Will USC football find a balanced offense this season?

Newcomers like tailback Keaontay Ingram, a transfer from Texas, could help the Trojans beef up their run game.

Adam Grosbard (OC Register)  —  LOS ANGELES — It’s been a recurring talking point prior to recent seasons. The desire for USC football to have a more balanced offense, not just relying on the air attack to move the ball down the field and wear out opposing defenses.

The run game has not met its side of the bargain the past couple of years. But after a makeover of the running back room and revamp of the offensive line, head coach Clay Helton feels like USC can be a threat on the ground again, without deviating from the Air Raid philosophy of taking what defenses present.

“You play us in Cover 1, you’re probably going to get a lot of throws, and if you play a lot of Drop 8, you’re probably going to get a lot of runs,” Helton said Tuesday, “and I think we’re better equipped in that running game now because of those two rooms with the offensive line and running backs.”

For the running backs, it was about a change in personnel. Stephen Carr and Markese Stepp both transferred out of the program, leaving room for a wave of transfers in. Former Texas back Keaontay Ingram joined USC, as did TCU transfer Darwin Barlow along with freshman Brandon Campbell.

He looks poised to share most of the snaps with returning starter and captain Vavae Malepeai, who says he feels the healthiest he ever has entering a season.

“We’ve got guys in that room that need touches and try to get them in space with the football and just let them go be them,” offensive coordinator Graham Harrell said.

As for the offensive line, USC brought in a new position coach, Clay McGuire, who has a history in the Air Raid and can help the players understand the intricacies of their duties. And two redshirt freshmen, Jonah Monheim and Courtland Ford, have taken over the starting tackle jobs to provide a fresh look up front.

“The lack of our ability to have balance towards the end of the year cost us the Pac-12 championship,” running backs coach Mike Jinks said. “And that’s something that’s been addressed on all levels. It’s been nice to see it take its life in fall camp.”

Quarterback

Kedon Slovis returns as the starter, feeling like a healthier version of himself after last year struggling through the mental recovery following an elbow injury. He says that after the summer workouts, this is the fall camp where he hasn’t lost strength in his arm.

He’ll have a lot of new faces to throw to this season, and a new backup after Jaxson Dart won the job over fellow true freshman Miller Moss.

Running Back

In addition to Ingram and Malepeai, Kenan Christon has improved as camp has progressed, flashing his trademark speed. But he still has been a liability when it comes to pass blocking in the backfield. Barlow is still dealing with a hamstring injury that’s limited him for most of camp, and Helton said it looks like Barlow will be a game-time decision for the season opener against San Jose State.

Offensive Line

USC returns three starters: center Brett Neilon, right guard Liam Jimmons and left guard Andrew Vorhees. Those spots were set in stone all camp, as a competition ran through August for who would be the two bookends for the offensive line.

As the dust settled, Monheim emerged at right tackle and Ford at left.

“You give those guys a couple more years and those are guys who are going to be really, really good football players,” Harrell said. “They already are and we need them to play at a high level.”

Jalen McKenzie, last year’s starter at right tackle, and Justin Dedich figure to be the first two reserves for USC on the line.

Wide Receiver

Beyond budding superstar Drake London, USC has had a lot of turnover at receiver.

Amon-Ra St. Brown and Tyler Vaughns left to pursue playing in the NFL. Bru McCoy has been temporarily removed from team activities pending a Title IX review of his arrest July 24 on suspicion of felony intimate partner violence with injury. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office has declined to file charges against the redshirt sophomore, citing insufficient evidence.

Kyle Ford and Gary Bryant Jr. are returning guys fighting for snaps, while Memphis transfer Tahj Washington has been impressive in camp. Freshmen Joseph Manjack IV and Michael Jackson III have shined in camp, too.

Tight End

This might be as talented at tight end as USC has been during the Helton era. Starter Erik Krommenhoek returns, as does Jude Wolfe after a foot injury. Texas transfer Malcolm Epps is close to a return after turf toe prematurely ended his camp, and freshman Michael Trigg has been one of the breakout stars of August.

ocregister.com

___________

TrojanDailyBlog members  —  Always feel free to add information or topics to the TDB which don’t necessarily pertain to any particular moderator post or member comment.

 

SUBSCRIBE HERE TO RECEIVE NOTICE OF NEW COMMENTS OR REPLIES.
Notify of
19 Comments
newest
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
RialtoTrojan
Noble Genius
RialtoTrojan
Offline
September 2, 2021 10:58 am

I hadn’t noticed it until someone pointed it out below, but Helton used the word “Probably” twice in describing the balance of his offense. Very Catlike Clay, maybe I’ll eat the food or maybe not. Probably I’d like to come in, but I don’t think so. My first reaction was, “Who is going to tell the Cat what defense they are running?” Are we in for a season of rock, paper, scissors decision making? Just reading comments like that from Cat Clay should give Bohn cause to paws (see what I did there?) This Clay experiment needs to end. Fire… Read more »

TrojanMPA90
Noble Genius
TrojanMPA90
Offline
September 2, 2021 8:54 am

Our whole success on offense starts with and ends with how well the offensive line plays. If they are able to run block and pass block, the offense should thrive. Otherwise it is going to be Slovis running for his life like JT Daniels went through in 2018.

TrojanRJJ
Noble Genius
TrojanRJJ
Offline
September 2, 2021 8:25 am

I really do not get it. Anyone who has followed SC football for the last two seasons and is rational would not have written the above article. There is NO WAY SC football in 2021 will have balance between the pass and the run. This is a Mike Leach inspired O, and Mike Leach O’s run only when the other team does not expect it. I remember one WSU game (I think it was against Utah) where Leach never ran the ball even once. My recollection is WSU won the game anyway. As Allen says below, reporters are not interested… Read more »

illinoisusc
Noble Genius
illinoisusc
Offline
September 2, 2021 7:01 am

Now that wearesc has gone behind a pay wall for quite a bit of their boards….this site should pick up some new attention…..good for the discussion!

Rushmore
Rushmore
Offline
September 2, 2021 6:56 am

So, according to Coach Helton if the opponents “play a lot of Drop 8” the Trojans will “probably” run “a lot”. And if it’s Cover 1, the passing game will predominate. Looks like the team is well prepared for two defensive schemes. But what if neither scheme is used? I think Helton’s answer to that question would be, “we’re going to pray a lot.” I’m not feeling good about the run game given the unintended admission by the Coach that the tackles will be really good in about two years.

volunteerTrojan
Noble Genius
September 2, 2021 7:16 am
Reply to  Rushmore

The Cat is the emperor who continues to wear his invisible clothes…he has his own reality.

Jamaica
Noble Genius
Jamaica
Offline
September 1, 2021 9:27 pm

You know, if the reporters who show up at Helton’s press conferences would challenge whatever he says, and they every reason in the past 5-years to do so. Maybe then Helton would get a clue he doesn’t fool anyone.

RialtoTrojan
Noble Genius
RialtoTrojan
Offline
September 1, 2021 9:14 pm

A letter from Mike Bohn is saying that being on campus Saturday is not going to happen. The band won’t be playing at Heritage Hall or Cromwell field. Getting into the stadium may take time. On the bright side the platitudes are gearing up.
My family is already making plans on Saturdays knowing that I want to see games, but expecting no improvement.
I hope the hype is real but I expect it is just hype. I hope there is a replacement plan when Helton Helton’s. (a verb)

Golden Trojan
Major Genius
Golden Trojan
Offline
September 1, 2021 8:29 pm

Harrell said“You give those guys a couple more years and those are guys who are going to be really, really good football players,”
In 2 years SC will have 2 really, really good tackles. That is SC’s tackles. Good luck running the ball let alone pass blocking. 2 freshmen, by game 7 they will be mentally and physically gassed and making mistakes.

PN4SC
Genius Member
PN4SC
Offline
September 1, 2021 7:16 pm

For a man everyone refers to as good, decent, etc, Helton sure does lie a lot, to the media, fan base and AD Bohn.
I never read what he says anymore. I just tune it out as Pollyannaish hype, not to be taken seriously

Steveg
Noble Genius
Steveg
Offline
September 1, 2021 7:05 pm

Is this the year for this, is this the year for that. Saturday we will know. Right now and until Saturday, it is all talk, and coming from Helton, it is meaningless talk. I would have to think other coaches are drooling over USC having two redshirt freshmen at tackles, yet CH thinks it is THE CURE. We had good backs leave and new backs came in, but the backs have to have a hole, something that has been omitted from the playbook for the last 5 years. Again, I hope the staff can coach around and in spite of… Read more »

UtahTrojan
Noble Genius
UtahTrojan
Offline
September 1, 2021 6:48 pm

On e this article provided a quote from Helton about how good we would be I lost interest.

UtahTrojan
Noble Genius
UtahTrojan
Offline
September 1, 2021 7:25 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Since I don’t want to pay for therapy I just drink heavily.

Steveg
Noble Genius
Steveg
Offline
September 2, 2021 1:57 pm
Reply to  UtahTrojan

I do believe liquor sales skyrocket during USC football season.

rleeholder1
rleeholder1
Offline
September 1, 2021 6:57 pm
Reply to  UtahTrojan

Helton has that affect on me too. He has more hot air than a politician. That and his “Gee Wiz” quotes make me puke. I just hope Bohn lets Helton’s contract expire and we get a new HC in 2023.

Chris
Major Genius
Chris
Offline
September 1, 2021 6:28 pm

0 % chance we will have even a single game with as many rush attempts as pass attempts this year. But I dont think that should be our idea of balance. I think balance should be running it well when we do. Picking up 3rd a d short on the ground. Forcing opposing defenses out of 3 man fronts and dropping 8.

Privacy Policy
Copyright © 2024 Trojan Daily Blog — Primer Child WordPress theme by GoDaddy
19
0
Go to top of Commentsx
()
x