Helton Claims This Team Will Be Special

USC was taken down by Brigham Young.

In the aftermath of the 30-27 overtime defeat at LaVell Edwards Stadium, Trojans coach Clay Helton tried to step in the path of the tumbling snowball before it transformed into a full-scale avalanche.

“This is a nonconference game early in the season,” he said, explaining why the loss shouldn’t be considered a disaster.

Helton might as well have tried to stop the wave of BYU students that cascaded down the bleachers on the south side of the stadium and flooded the field in a sea of blue shirts after a third-down interception thrown by freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis sealed the Trojans’ destiny.

His program is in a death spiral and there is nothing he can do to stop it.

The coach has been around enough to know what the coming weeks and months will be like, his future the subject of constant speculation and the noise around his team amplified.

This is nothing new for Helton, an easygoing type who has largely taken such talk in stride. But a remark he made in the postgame news conference indicated his predicament is starting to get to him.

“We don’t worry about noise,” Helton said. “We live in Los Angeles, California. There’s a ton of damn noise.”

Damn noise.

This from someone who refers to his players’ posteriors as “tails” — as in, “They practiced their tails off this week.”

I declared USC’s season over a couple of weeks ago and the loss to an unremarkable BYU team all but made that official.

USC barely won its season opener against Fresno State, which started a quarterback with virtually no experience.

BYU players pressure USC quarterback Kedon Slovis during the first half of Saturday’s game. (AP)

The win over Stanford last week was a mirage, more of a reflection of the Cardinal’s shortcomings than the Trojans’ strengths.

The Trojans are 2-1, but they very well could have a losing record in four weeks.

Next up for USC is No. 11 Utah, which easily downed BYU earlier this season.

The Trojans visit No. 23 Washington on Sept. 28 and No. 7 Notre Dame on Oct. 12.

The upcoming games could decide the fate of Helton, who lost a backer in Swann.

School president Carol Folt’s decision to appoint Dave Roberts the interim athletic director over senior associate athletic director Steve Lopes was a clue the plan is for the athletic department to undergo a significant makeover.

If Helton wants to be part of this future, he will have to do more than win games. He will have to convince the new administration he can lead the Trojans to a national championship.

Clay Helton lost one of his top supporters at USC when Lynn Swann resigned as athletic director. (AP)

And that’s what made the defeat on Saturday particularly crushing.

Programs with national championship aspirations can’t lose to teams like BYU.

More important, programs with national championship aspirations can’t lose how USC lost to BYU.

“Any time that you have three turnovers to the other team’s none and you’re on the road, that’s going to put you in a hole,” Helton said.

The Trojans never developed an offensive rhythm. Their offensive line was exposed. They didn’t tackle well on defense.

With a little more than eight minutes remaining in the game, BYU kicked a field goal to narrow its deficit to 24-20.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Trojans were flagged for an unnecessary roughness penalty that pinned them back on their own 13-yard line. Two plays later, there was another penalty against USC, this one for holding.

The Trojans went three and out on the drive and punted. BYU scored a touchdown on its next drive, requiring a late field goal from USC kicker Chase McGrath to force overtime.

USC coach Clay Helton watches his players warm up before Saturday’s game against BYU. (AP)

Slovis throwing three interceptions in his first collegiate road game almost has to be expected. He’s a true freshman. But penalties in critical times like this are inexcusable. That isn’t how championship programs play football.

“We’ll correct it and we’ll move on to the next one,” Helton said.

It might be too late.

Helton refused to concede that.

“This is going to be a special team, mark my words,” he said.

The Trojans will have to do something drastic and they will have to do it quickly. If not, what will make this team special is that it’s the last Helton coaches at USC.

latimes.com

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USCJojo
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Listening to the post game interviews by the players, they all seem to say the same things CH says. Colin Cowherd said it best when he said kids take on the personality of the coach. Mistakes seem to be no big deal, “we’ll fix them and move on” is what they were saying. CH’s inability or his neglect of not prioritizing the offensive line is killing him.(or his inability to plan, prepare, & execute) BYU knew their three linemen and one linebacker could control the trenches. They had the perfect plan to beat USC’s air raid, knowing USC would have… Read more »

TrojanMPA90
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The new AD should consider these candidates for the job and be prepared to open the wallet:

1) Lincoln Riley
2) Tom Hermann
3) Chris Peterson
4) Dabo Swinney
5) Kirby Smart
6) Ed Oregeron
7) Matt Campbell

I know that some of these choices are probably very unrealistic but we’re USC and that shouldn’t stop us from getting the best coach out there.

I didn’t put Urban Meyer because he is a winner but a sleazy person otherwise.

Any other names out there to consider?

Chris
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I say take a run at Gary Patterson, or Paul Chryst. Or take the young guys like Josh Huepel, PJ Fleck, or Matt Campbell. They could be great with us.

TrojanMPA90
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I would be fine with Josh Heupel. He’s kept UCF rolling after Scott Frost left for Nebraska.

I would love to also make a run at James Franklin at Penn State.

Steveg
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Bryan Harsin, (Boise) Jeff Tedford (Fresno), Both could be lured to USC, and both proven head coaches. We know the first six on the list are not going anywhere. Whittingham should be the 1st choice asked, although he probably now won’t come. Another possible pair are Locksley(Maryland) or Matt Ruhle(Temple).

rleeholder1
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I know I’ll get some pushback on this, but for the last 4 years I’ve been saying Jack Del Rio. Steve Jordan (SC Placekicker and a teammate of Jack’s) has been doing the same. Jack is a defensive-minded, fiery and competitive guy who will get in a players grill for a stupid mistake rather than hug him like Clay. Jack didn’t have a successful NFL Head Coaching career, but the Jags and Raiders lacked talent and anyone who works for the Davis family in Oakland knows who really calls the shots. I’ve heard rumors that Jack wants the SC job,… Read more »

Uniforminoc
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Urban Meyer is not a sleazy person..

illinoisusc
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I guarantee ………..nothing………..unless Helton catches the flu

PN4SC
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Meyer appears to be a low character guy, and he has made some poor choices, all in the name of winning games. That being said, I would love for SC to can Helton and hire him. He would make us a winner again. And for those of you defending Clay, he keeps lying to the media, pretending that prosperity is just around the corner, even though there is no basis for that.I for one, am sick of his BS. This is probably a moot point- I don’t think our administration could handle the temporary sh*tstorm that would appear on twitter… Read more »

Chris
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Some poor choices? The guy is habitually slimy. His track record is atrocious. He is a great coach, no doubt. But hiring this guy only says one thing, we put winning football games above anything and everything. His Florida teams could start a prison league team. He kept a wife abuser on his staff on two different teams with full knowledge of the situation. Urban Meyer should never be hired by anyone.

It’s sad to say, but if we hire him I’ll stop watching and going to games.

PN4SC
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But you watch now, with an ignorant fool, who continually lies to the media, coaching the team. Makes a lot of sense

Chris
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You equate Clay Helton platitudes and poor coaching to a guy covering up a staff member continually beating up his wife? Makes no sense.

PN4SC
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Clay lies to the media( and to fans) when he falsely claims we are about to achieve greatness. The fact remains, Urban is a great head coach, Clay is a horrible one.
If you were about to have a difficult surgical procedure, would you pick the most accomplished surgeon, or the one who was considered a person of higher character?

Chris
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It’s comparing apples and freight trains.
When considering a football coach, would I choose a proven winner with a very shady track record for a university who is currently under a microscope for long list of athletics violations? No, no I wouldn’t.

Steveg
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Clay just will not face the hard facts and continues to placate everyone to keep himself (in his mind) looking competent. What he doesn’t realize is that everyone has seen through his act and knows what he really is, an OC somewhere in Kentucky.

UtahTrojan
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Don’t let your children watch the Utah game, it will be ugly.

Chris
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Three things I know for sure about the future of USC football

1. Helton isn’t in it.
2. Urban Meyer would have us in the national championship conversation upon arrival.
3. Urban Meyer has proven himself to be ultra slimy and I don’t want him.

I know for sure I’ll take heat for this, but I’d rather lose with Helton being a terrible coach than win with Urban being a terrible human.

He covered up for a wife abuser on his staff for years. It is not up for debate.

Steveg
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But then we would only have him maybe 3 years, then he would either be ill or need to be with his family. What then? No way in hell should USC hire Saint Urban.

ATL D.D.S.
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I disagree–I think we are a program that needs to make a bold move. I think Urban Meyer has some image recasting to accomplish. To hell with what the others think. USC and Urban can help each other. We haven’t had a great coach in a decade. Urban wants to not have the end-point of his career be his confused exit from tOSU. For a few years, maybe more, both ships will be righted to the mutual advantage of everyone involved. Urban will be a boy scout–don’t worry. But he will be a hard-ass coach who knows how to build… Read more »

ATL D.D.S.
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Chris–Football ain’t beanbag. We are not looking for NCAA man of the year. In this era, that and 5 bucks gets you a fancy beverage at Starbucks. It sucks to say it, but nice guys finish last in this game.

Steveg
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Clancy claimed he simplified the defense. If that is the case, why was there so much confusion and missed coverages?

TrojanMPA90
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Our guys have no clue how to defend end arounds or trick plays. Isn’t that something you practice?

Steveg
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We used to call it “staying home”. Cam Smith was great at it, but then he couldn’t move real fast anyway.

TrojanRJJ
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Just read Kevin Bruce’s analysis and watched Dan Weber’s game summary. Per Kevin, unless major changes are made, we stand no chance against Utah. Basically, BYU borrowed UW’s defense scheme for the “Air Raid”. GH was simply not ready for it. How is that possible? He also panned the OL as just awful. This team will not win any tough games with B level QB play and D level OL play. Add in an unprepared OC and you get what happened yesterday in Provo. Kevin also said the DL and the LBs are slow and stiff. We need more speed… Read more »

Jamaica
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You can’t believe 75% of whatever Clay Helton says. His schtick got old 2-years ago and why anyone accepts what he says is their fault completely. I had a concern about Slovis throwing against a defensive backfield that practices against a passing game like BYU. He was good the first drive and then BYU made defensive adjustments. They zoned in cover 1 & 2 and became opportunistic. It caused GH to call a one-sided offense throughout the 3rd quarter in just rushing the ball. You expect picks running air raid, but you better have a defense to overcome most of… Read more »

Golden Trojan
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This is an average college football team. They are on par with Fresno and BYU, better than a bad Stanford. They will be 2-4 in 4 weeks, playing 3 good teams. The second half on the season I see them 4-2 at best. Oh well, brighter days are ahead.

TrojanMPA90
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Don’t know if we can beat Cal or ASU right now. Definitely UCLA for sure and maybe Arizona and Colorado.

Paul_Muad_dib
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Helton having a severe case of loser denial again…

PN4SC
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The ignorant fool that claimed” this team will be special” is the same ignorant fool that said early last season after a near blown game to Arizona that” I can’t wait to see this team in November”. We all no how that worked out.
Give it up Clay- you don’t have a clue and will say anything in the short term to save your Ass!

trojandn
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Posters on other boards are saying that Harrell left without taking questions from the press about the game. They are implying that Helton called the plays in the second half and in OT. Does anyone know if there is any truth to these rumors …Allen?

LH1963
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Actually, he’s right, they will be special. This team will be the one that ends the Clay Helton era. It may be one of my favorite Trojan teams.

Steveg
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I am dreading Friday night. With our injuries, lack of quality game management, and this week our O line being exposed brutally, I am going to have to get a new bottle of scotch. Stepp is our bright spot, and Slovis I am sure has now realized his mistakes and has seen some genuine pressure, which will be even hotter Friday. For him learning from this he can only get even better, one would assume.

TrojanMPA90
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We lost yesterday’s game because of the following things: 1) Three Intereceptions (Two leading to 10 points and 1 to the end of the game) 2) No edge containment and leaving the middle wide open for Zach Wilson to score. 3) Inability to spread the ball around to multiple receivers 4) Poor punting 5) Dumb penalties that cost us yardage 6) Blown calls by officials (Pittman’s foot was down) 7) Lack of preparation by all of the coaches for playing at high altitude. 8) Not feeding a hot running back in Stepp and sticking with backs like Carr who couldn’t… Read more »

TrojanRJJ
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On your last comment on the new AD – from your post to God’s ears!

Steveg
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I agree with all you have said. One question though, how do you prep a team who lives, eats, goes to school, practices, and sleeps at sea level. I guess go practice all week in Big Bear? Any ideas? You take all the above and it lumps into one thing, the head coach being clueless. You missed some bad play calls but you nailed player selection. Weren’t the defensive players rotating? I have to admit I didn’t notice.

usc50
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Have to agree with all your points. And have to add a couple more. Add in poor tackling. Player was there to make a play but unable to lock up. Coming in too fast and trying an arm tackle. See it too many times now. And adjustments made were poor. The other teams have figured out Harrells style and he has to adjust. BYU played 8+ players back with 3 man line and dared USC to run. Harrell has to make adjustments to improve the running game if they have most of their players back. Or something like screen pass… Read more »

LawyerJohn
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Take-Aways from the game, or on the Lighter-Side:—- Hope Slovis got the girls he wanted last week working off his ‘one-week of fame’ debut. I questioned whether Slovis was a one-game wonder; but despite his errors he’ll do well. SC-BYU were evenly matched, both fought hard, and game could have easily gone either way. And let us not harp on referee errors; they happen; and in this game they evened out… Besides, it was a very entertaining and pretty well played football game with no lost fumbles… And as an SC fan weren’t you a bit nervous and felt really… Read more »

Trojan5
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After a good nights sleep & a little time to think about yesterday, here are a few thoughts: — Sedon Slovis is not the 2nd coming. Never was, never will be. It is unfair to place that tag on him. — Slovis made 2 gigantic mistakes yesterday. They led to a TD, FG, and the end of the game. He wasn’t why USC lost; it was the collective failures of the entire team. —JT Daniels never received the “forgiveness” & benefit of the doubt Slovis is being given. Precious few (Allen is a noticeable exception) acknowledged the historically bad offensive… Read more »

Steveg
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What I have seen Clay do in his pressers is speak in such generalities you get nothing from him. The questions on specifics are like things that he hasn’t thought about or noticed but we all did. His answer is always “watch tape”. I wonder if he even sees the shortcomings of play on the field and is making a list from the question he is asked for what to look for on tape. Most other coaches will address specific moments or overall general play, but Clay is clueless as to what he just went through for the previous 3… Read more »

thekatman
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No on Wittingham. He’s a notorious skirt chaser in SLC and USC doesn’t need another person in a leadership role doing something stupid like that.

Steveg
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Never heard that about him. How does he stay married? I would have to hear it from other sources. Anyone else heard bad about Whit?

UtahTrojan
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No. It is not true. Whit is a great DC and a good HC.

PN4SC
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Whittingham have forgotten more about running a successful football program than Helton will ever no. He would be a welcome addition, and would succeed here, but I am convinced he would never come.

Steveg
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PN, I agree with you, although he should be the very first person they go after I doubt he would want it now. A few years ago perhaps, but that train has left the station. I find it hard to believe what thekatman wrote, very very hard. If he cannot substantiate it he should keep his mouth shut.

UtahTrojan
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Where did you hear this?

ATL D.D.S.
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Katman–were you in the sauce when you said this? lol

LawyerJohn
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Aside from a few great college football teams, nearly every game can be seen as close to a 50-50 proposition. If SC-BYU played each other 10 times this year, it would not be surprising to see the two schools evenly split the series. Of course, Trojan fans would probably accept a 50% chance of beating Utah, Washington or Notre Dame in the next weeks, but the oddsmakers won’t see it that way, and will have Troy as solid underdogs in each of those games. So I am working on being a good sport, congratulating the victors, and accepting SC losses… Read more »

Steveg
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Your last team is always special.

TrojanRJJ
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I think this writer got it right. BYU adjusted to Kedon, dropped 7 or 8 and dared S.C. to run. Results speak for themselves. Looks like Vegas got it right – 6 wins. Unless a miracle happens, S.C. will at best be 1-2 in the next 3, leaving the team 3-3. Allowing for losses to Oregon and ASU, season is 7-5. And, that is optimistic. The Helton Era is over. Clay is the luckiest man alive. He got a job for which he was not qualified, lucked into a transcendent QB who made him appear competent and made a fortune.

rleeholder1
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I’m right there with you TrojanRJJ. What we have paid Helton during his tenure is a travesty. I’d put Pendergast in that light too. We supposedly have the 4th best talent in the country, yet are coaches are at the bottom of the barrel IMO. I saw the same “Gumbo” Offense yesterday so I don’t know if Harrell is an improvement yet. He needs time to prove himself worthy of the hire; Clay, Clancy and Baxter don’t need more time. I see 6-6 this season but maybe 7-5 if we are lucky. If we don’t beat the team in Westwood,… Read more »

TrojanRJJ
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rlee, Please, no more mid year firings. This team is going nowhere. Let Clay finish the year (and ignore anything he says) and then move on with a new coach. No competent AD would trust his or her future to Clay. He got a job for which he was not qualified and then proved himself incapable of doing that job (but got an extension anyway!). Happens. Stinks it happened at SC, but it did. And, Clay is set for life. He can fully retire after he is fired. And, he will be fired. So far, we have seen the same… Read more »

rleeholder1
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TrojanRJJ, I agree on letting Helton finish the season and no more mid-year firings. I was planning to go see SC play ASU in Tempe in early November but don’t want to drive 3 hours (I live in Lake Havasu and am retired) to see a road loss. All I get on cable here is ASU and Arizona so I’m sure it will be televised.

PN4SC
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I don’t see a win in the next three games

Jamaica
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Get used to seeing cover1 & 2 with an 3 extra DB each week. I was surprised GH didn’t stick more to his game plan using the pass more in the 2nd half. Smells like Helton got in his way?

Uniforminoc
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He’s not wrong. The team is special, just not with him as head coach!! However, it’s not his fault. He was never the right guy. Does anyone have Urban’s cell number??

UtahTrojan
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Not a big fan of Urban, but we have to do something.