USC Trojans This & That — 8/18

Ryan Kartje (LA Times)  —  For two weeks of fall camp, for better or worse, all USC quarterbacks were created equal. In a few days, that should no longer be the case.

A decision under center, where USC has contended all four of its scholarship signal-callers would get a fair shake, is expected sooner rather than later.

USC coach Clay Helton wouldn’t say after Saturday’s scrimmage at the Coliseum when exactly that decision would be made — or whether it already had been. But Helton did say he and his new offensive coordinator, Graham Harrell, will evaluate the scrimmage tape of all four quarterbacks on Monday.

Considering Helton’s previous suggestion that the competition would go through Saturday’s scrimmage — and Harrell’s edict to narrow the competition down between scrimmages, that meeting could go a long way in determining who is under center this fall.

It has seemed all but certain through a dozen practices that JT Daniels will reprise his role as USC’s starter. The sophomore led the first drive Saturday, followed by freshman Kedon Slovis, then redshirt junior Matt Fink, and finally, sophomore Jack Sears. After the scrimmage, Helton said he was again reminded of how good each quarterback could be — and how much a close competition has helped all four.

“I’ll be honest with you, I’ve never had four quarterbacks that could start on a lot of football teams across the country,” Helton said. “All have played at a high level. [The competition] has really progressed everybody. I’m so glad we’ve done this.”

Each quarterback had the opportunity to lead lengthy possessions during Saturday’s scrimmage, and none of them committed any turnovers. All four mounted touchdown drives, and each had at least one highlight throw down the field.

Daniels threaded the needle on more than a few occasions and appeared to be the most poised of the group. Both Fink and Sears hit sophomore wide receiver Amon-ra St. Brown on deep touchdown passes, and Slovis flashed his arm strength plenty, in spite of not completing his own long score.

But while Helton praised the quarterbacks’ poise, decision making and consistency, no single signal caller stood head and shoulders above the rest on Saturday, Daniels included.

Lucky for them, their receivers made the most of their opportunity in showing off USC’s revamped offense in front of a crowd of more than 10,000 at the revamped Coliseum.

“I thought our receivers made some dynamic plays today,” Helton said. “That’s what they’re supposed to do. We have a rule, ‘If we touch it, we catch it.’ I thought they made some really good plays, and the quarterbacks gave them opportunities to make plays.”

The same couldn’t be said for USC’s running backs, who were shut down throughout Saturday’s scrimmage. Whether that’s a positive reflection on USC’s front seven or a serious concern for its backfield remains to be seen.

The Trojans are still without leading returning rusher Vavae Malepeai, who has been out for most of the last two weeks because of a knee injury. In his stead, the majority of opportunities went to Stephen Carr and Markese Stepp, both of whom have been praised throughout fall camp. On Saturday, neither managed to break a run of more than a few yards. More often than not, they were stuffed at — or behind — the line.

“I think it was just OK today,” Helton said of the run game. “It’s still a work in progress, just being honest.”

Etc.

USC was unable to conduct its planned public tours of the Coliseum’s renovated Scholarship Tower on Saturday, as inspections are still being done on the updated building. Those who attended the scrimmage will, however, be offered a tour at a later date. … St. Brown (groin and hamstring) and redshirt sophomore linebacker Hunter Echols (turf toe) returned to the field for the scrimmage.

latimes.com

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PN4SC
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Helton’s ambiguous comments about our running game(or lack thereof) are further evidence of his complete ignorance and how out of place he is being the head coach of one of college football’s storied programs. Looks like another 6 win season, and at the end, Clay and Lynn trying to spin it positively.
God how I hope both are gone soon.

Trojan5
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Rather than CH being ignorant, how about this for a different point of view? He knows full well the OL is a weak link right now, but he can’t publicly throw them under the bus with negativity. “Being a work in progress, just being honest” isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of his OL. It is just as likely that CH knows he has a problem, as it is that he is ignorant to his teams shortcomings. Whatever his public utterances are, they are far less important than his ability to lead the 2019 Trojans to success. We are going to… Read more »

PN4SC
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Clay’s past performance is why I used the adjective ignorant. I certainly hope he has learned from the past, but I am very doubtful. It would be nice for him to acknowledge that our running game is not acceptable at this point. Instead, we will probably be treated to more of ” the guys fought like warriors”, ” we need to study the film”, and “I can’t wait to see this team in November”.
His ability to lead should be met with great skepticism. I don’t think it is in his DNA.

Chris
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I wouldn’t be surprised by any results this year. The schedule is difficult, but there is no way we play any worse than last year. There isn’t a position group that shouldn’t be improved. The truth is nobody knows until we play other teams.

illinoisusc
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One of my friends who lives in LA went to the scrimmage and was a good football player…….after speaking with him…….going to 6-6 from 7-5. Always hoping for the best but a team that has as many issues as our team 13 days prior to kickoff is in trouble.
We will probably beat Fresno…….what a surprise to Swann…..who thinks we are playing San Diego…..the man is an embarrassment.

LawyerJohn
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I suppose if no quarterback stands out, they’re all about the same, then the choice goes to the incumbent Daniels….No run game, no offensive line play? Or is the defense just that good? Fortunately the various theories and predictions of 2019 SC football will give way to reality in short order.

USCJojo
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If I remember, did USC also have these same issues last year? It’s like every USC fan waking up and finding their alarm clock playing “I’ve got you babe”, by Sonny and Cher every August.
I just can’t wait for game number one vs FSU.

rleeholder1
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I’d also say that the Sonny and Cher song, “The Beat Goes On”, is applicable in terms of issues going into the Fall.