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WeAreSC Mailbag (9-7)



I have a recruiting question.

I think this team is badly missing a dominant edge rusher? We need guys with true double digit sack potential. I’m thinking either someone speedy like a Tim Williams or a Power guy like a Jonathan Allen. Right now we seem to be counting on converted LB’s to fill that role and it shows. Not to be disrespectful to our guys that are working hard but pass rushing is an art form some guys just are. I really believe if you are going to get to a NC game you cannot have this liability.

My question is: Are there any pure pass rushers available in the 2018 that could fill this role?

I think we’ve got a guy with the potential to be that in Oluwole Betiku but so far the light hasn’t gone on yet to fully reach that point. I think he’s close, the coaches think he’s close, and hopefully he gets there. There has been a huge learning curve with Wole since he’s so new to the game but the physical gifts are there.



Will there be any major changes for Saturday’s offense, can we expect it to be more run focused? They seemed to go away from running after first drive for a large part of game and hopefully it was to give receiving corps and Sam more game time since they seemed to be out of sync.

I would love to see this and I think it would be a good strategy to help keep the Stanford offense from doing the same. Stanford can be very methodical in that way and I think we’ve got the running backs and line to do it in our own way.


Garry – Do you think Clay or Tee watched how Ucla used their tight end the other night? Just saying.

You mean the TE who was once on the USC roster? First of all, good for you Caleb Wilson, I always thought he had potential as a good athlete and wish it could have worked out here. I think we’ll be fine as we go along based on how Sam threw to the tight end last year, he truly is “number-blind” as far as throwing to the open receiver and I’d be surprised if we don’t see that in the future.


If Rice played Western Michigan this week, what do you think the score would be?

I think Western Michigan would thump them.


Regarding the misaligned D-Lineman that Helton spoke of, was that primarily Iosefa’s responsibility?

I think it was a factor. Without pointing a finger at Jordan, both the coaches and Cam Smith made the point about people not getting lined up right. And in fairness to Jordan, it’s not a role Cam handled last year either, it was Mike Hutchings. That’s a big responsibility that often gets overlooked.


It was alarming to see Jalen struggle with dropped passes and lack of separation against the likes of WMU. Facing a much better secondary in Stanford, who would you look to rely on as a 2nd and 3rd receiving option to takes some of the load off Deontay? Maybe more from Steven Mitchell? And on a related note, how far along is Pittman’s recovery and do you expect him to play meaningful minutes in this game?

I did think Mitchell had a nice start to the game and he is the kind of experienced player who Helton/Darnold could turn to in a game like this. I’m also still looking at what we’ve seen on the practice field from Tyler Vaughns and his potential to play a bigger role. But the #1 possibility is the return of Daniel Imatorbhebhe, if he is able to get more time in the game I can see him being capable of 5-6 catches to help move the chains in key situations. I don’t expect Pittman to play, Helton said yesterday that Michael is still at least a week away.



I know its early but what order would you put these 3 offensive groups in terms of team strength right now?

WR Group

TE Group

RB group


Helen of Troy


Are we going to win?


Altadena Trojan

A constant problem with Trojan teams has been the quality of tackling. In Saturdays game there were many missed, shed and over run tackles. What can the coaching staff to to rectify this problem. Watching other games this week the quality of tackling by other teams was much better than USC.

When talking with former players and coaches the overwhelming thought on tackling is that to be a good tackling defense you have to work on it consistently in practice. Helton talked this week about the fine line between wanting to be physical in practice and wanting to keep players healthy, and I respect that since USC had a relatively healthy camp. Let’s see what happens against Stanford. If the tackling issues continue then maybe the issue gets a longer look from the coaches, but if the defense comes out and tackles well then that would bode well for a Trojan win.


As the old saying goes, it’s not the X’s and O’s it’s the Willies and the Joes…

I think most of us understand the concept of bringing in a nickel back during passing situations but is there anything that prohibits having a corresponding jumbo package for running situations? More specifically, could a fourth D lineman close to 300 lbs perhaps take the short side of the field in place of a 240 lb OLB?

No, nothing prohibits that type of jumbo package on defense. Would be great to see on Saturday.


All of the pregame talk even from Helton was that WMU’s strength was in their 3 running backs and returning O Line. Everybody knew they were going to run the ball. Their QB was taking his first ever college snaps and finished a horrific 11-22 for 67 yards. So why did we stubbornly stick with 2 DL package and get gashed and dominated on the LOS? I would have liked to see some 4 DL sets with Bigelow, Tufele, and Pili getting some reps. No way the game is as close as it is if we load the box and force their QB to beat us.

It’s a valid question and I don’t know that we ever heard a solid concrete answer. I also think the Stanford game offers the perfect opportunity to move on by coming out and lining up against the Cardinal with a defense that matches up with what they are going to do. If the 2-down linemen approach continues and doesn’t work then there will be plenty of wolves howling at the door, but I don’t expect to see that.


After the game ended it appeared that Helton was less than pleased with Clancy and let him know about it. Things looked a little tense between the two of them. I know you weren’t a fly on the wall, but what do you think the gist of the conversation was? Do you think Helton went so far as to insist that Clancy make some changes to the defense? Helton is not the type to embarrass anyone publicly, but I still think he was in damage-control mode (referring to misalignments rather than a lack of physicality) during his presser. What’s your take on this Garry?

I didn’t see that interaction but I do know that Clancy was as pissed as anyone and he didn’t need Helton to remind him of what he had seen. I will also agree with your comment that Helton seemed in a bit of damage-control mode with those comments about misalignments, and that was the common perception from the media at practice. The best way to nip this talking point right away is to go out and play physical USC football against Stanford on Saturday.


Did Houston already lose his position as a starter? Also — what is the plan for Ced Ware? I saw quotes from the coaching staff about a “1-2 punch”. Did he drop from the 2nd to 3rd/4th option?

Houston was with the 1’s plenty this week in practice although it wouldn’t surprise me if we see Iosefa in there at times, or even Levi Jones. In regards to Ware it’s a tough situation and reality of college football. Ware is a very good running back, he runs hard and has produced solid numbers in his limited opportunities (4.8 yards average per rush in 90 career carries) but I think you are correct, right now I would put him either at 3 or 4 on the depth chart depending on the down/distance since Helton clearly likes to use Vavae in short-yardage. RoJo is the clear #1 and you can’t deny the impact Carr has had so far to move into the #2 role of the 1-2 punch that Helton referred to for the opening game.

Garry Paskwietz
Garry Paskwietz

A 1988 graduate of USC with a degree in Sports Information. Worked in sports marketing for LA Lakers and Miller Brewing Company. Began covering the Trojans in 1996 with the Trojan Football Fax. Founded WeAreSC in November 1998 with stints at Scout and ESPN. Emmy-winner while covering high school football at Fox Sports West.

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