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Defensively Speaking: Pac-12 Championship Game

By now most of you have read various articles and posts regarding Friday night’s embarrassment.

Another embarrassment in a long history of Clay Helton-led beat-downs. Coach Helton generally only gets beat down when it really matters…like in Pac-12 Championship on our home field. I do have a confession to make.

Friday, I flew in from Chicago and when I got home I decided to watch the Hallmark Channel Christmas movies with my wife. Honestly, there was more uncertainty in the Hallmark movies whether there would be a happy ending compared to the certainty that Oregon was going to clean our clock. One of my real concerns was if Slovis could make it through the entire without a serious injury. And now he’s out with a shoulder injury. I’m tired of being right, but it so easy with Helton as head coach.

Let’s face it, nothing is going to get substantially better with Clay Helton as head coach. Change the defense, change the offense, change the special teams and where do we land? Same spot and boy, do we stick the landing. We all know this to be true.

And I’ll offer up the decision whether to retain or terminate Helton’s employment is really not under serious consideration. University leadership loves our graduation rate. For the record, the issue of Helton’s guaranteed contract of annual base pay of $4.5 million (brilliant decision, Swann) is not an impediment in making a change.

By Helton’s own metric, he has not been a consistently successful coach at USC: “We’re judged on championships here — that’s the beauty of this place, that’s the expectation, that’s the standard, that’s what we fight for, that’s why the hearts are broken in that locker room because that’s the only thing we will accept as a team is a championship,” Helton said. “The fact of the matter is we’re really close, but we obviously didn’t get it done tonight and that’s the next step.”

In five years as the full-time coach at USC, the Trojans have won one Pac-12 championship, one bowl game, and even won the Pac-12 South just twice.

Look, I’m going to get to some football soon, but it seems like such an empty exercise right now. But I promised Garry P. that I would never quit on this site and you, the incredible followers of WeAreSC.com. So I won’t…

Our defense was similar to prior versions. We used a nickel as our base with an occasional dime but with nickel back or safety in the box. Frankly the defense was sorta ok with just enough stops to give the offense a chance. Secondary coverage was predictable with man/press with cornerbacks and single high safety, occasional two high safeties and I noticed two situations
when we used a Cover 3 look. Line play was ok (as in average plus). Marlon Tuipulotu again had a very quiet night with only two tackle assists. Drake Jackson had four tackle assists but no solo tackles, sacks or TFLs. Basically we’ve neutralized our best LOS players. Hufanga had a tackle-heavy game but his performance will forever be defined by his penalty against the punter. A senior outstanding player has to know better than to take that kind of chance in this type of game.

Shout Outs:
Kana’I Mauga
Isaiah Pola-Mao
Nick Figueroa
Tuli Tuipulotu
Ben Griffiths

So there it is. Another disappointment among many. Let’s hope that we will see real Trojan football return soon. Fight On!

Kevin Bruce

Kevin earned his MBA and BS in Business Administration/Finance & Econometrics from the University of Southern California, where he also played four years of varsity football, serving as co-captain and playing in three Rose Bowls. Kevin’s college honors included All-American (AP-Honorable Mention), All Pac-8 Conference - Linebacker (1st) and Academic All-American, two NCAA National Championships (football), NCAA Post Graduate Scholarship recipient and Trojan Diamond Award-outstanding graduating senior. He is a member of Football Writers Association of America and is a contributor to WeAreSC.com.

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