9 min Read

IMHO Sunday: How good?

In my humble opinion, cardinal and gold thoughts on what I see, what I hear, and what I think.

High goals: At Wednesday’s Pac-12 Media Day, Trojans’ head coach Clay Helton said, “It was three years ago, I’m sitting there as interim head coach, and here these guys are as freshmen (LBs Porter Gustin and Cameron Smith – photo above No. 35) and saying let’s do something special. Let’s have fun together, be a family, compete for a Pac-12 title. We won the Pac-12 South. This group has won a Rose Bowl, Pac-12 title now, and now wants to compete for a national title.”

IMHO High goals translation: Inexperienced 2018 USC quarterbacking won’t be an excuse for failing to attain the highest goal of competing for a national title. Georgia competed for a national title last season with a true freshman quarterback in Jake Fromm. While most would agree that a national title run for Troy is more realistic in 2019, nothing lost trying in 2018. The real question is are the heralded recruiting classes of the past three years enough to “cover” for an inexperienced quarterback?

High goals – Part 2: Helton added, “As nice as winning a Rose Bowl was and Pac-12 title was, like I told our guys, let’s don’t pat ourselves on the butt until we win a National Championship and where we belong. Then we’ll pat ourselves on the butt and try to get another one.”

IMHO High goals translation – Part 2: You just know the “where we belong” comment by Helton strokes the pleasure of the Trojans’ faithful and the boosters. Then again, hasn’t that been the expectation all along and embedded in the USC football DNA, so help me Howard Jones, John McKay, John Robinson, Pete Carroll? Somebody is going to coach USC to its next national championship, the question is will it be Clay Helton?

Game of the Year: Regarding Utah at Wednesday’s Pac-12 Media Day, Clay Helton said, “The last two years have come down to the last play, it seems like. We’ll have the opportunity to go back to Rice-Eccles, which is a phenomenal place to play, an electric atmosphere with great fans, love their team and love football there. It’s always been a fun game. Always great to compete against Kyle and his team. You know you’re in for a physical opponent, a very well-coached opponent.”

IMHO Game of the Year translation: Limiting the 2018 USC season to one regular season conference Game of the Year seems a bit limiting, but one gets the impression that the visit to Utah on Oct. 20 could likely be the Pac-12 South decider. Clay Helton knows the South title likely goes through Salt Lake City.

Remember this quote: Clay Helton seems to be laying the groundwork for his quarterback competition in training camp when he said at Pac-12 Media Day, “It’s going to be about who the best player is in the moment. It doesn’t matter his age to me, because not any of them (Matt Fink, Jack Sears, J.T. Daniels) have great experience. Who is going to be able to move our football team, move our offense and put the ball in the end zone in training camp. Because of the reps, we will do some things that provide more reps for us at that position.”

IMHO Remember this quote translation: “Age doesn’t matter to me” and
“who is the best player in the moment.” I am sure Clay wasn’t thinking about J.T Daniels when those comments were made for public consumption…right! No, the competition won’t be “rigged”, but it’s clear that “all” the QB candidates will start equally.

Remember this quote – Part 2: As for the timetable to announce the Trojans quarterback before the UNLV opener, Clay Helton added, “I think it will be later than sooner, I just don’t have a crystal ball to when that is.”

IMHO Remember this quote translation – Part 2: Count on it that Clay Helton will name his quarterback after the final scrimmage with less than two weeks before the UNLV opener. To name a quarterback prior to a final scrimmage would give the appearance of “rigged” competition.

From the press box…

Forbidden: The Trojans 2018 training camp and practice schedule was released last week, and it was announced that the general public will be excluded from attending training camp and regular season practices…unless given permission by the athletic department.

Forbidden – Part 2: What it all means is that unless you have some pull, the first time you’ll see your beloved Trojans in action will be the opening game against UNLV on Saturday, Sept. 1. If it makes you feel any better, there are even select dates that the media will also be excluded from practice, but it could be worse. There are many programs that don’t give the media access to any practices, and we are honestly grateful that Clay Helton is rational about such matters.

Forbidden – Part 3: Now, if you really want to see some early contact with your 2018 Trojans, the best bet would be to attend Salute to Troy (6 p.m.) on Friday night, Aug. 17. Okay, it isn’t a practice or scrimmage, but it is a chance to get your cardinal and gold juices flowing with an up-close and personal interaction with the team – not to mention the usual dinner buffet, firewater, Trojans Marching Band, and famous USC Song Girls. FYI, email invitations for Salute to Troy were sent out this past week to athletic boosters and contributors.

Broadcast teams: ABC’s Saturday Night Football announcing team will again include Chris Fowler (play-by-play), Kirk Herbstreit (analyst) and Maria Taylor (sideline). FYI, Herbstreit has been recognized with an Emmy as Sport Television’s Most Outstanding Analyst. To this point, ABC Saturday Night Football has not yet selected a Trojans’ game to be televised.

Broadcast teams – Part 2: ESPN’s Saturday Primetime Game broadcasting team will include Sean McDonough (play-by-play), Todd Blackledge (analyst), and Holly Rowe (sideline). Maybe it’s me, but I find McDonough as boring as watching two turtles being timed in the 40.

Broadcast teams – Part 3: ESPN announced other college football broadcast teams, which include Dave Pasch (play-by- play), Greg McElroy (analyst), and Tom Luginbill (sideline); Bob Wischusen (play-by- play), Brock Huard (analyst), and Allison Williams (sideline); and Beth Mowins (play-by- play), Anthony Becht (analyst), and Rocky Boiman (sideline). I do like the team of Wischusen and Huard. They are prepared and articulate the excitement and analysis of a game.

Broadcast team – Part 4: The Trojans’ will host Washington State on Friday night, Sept. 21, and the game will be nationally televised on ESPN. The broadcast team figure to be either Jason Benetti (play-by-play), Belly Stouffer (analyst), and Olivia Harlan (sideline) or Clay Matvick (play-by-play), Dan Orlovsky (analyst), and Paul Caraterra (sideline). Raise your hand if you’ve heard of either of these broadcast teams.

Broadcast teams – Part 5: According to ESPN, fans tuning into ESPN’s networks this season will see commentators with new broadcasting partners. Play-by-play commentator Adam Amin will team up with analysts Rod Gilmore and Quint Kessenich while play-by-play commentator Mark Jones will work with analyst Dusty Dvoracek and reporter Molly McGrath. Last season, Amin worked with Dvoracek and McGrath whiles Jones teamed with Gilmore and Kessenich.  Both commentating groups will work on ESPN/ABC Saturday games this season. Sounds like the Major League Baseball trade deadline.

The post-game show…

In memory: Willie Brown, the first I-formation tailback and later an exemplary flanker under legendary Trojans’ head football coach John McKay, passed away this week at 76-years-old. The former Long Beach Poly High great will be remembered here for a brilliant leaping catch in the final quarter of the 1962 USC/UCLA struggle that kept a critical drive alive and helped preserve a 14-3 Trojans’ victory. Nobody was more cardinal and gold than No. 26 who was later a Trojans’ assistant football and baseball coach and athletic department employee.

The name game: The College Football Playoff National Championship Game will be played in Los Angeles in 2023. If the Trojans do reach the title game, they’ll be playing in a stadium that is being called “Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park”, according to the recently released magazine 2018 CFP Year in Review.

The trophy: If you’d like to see the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship trophy, it will be on display Friday night, Sept. 29, when the Trojans host Washington State.  

Rule changes: In 2017, the rules committee declared that beginning this season, the legal uniform will include knee pads in the pants with the knee pads and pants completely covering the knees. Officials are mandated to enforce this rule strictly by not allowing players to be in the game with pants that do not completely cover the knees. Uncovered knees indicate illegal equipment: players must leave the game for at least one down, and they may not return until the equipment is legal.

Rule changes – Part 2: This season, the rules have changed to shorten the time between the touchdown and the extra point, and between the kickoff return and the first play from scrimmage. In both cases, the 40-second play clock will start as soon as the ball is dead. Instead of pausing for one minute between the touchdown and the extra point, the 40-second play clock will begin counting down as soon as the touchdown is scored. Similarly, when the ball becomes dead after the kickoff the 40-second play clock will start. This should have a significant impact on the amount of time it takes to manage a touchdown and the ensuing kickoff.

Rule changes – Part 3: For many years, the rules have allowed the umpire to wear a small TV camera (no audio) on his or her cap. Based on experiments during one of the bowl games, this season the rule has been expanded to allow any official to wear such a cap-cam, subject to the approval of the two teams and the official’s conference.

The honor: Trojans’ offensive lineman Jordan Austin has been nominated for the 2018 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, which recognizes student-athletes who not only demonstrate a unique dedication to community service and desire to make a positive impact on the lives around them, but they also show tremendous perseverance as well as the ability to overcome personal struggles and come out victorious against all odds. The final roster of 22 award recipients and honorary head coach will be unveiled in September.

The last word: This week’s Sunday Coliseum renovation real time photo update: https://app.oxblue.com/open/usc/lacoliseumrenovation 



Greg Katz
Greg Katz

Now entering his 59th season of either writing, broadcasting, or just plain watching USC football, WeAreSC columnist Greg Katz began his affiliation with the website back in 2001, introducing his well-received O/NSO (The Obvious/The Not So Obvious) column and later adding his respected IMHO Sunday opinion and tidbits column. Greg, a former ESPN.com college football columnist covering USC, is also a member of the Football Writer's Association of America. He is also known in Southern California as a professional public address announcer, having called the the 1996 Rose Bowl Game between USC and Northwestern. Greg also holds a master's degree in athletic administration and was a former varsity high school coach of 27 years.

More Articles By Greg