By Greg Katz – WeAreSC.com
In my humble opinion, cardinal and gold thoughts on what I see, what I hear, and what I think.
Philosophy 100: USC Trojans head coach Clay Helton says he will name a quarterback – junior Max Browne or redshirt freshman Sam Darnold (photos above: No. 4 Browne, No. 14 Darnold) – at least two weeks prior to the season opener against Alabama and would prefer to go with one quarterback for the balance of the season. The prevailing feeling here is that Max Browne will eventually be given the nod.
Philosophy 101: On the other hand, Stanford head coach David Shaw says he has no problem going with two quarterbacks – senior Ryan Burns and junior Keller Chryst. Shaw said at Pac-12 Media Days, “If we don’t have a starter at the end training camp, I have no problem playing both guys, we’ll play both guys at the beginning of the year, and let’s see who’ll play best under the lights.”
Philosophy final: So which quarterback philosophy is the best one? Well, we might find out quickly when the Trojans play at Stanford on Sept. 17.
All-Star team: FYI, the University of Alabama football team had league-high 13 players selected to the 2016 Southeastern Conference Media Days preseason All-SEC teams.
All-Star team – Part 2: The first-team selections expected to play against the Trojans on Sept. 3 include TE O.J. Howard, WR Calvin Ridley, OT Cam Robinson, DE Jonathan Allen, LB Reuben Foster, S Eddie Jackson, and P J.K. Scott. Allen was the leading vote getter among all SEC defenders with Ridley and Robinson receiving the third-and fourth-most votes, respectively, among all players.
The name game: When John McKay was the Trojans legendary head coach, the offense was listed in the media guide as the “I-formation.” In the 2016 media guide, Clay Helton is the Trojans head coach, and the offense is listed in the media guide as “Multiple.”
For the record: In the 2016 media guide, Clay Helton’s record as a Trojans head football coach is listed interim and permanent as 6-4 (two years).
Gone but not forgotten: If the Trojans are to be successful, successful placekicking and punting will be mandatory. During spring practice, both special team positions flew under the radar, but both positions, which will be inexperienced, will quickly be drawn to attention during August training camp. And how about the inexperience of a placekicker and punter in the first game against defending national champion Alabama on ABC primetime?
High tech: “USC Gameday” is the official app for following Trojans sports. The app for iOS and Android devices is available now for download on ITunes and Google Play. I just downloaded it and it looks to be very informative.
High tech – Part 2: “USC Gameday” gives customized individual sport selection, countdown to the games, schedules and scores, and helpful information as it also pertains to traffic and tailgating alerts. Other perks of the site include information on parking, restaurants, ticket info, videos and photos. For football, the app also provides rosters, bio information, stats, historical information, and exclusive videos.
From the press box…
Recruiting wars: Talented Los Angeles Cathedral High defensive end Hunter Echols (6-4, 220) has decommitted from UCLA, and the Trojans are reportedly now on his radar.
Recruiting wars – Part 2: Regarding the Trojans, Hunter Echols told Scout’s Greg Biggins, “With USC, it’s not just the DL coach, Kenechi Udeze, I talk with Coach Nansen and Coach Helton a lot too. Coach Helton is one of the few head coaches who has reached out and we don’t even talk about football all the time. He asks me about my grades and how I’m doing in school, as well as asking about my family and that means a lot.”
Rankings domination: Although Trojans football has had its ups and down since NCAA sanctions were passed down, it’s worthy to note that the Men of Troy have still been ranked in the AP Top 25 for 144 of their past 183 games.
Television domination: The Trojans have appeared on live national, regional, or local telecasts 478 times, including 344 of the past 346 games.
Television domination – Part 2: The Trojans last 185 games have been televised live, a school record.
A reminder: The way the Pac-12 schedule shakes down each season, the Trojans miss two conference opponents. This season, the Trojans will not play Oregon State and Washington State. The Trojans have had some tough times playing in Corvallis, and the Cougars under head coach Mike Leach are no longer pushovers.
Looking ahead: If you’re excited to see the Trojans play a storied program in Alabama, you should be reminded that the Cardinal and Gold will play a home game against Texas in 2017 and play the Longhorns in Austin in 2018.
Target practice: Under a new NCAA targeting rule using replay, a player can be penalized without an official on the field throwing a flag on the field. An official in the press box can still make a targeting call. Targeting means a tackler leading with his helmet or head-to-head contact with a ball carrier.
The post-game show…
It’s a rap: Have you heard about the new Michigan-themed rap song, “Who has it better than us?” sung by Bailey and supported by Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh? After watching it, I just can’t see Trojans head coach Clay Helton doing a USC football rap video anytime soon. Then again…
It’s a rap – Part 2: If Clay Helton does or doesn’t want to do a rap video, the Trojans will certainly have other resources to do so, or have you already forgotten Snoop Dogg?
Memories: So how many Trojans fans still wish the football team would return to UC Irvine for the first couple of weeks of training camp? How about a majority of Trojans fans living in Orange County.
Decisions, decisions: Given your choice of weakness, would you rather the Trojans have a strong defensive line and a questionable secondary or a questionable defensive line and a strong secondary? For me, I’ll take a strong defensive line that can control the run game and apply pressure to a passing game.
It’s a coin flip: Every head coach has his own philosophy when it comes to decision- making after winning a coin flip – kickoff, receive, or defer? You might be interested to know that the Trojans either by their own choice or their opponents received the opening kickoff in the first 6 games in 2015 and 9 times overall.
Political trivia: What does former Trojans All-America offensive guard and lone Lombardi Award winner Brad Budde have in common with Democratic vice-presidential candidate Tim Kaine? Both were in the Kansas City Rockhurst Jesuit High graduating Class of 1976. While Budde went on to fame and glory as a USC football legend, Kaine went to the University of Missouri and received his degree in economics.
Political trivia – Part 2: Ironically, in the season-opener in 1976, Brad Budde started as a true freshman against the University of Missouri in the Coliseum in John Robinson’s first game as a Trojans head football coach, having succeeded John McKay. FYI, the Tigers upset the Trojans, 46-25, that Sept. 11th evening, as Budde was the first USC freshman to start an opener since World War ll.
The last word: At this past week’s Republican Party delegate roll call, Alabama was up first, and the Alabama representative opened up immediately by first praising his state as home of the college football national champion Alabama Crimson Tide and out came chants of “Roll Tide!” Will Clay Helton use this political video to further inspire his team? Hey, whatever it takes.