11 min Read

WeAreSC Mailbag (11-16)

Trojan Trev
Hi Gary- With the Trojans and bRuins renewing their cross-town rivalry this week, what is your favorite/moment game from this series? As an out of state transplant, mine would be the 2004 game with Jason Leach’s interception that sealed the game and sent the Trojans off to the Orange Bowl to demolish Oklahoma. I was there with may dad and it was great to be a part of that and on the bRuins home turf.

The 27-0 shutout in 2001. It was the first year under Pete Carroll, who was 5-5 at that point, and there were no expectations of putting that kind of beating on them. It was also the first time in that rivalry that I had ever seen one side basically give up in the second half, thorough domination, and a precursor of what was to come under Carroll

Hi Garry, Could you provide us an injury update for the following guys: 1.) Nathan Smith, 2.) Jonathan Lockett, 3.) Isaiah Pola-Mao. Will any of them be able to practice this year or at least be ready for Spring ball?

There aren’t any signs of them practicing this year but maybe we get to see them do some work in the bowl practices or spring. We really don’t have any other details right now because Helton hasn’t addressed them lately. Smith is the one I’m anxious to see, he’s really bulked up in the last year and he appears physically ready to go.

Since U of T has fired their HC, has their been any rumors among the coaching staff that Tee Martin might jump ship? If so, has there been any names to replace him at OC?

The rumors are definitely out there, and Tee gave the politically correct answers yesterday about being focused on UCLA and not having had any contact with anyone at Tennessee. It will be interesting to see how much of a legit candidate he ends up being, I think it’s makes a lot of sense for him to be considered, but they are also tossing out names like Jon Gruden and Chip Kelly at this point, and it would have to be a surprise for them to get either of those guys.

Garry, Coach Helton has gone on record praising Tee Martin for how he puts together USC’s game plan for the offense. That doesn’t sound like a coach who shares his play calling duties with anyone. Unless someone can produce an official statement that Tee and Tyson are Co-Offensive coordinators under Coach Helton and that both share play calling duties during the game then I think this rumor should stop. We’re not on the headsets but I don’t recall ever seeing anyone in Tee’s ear when he’s in the booth coordinating the offense, either. I just see Tee and I believe he’s calling all the plays in the capacity of Offensive Coordinator as per the description of his salaried position. What say you? Heresay or fact?

Has Clay Helton put out an official statement saying that multiple people have been involved in sharing play calling duties? No he has not. Do I believe that has been the case at times based upon the people I’ve heard it from? Yes I do.

Helen of Troy


Garry, forgive me I don’t follow recruiting too closely during the regular season – I’m usually too wrapped up in the week to week stuff. Overall, how is the class of 2018 shaping up? I know that rumblings in early 2017 were that the Trojans were expected to finish with a consensus Top-3 class, and push for #1 overall. Is that still the case? I know most of the big fish are still on the board, so I’m not too caught up on the number of commitments so far…

To me the most interesting thing has been the lack of movement in recent months. The Trojans last commit came in June, and the only real movement since then came this week when TE Camren McDonald de-committed. There are 10 commits right now and the Trojans are hovering around the #30 ranking so there is a lot of work to go before a top 3 class is a possibility, but the good news is that we should see a ton of movement with the two signing days coming up (mid-December, early Feb). The early signing period is a new thing so we really don’t know how it will impact things but Helton and staff have shown a very good ability to close strong in the last two years so I expect more of the same this year.

Gary, with USC in need for corners, and the fact they are trending towards 6’1″ and taller corners, how come no one has mentioned tyric lebeauf, the 6’3″ corner frokm long beach poly. Why not offer him and the safety prospect who transferred from hawkins a package deal.

I like Tyric, he’s the first player that jumped out to me when we went to Poly spring ball earlier this year. As you say, a tall corner with good athleticism is a desired commodity these days in the college football world, and Arizona and Colorado are conference schools that have offered. As for the Trojans, they are still on the short list for another tall corner in Isaac Taylor-Stuart, and he’s worth waiting for. I think Lebeauf is one of those guys who could see interest rise after the early signing period when some spots are filled, and some are still open.

Garry, what’s up with Daniel I.? He’s played in a couple of games but has shown up on the score sheet more for penalties than anything else. Is he just out of synch from having to spend most of the year in rehab or is he still hurting in some way that is affecting his play? He looked so great last year that its a shame to see him play the way he’s playing right now.

He’s been out of action basically since June so I think he’s still working his way back. I do think his blocking has been good (he’s our best blocking tight end). Here was a comment after the Wednesday practice from Helton talking about his impact “You don’t see the numbers yet but his presence there, I think, helps because of his vertical presence, especially the speed he has down the field. Somebody has to cover him, and the safety ends up capturing him, and now it’s freeing up somebody else. So, to have him back has been a blessing.”

Focusing on senior day, do you believe U. Nwuso has been getting the credit he deserves for his career at USC? He made a big play in the Rose Bowl with a 3rd down tackle against Barkley in the final minutes to kill Penn State’s drive and has been masterful as a pass rusher this season. Not bad for a player who was offered a scholarship at the last minute.

I agree with everything you say about his play and I do think he’s getting credit for the way he’s playing this season, and for the impressive growth he’s made in his career. There is even some talk right now that he may inch his way into the first-round of the draft, or at the very least be a high draft pick. One point I always make about Uchenna is that when he was off the team in spring after his freshman year, there weren’t too many people who would have noticed if he didn’t come back in the fall (think Rashead Johnson, who was also gone that spring but didn’t come back). So I give a lot of credit to Uchenna for doing what he had to do in order to make it back and for developing as a player, and a respected team captain.

Burak Uslu
I love the intensity of the Tuesday practice. I am a little concerned about Matt Fink injury. Do Helton go back to Jaleen Green or burn the red shirt of Jack Sears, in case we need a sub?

Helton said today that he thinks Fink should be good to go but if that isn’t the case I think we would see Greene if need be.

How much fun are you and JJ going to have with the Trojan Club of San Diego on Thursday?

Looking forward to it as always!

A guy who came in this past spring, and looked like he might make an impact, was Tayler Katoa. How has his rehab been going? Which linebacker position seems to be his possible fit?

Katoa has certainly bulked up and he’s been doing more running on the side lately during practices. He was working at WLB behind Houston before getting hurt and I haven’t heard of any plans for that to change.

rose green
Perplexed: What happened to Stephen Carr? is he hurt again? He adds a special dimension, a “Reggie Bush” big play quality that can open up a defense like a can of sardines. Why sit him on the bench?

It didn’t sound like he was 100% ready last week, but he sure looked good this week and Helton said he is basically back. It’s hard right now to know how many touches he will get with RoJo running so well, don’t be surprised if Stephen gets most of his work as a pass catcher this week.

Hi Gary, How is Gustin doing, and what about Rector? I think it’s critically that out best pass rushers could play vs UCLA

Rector will play, he played last week with a club on his injured hand, but it doesn’t look like Gustin will play. Iosefa will also see time at that spot.

Hi Garry, do you have any information about future recruits that are visiting this weekend? Thanks.

So far the officials are names like verbal commits RB Mychale Salahuddin (Woodson, D.C) and LB Kana’I Mauaga (Waianae, HI) and prospects OL Penei Sewell (Desert Hills, UT), CB Noah Boykin (Woodson, D.C., same school as Salahuddin), DT Trevor Trout (Chaminade, MO), DT Michael Thompson (Parkway North, MO) and the possibility of ATH Talanao Hufanga (Crescent Valley, OR) moving his visit from 12/15 to this weekend now that his team is out of the playoffs.

I noticed some posts get overlooked regularly. Just wondered if there is a preferred approach or people that you prefer? Or, is it too much on your plate and you do the best with the time you’ve got?

No rhyme or reason. The mailbag usually averages 15 responses each week, and most weeks there are more questions than that (around 30 this week) so there are questions each week that don’t get answered.

Garry, I’ll be home next week for Thanksgiving and I’m planning to visit the campus on Monday. Do you know if there will be any practices next week? Thanks

No practices scheduled next week.

Garry, Do you believe that Jim Mora Jr. (sportsman that he is) will accommodate opportunities for Jake Olson to enter the game on Saturday?

This is the USC vs UCLA game, and as much as I love Jake I would be surprised if Helton approached Mora ahead of time about the possibility.


Garry, How much value do you put into the comment made by Ronald Jones yesterday? The one that mentioned another year at USC. Should we start the celebration or hold our breath? Is there any way one of the guys could ask him this week?

His comment was definitely noticeable but I would hold the breath right now, I doubt RoJo meant for that to be an announcement that he is coming back. The next opportunity for RoJo to be interviewed by the media is after the UCLA game on Saturday, and I’m sure he will be asked if that’s the last time he played in the Coliseum.

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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