12 min Read

WeAreSC Mailbag (9-6)


I watched the UNLV game again and a few things stood out for me.
1. Cam Smith was very active around the line of scrimmage especially in pursuit sideline to sideline.
2. The Dline rotation lead to a sack by Tufele and pressure at times.
How does USC contain both Bryce Love and KJ Costello?

I hope all Trojan fans appreciate Cam Smith, this is some high level linebacker play we’re watching with him. He talked yesterday after practice about how Stanford has become more multi-dimensional because of the play of Costello. The fact that KJ was able to throw for over 300 last week in a game where Love was effectively slowed by SDSU makes them that much tougher to defend, especially with so much height at receiver and tight end. I think the key for the Trojans is going to be the point of attack with the defensive line and we’ve got the bodies to do it, especially if Pili is healthy with that wrist injury.

Helen of Troy


Are we going to win? 🙂


Burak Uslu

Hi Garry,

I took lots of positive from game 1. The game plan obviously used this game as a training opportunity. Pretty much everyone got to touch the ball. Great day!

I am really impressed with JT Daniels quick release. The first slant to Trevon Sidney was perfect. I can’t ask for more. Which leads me to two questions:
1- For some reason, Daniels to Vaughns connection was not immediate. I have seen similar issues in the past. When Matt Leinart was off, Norm Chow used to simplify the game plan for a bit until the QB and receivers got on the same page. Why did it take until the second half for Tee to adjust the game plan? On a second note, I was very happy with Daniels that had no problem going back to Pittman and Vaughns time after time, even with drops.

2- This question leads me to question 2, Daniel seemed to lock on the first receiver and stare them down a little too much. You don’t see him look away from the receivers. Can the coaches teach him not to? It is not a big problem when we hurry up and use his quick release, but I am concerned with some deep balls. What is your take? I know Darrell Rideaux mentioned that on the podcast as well.

To answer part 1, I was also puzzled by the issues with Vaughns (and Pittman to a lesser extent) because those two are normally so reliable. For now I’m going to chalk it up as one of those days and I would be surprised if it happens again anytime soon. In terms of question 2 with JT “locking in” it’s important to note that UNLV was in man coverage a lot, and in those cases it doesn’t really matter as much if the QB is locked in because the defender is usually focused on covering his man. It’s in zone coverage where locking in can be the bigger issue if a safety or other defender is reading the QB’s eyes and can get a jump on the ball. It’s one of the small things that JT is so advanced in for a true freshman.


Do you think stanford (and other opponents) will start to double the true freshman St. Brown? If so, how do you think SC will counter?

That would be a lot of respect shown to a true freshman and if they do I would simply go more to Vaughns and/or Pittman. As noted above, those guys are too good to think they won’t bounce back strong from the first week. I also wouldn’t mind seeing us throw to the backs out of the backfield more, something I’m guessing the coaches held back on in the opener.



On Defense, it seems like we will want to stack the box to stop their power running game and make Costello throw the ball. I feel pretty good about the outcome if we can do that. I think our secondary will hold up much better than SDSU’s did in the second half of their game. Would you agree?

I think the match-up of the SC run defense against Stanford run game is going to be critical especially since both of those units somewhat struggled in their openers. I’m a big fan of the rotation we can throw out there and this will be the first big test to see how they can stand up. I’m a little concerned about Costello getting hot with some of his talented receiver options, huge test for the SC secondary.


Garry, do you think Shaw comes after JT, blitzing & can JT make them pay ? Does SC even use screens?

JT is a guy who hasn’t seen a ton of pressure even going back to his Mater Dei days but from what I’ve seen he moves around in the pocket real well. Note how he often moves side to side in the pocket rather than always up or back, that’s the mark of a veteran quarterback, not always something you see from a freshman. As is so often the case though, it comes down to the o-line and how well they can slow the Stanford front without an all-out assault on JT. I’ve got a feeling the screen pass will be seen in this game, no need to have shown it against UNLV.


If stanford stacks the box to stop the run.
Will you remind the coaches that the te will be open on play action seam routes?

This is the kind of game I wish we had Daniel Imatorbhebhe and Josh Falo available. I certainly think Tyler Petite can make some plays as a pass catcher but the other two offer more of a downfield threat.


Helton has played against Shaw several years now, you think they have a good idea what Stanford is going to bring?

Yes, and they have a good idea what we’re going to bring. This is a classic chess match game between two staffs who know each other so well.


If SC beats Stanford, do you think the AP will drop our ranking even lower?

Yeah, not a lot of respect shown for the Trojans with that move.


The one thing I noticed was how off the placement and timing was between Daniels and his WRs (minus ARSB). Should I consider this issue a result of no clear #1 at QB over the spring/summer, and this will work itself out? And how long would you guess and assume it would take for some of those mishaps to be ironed out?

The lack of full-time reps in fall camp is as much of a possibility as anything but that only goes so far. I would be surprised if the issue carries over into this game, too much pride in players like Vaughns and Pittman, and JT as well.


Hey Garry,
How come nobody asks Clay about being more physical in Practice? He always talks about it. But it just doesn’t seem to be happening. Being physical and playing at game speed is something that needs to happen.

He gets asked about it and, as you note, he will say the practices or certain drills are an example of being physical. I think plenty of USC fans would want to see a different definition based on Trojan teams of the past but I wouldn’t expect major changes anytime soon.


GP….Did Ben Griffiths, the Australian punter, show up to play football at USC?

No. The latest rumor is that he has some classes that need to be taken before he can arrive in spring but the school can’t comment on him right now so we don’t really know for sure.


Budrovich’s punting was appalling against UNLY (note that I tried to use a word that was even stronger than atrocious). Do you think he is punting for his job vs. Tilbey in practice this week, or do you think he will get one more game to try to snap out of it? How do you think the punting scenario unfolds?

That was surprising to see from Budrovich, kind of like Vaughns and Pittman. I wouldn’t say he’s kicking for his job but it’s also something that surprised the coaches, and it’s not something that is going to be ignored if it continues. We saw Tilbey get plenty of punts this week in practice and I would have no problem if we needed to go to Chris (I thought he did a solid job in his year as the punter) but I would also be surprised if the issues continue with Reid.


How did the Colosseum look during a game? Any redeeming qualities compared to the pre-monstrosity tower?

To answer the first part, it’s hard to comment on the look without focusing on the tower simply because it dominates so much of what you see. However, I do like the vast majority of what’s going on outside of the tower. The new seats that are in look nice and were overdue, and I think the hand rails are a very good thing. The cupholders were in place and were needed as well. The tunnels leading to the seats below the tower (which will eventually be in place throughout the stadium) are wider and well lit. And I will like the view of the Peristyle once the temporary Audi suites are gone for the 2019 season. Outside the stadium, however, it’s a shame to see what’s being done to tailgating for the average fan, so much of the area is being set aside now for corporate/donor parties and paid-for tailgating, and at least for the UNLV game it was lightly used.


Garry, It appears that when Fink (and hopefully Sears) get action at the end of a won game, they are only allowed to hand-off to the running back. Shouldn’t they be allowed to exercise the whole pass/run offense to keep ball possession in the last minutes? I don’t advocate having them throw long passes in deference to running up the score , but just running the ball doesn’t give them any real game experience which will be needed if JT goes down. I also advocate giving the backup QB more time at the end of a game that we have in hand – even the whole last quarter.

It’s always a tough balancing act. Yes, it’s nice to be up big enough to allow the back-ups to go in there and play, as they’ve worked hard in practice too and deserve a shot to do more than just handoff. But, as you say, if you’re up big there is the thought to run the ball and get the game over with while showing respect for the opponent to not “run up” the score. I’m in favor of letting them play, getting a chance to see the reserves that we don’t usually see is something I’m in favor of.


Garry what’s your take on the Bolden situation?

Nothing official has been reported and lots of rumors swirling around. Sounds like it was nothing physical, all verbal, and maybe alcohol involved (but c’mon it’s college there’s booze involved all the time). For a couple days it seemed as if he’d get a short suspension but now there are reports of a 2 year (yes year, not game) suspension. Do you really think they’d give him a 2 year suspension based on what you know/heard? Seems a bit harsh for something that can a learning lesson for him and the rest of the team.

The possibility of a two-year suspension does seem pretty out there. When he was suspended for the opener I was told “it could be a lot longer” but no time frame was given. The details that we know so far are being taken seriously and it certainly wasn’t Bubba’s finest moment but I don’t know if we know everything that is involved. One thing we do know is that when it comes to USC student conduct violations we rarely hear any details while the case is being reviewed.


Why do you think Stanford was able to build a whole stadium in nine months and we can’t add luxury boxes in two years?

Great question. I know one of the complaints we’ve heard in private from athletic department folks is the delays that can come with the historical landmark status, and how different politicians are able to want to add their two cents to the process, which usually causes additional slowdowns.


Originally CH said that Amon was going to handle punt returns. We saw glimpses of Tyler in the second half and he looked great. Does Amon still get the start and are they going to split the duties. Also, did Tyler spend the off season fielding punts? If not, was there a reason we did not use his skills last year. He looked really good on Saturday!
Fight On!

Tyler was always in the mix during camp and by the end of camp it was basically Amon-Ra, Ajene and Tyler as the final three. I agree with you in that I thought he looked real good and I would have no problem if he gets more opportunities, but I also think Amon-Ra is pretty good too. No idea at this point how the coaches plan to use the two of them moving forward but they are a couple pretty good options.


Garry… how close are Falo and Daniel I. to getting back on the field and contributing? We need at least one of them out there to throw a different look at the defense.

Helton said this week that Josh is “getting close” but offered no timetable, and we didn’t see him practice in any drills. No word on Daniel at all.

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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