USC vs. Notre Dame: Zero

#9 Notre Dame vs. USC
October 12, 2019 at 4:42pm
Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, IN: 77,622 (of 77,622)
Total Time: 3 hours 16 minutes

ZERO road wins. This Helton guy is almost like clockwork when it comes to the home-away dichotomy. But at least there were also zero turnovers! The referees almost errantly gifted one to Notre Dame by pointing in the wrong direction, but that doesn’t count.

Weird (read as “bad”) officiating led to some strange outcomes, like ND head coach Brian Kelly running 3 or 4 yards onto the field in his natural yelling form during the onside kick without any sort of penalty. He was still there after the play had started. Remember when Talanoa Hufanga jumped in celebration and landed onto the field after a play was over and was penalized? Seems fair.

Notre Dame Stadium also can’t seem to escape goal line controversies. After the officials decided to grant USC an extra down due to their own error, a running back was pushed into the endzone. Much like a mid-October South Bend game in 2005, the officials had to give USC an extra play after realizing Matt Leinart actually fumbled out-of-bounds. The following play was the famous (or infamous) Bush Push. Bush Push, meet the Stepp Step.

 

There was also talk of a bad roughing the passer call and some missed PIs. Yup, all that sucks, but it would have been a bigger deal if anyone still cared about Helton being able to do something with this season and his career at USC. The Trojans scored 8x as many points in the second half than in the first half. By golly, those Trojans will get them all in the third half.

Good/Badisms

GOOD: Slovis recovering from his poor BYU performance and showing better decision-making even against drop eight coverages.

GOOD: Perfect throw and catch from Slovis to Amon-Ra St. Brown to give USC its first touchdown of the game. And again when Slovis was hit as he threw to St. Brown late in the fourth quarter to set up a score.

GOOD: Tyler Vaughns making some tough catches to keep the first downs rolling.

GOOD: Markese Stepp racked up plenty of yards after contact and should probably be getting extra playtime/carries. On one play, he ran for an impressive 19 yards, 15 of which had half the Notre Dame team trying to tackle him.

BAD: Speaking of failed tackling, USC still had too many defenders sliding off Notre Dame players after making contact.

BAD: The bad tackling and failure to set the edge allow Notre Dame to amass a total of 308 yards rushing.

BAD: Other than field goals, the team continues to disappoint on special teams. The punts went a little further this time, but too many were sailing into the endzone.

GOOD(ish): Only 2 penalties for 20 yards, which includes the ridiculous 15-yard roughing the passer penalty. ND had declined several penalties, though, which isn’t reflected in that stat line. Still, impressive for the Trojans to get through a game—especially a sold out away game—without a false start penalty.

GOOD/BAD: There was some great cornerback play at times, but in the end, too many of them got injured to provide consistent coverage.

CommBro Breaker

Halfway through the season, Helton sits at a perfect 3-3. Three home wins, three road losses. Does he realize that he shouldn’t be shooting for Thanos level goals?

A decent coach with this roster would likely be 5-1 or 6-0 and bowl eligible already, but 4-2 at worst. At that point, their only decent chance at losing is against Oregon. For Helton, I’m predicting losses against Oregon and ASU, with rough games against Colorado and Cal to limp to my originally predicted 8-5 ending.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #1: Slovis has lost 27-30 after throwing two touchdown passes on the road against a non-conference team twice this season. Games are fixed!!

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #2: USC ranks 90th in red zone conversion rate (78.26%) compared to #1 Notre Dame’s 100%. Even more disappointing is USC’s touchdown percentage of 56.52% (for reference, ND has 85.36%). That means they score a touchdown about half the time they’re at 20 or less yards to go.

Uplifting Stat of the Week: Kedon Slovis still ranks 4th in the nation in completion percentage (75%)…still above Alabama’s Tua Tagovailova.

USC vs. UW: Types of Headaches

#17 Washington vs. #21 USC
September 29, 2019 at 12:40pm
Husky Stadium, Seattle, WA: 66,975 (70,183)
Total Time: 3 hours 14 minutes

Clay Helton has proven his abilities yet again. USC plummets out of the rankings and down several statistical categories in yet another road loss. As predicted last week, Washington’s defensive backs took advantage of risky passes from Fink and turned it into three interceptions. The Huskies opted for a similar defensive strategy as BYU, with a plethora of drop eight. Like two weeks ago, the team was unprepared and had few answers as they fell behind by as much as three touchdowns. Despite receiving several breaks throughout the game, they failed to produce a competitive result.

Although USC’s 212 rush yards appear to illustrate a strong run game, nearly half of those yards were the result of two runs—neither of which ended in scoring drives. One of those drives ended in an interception and the other with a failed fourth down attempt. With Helton’s level of preparation, all the upcoming bye week will really do is give time for injured players to heal.

The postgame press conference and subsequent statements to the press on Sunday and Monday demonstrated Helton’s cookie cutter responses about “eliminating mistakes” and just how close they were to doing something special. You’ve been here three and a half years, dude. How can he keep saying the same things year and year and loss after loss? If he hasn’t fixed it now, he won’t be able to fix it anytime soon.

Good/Badisms

GOOD: Fink’s deep pass to Michael Pittman

BAD LUCK?: A lucky bounce for Washington as they scored off their own fumble in the end zone

BAD: This one is on the Pac-12 officials. Talanoa Hufanga’s celebration penalty was a result of him starting a side bump celebration from the sidelines, with the jump landing him just barely onto the field. Was something that barely qualifies as a violation really egregious enough for 15 yards?

BAD: 163 passing yards.

CommBro Breaker

It’s getting difficult to generate content. Such uninspired games beget uninspired posts. As one of my instructors used to say, at least mess up on something new—then at least we know you’re working on it. Helton-coached teams continue to display the same issues without much sign of improvement. I can only make so many new jokes out of the same material.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #1: For yet another away game, the attendance is higher than any home game at the Coliseum since 2017 despite having larger stadiums than most of them.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #2: As touched upon earlier, USC has abysmal stats in the turnover category. Almost everything ranks below 120. Overall margin is at 124 (-7), average margin per game is 121 (-1.4/game), and total lost is three away from the bottom at 127 of 130 (13 lost).

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #3: USC is rank 110 in average opponent kickoff returns (24.42 yards).

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #4-6: Rankings for Opponent Long Scrimmage Plays:

  • #106 in 10+ yards (74)
  • #92 in 30+ yards (11)
  • #108 (of 108) in 80+ yards (1)

That means 107 teams have not allowed a play longer than 80 or more yards on defense and the Trojans are not among them. USC is in league with teams like Charlotte, Louisiana-Monroe, Troy, UMass, and Western Kentucky for that distinction.

Uplifting Stats of the Week: While lots of statistical categories suck, here are a few that don’t:

  • #23 in Sacks (13)
  • #24 in Passes Defended (25)
  • #14 in Passes Broken Up (23)
  • #1 in Field Goal Percentage (4 of 4)

Misleading Stat of the Week: As Helton claims, USC can still win out, get a Pac-12 championship and even a Rose Bowl/NY6 bowl berth. Even if he defied all odds and managed to do that, one can clearly tell he is underachieving by watching the games. It also won’t erase the memories of last season: the first losing season in 18 years and losses to both rivals. I guess it’s a stretch to call this a statistic though. Does that make me as misleading as Helton?

USC vs. Utah: Fink and Dunk

USC vs. #10 Utah
September 20, 2019 at 6:06pm
Los Angeles, CA: 55,719 (of 77,500)
Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes

Great news guys. This week, we got an exclusive interview with head coach Clay Helton. Please see below for the Q&A.

Helton, can you stop losing in time of possession?

Can you stop getting 10+ penalties in a game?

We continued to ask loaded questions and were met with the same responses until Tim Tessalone figured out we were only there for the buffet. I kid. One day, we may get some real press credentials. Until then, there are always memes…

The season began with starting quarterback, JT Daniels, getting injured in the first half. Two games later, Kedon Slovis gets injured in the first series and, just like that, USC is down to their third string quarterback. It’s comforting to know that the team has three viable quarterbacks, but it draws attention to the wealth of talent that has been wasted under head coach Clay Helton. Also, dropping down to the third string quarterback for the second time in two years is troubling. Interestingly enough, watching the backup’s backup wasn’t the low point of the game.

We were able to live about 10 peaceful minutes until first penalty—then the mouth of hell opened up into true Pac-12 night form, vomiting out 27 total penalties for 237 yards. Surprisingly, the game did not take four hours to be completed. Speaking of unnecessary penalties…

Reggie Bush made his first appearance back at the Coliseum and, as you can imagine, it caused some trouble. After Markese Stepp scored on a touchdown run, a Pac-12 official tried to physically impede Stepp from getting a high five from Bush. After the official failed to restrain a 235-pound individual in his prime, the official decided it was worth a 15-yard penalty. It’s a good thing we have the Pac-12 and NCAA to protect the weak hearts and minds of susceptible young players from the likes of celebratory gestures with former football players that most certainly “did not” attend or play at USC. Had Stepp gotten a handshake from the poor, out of place commentator Rob Stone, would the Pac-12 have given him a penalty for that?

If you ever feel out of place, think of Rob Stone on this night and be comforted

We can all see that vacating wins, championships, awards, and disassociation of players does jack squat. This farcical attempt at pretending Bush never played at USC leaves everyone in a weird spot. Why does one feel compelled to prevent a player from high fiving Random Fox Sports Analyst #2? Bush wasn’t the only analyst drawing interest though. Who could forget Brady Quinn in that panel? Just kidding. Hope he continues to enjoy to hanging out with Bush and Leinart on set every day. Anyway, former Ohio State head coach, Urban Meyer, also drew some chants from the crowd.

Whether or not you like him as a person, few can deny that Urban Meyer is a good coach. However, could someone like him really end up as USC head coach? According to our top sports superstition experts here in the City of Angles lab, yes, he will be. Remember that 2014 Ohio State season when they won the national championship? Meyer went from QB Braxton Miller to Cardale Jones and eventually to JT Barrett. He used his third string quarterback to beat Alabama in a playoff game. Since we also have three decent quarterbacks and will be opening against Alabama next season, Urban confirmed. Dream on.

In reality, we still have Clay Helton until he is officially removed from his position. Who the heck calls a timeout right after a change in possession? The clock gets stopped for that anyway. He seems like the kind of person that tries to calls out sick when on a federal holiday. Helton, can you stop wasting timeouts?

I don’t even need a caption anymore

GOOD/BADISMS

GOOD: A blocked field goal after a penalty negated a blocked field goal.

BAD: Apparently, a wayward white board caused an injury.

GOOD: A goal line stand that was capped off by Isaiah Pola-Mao’s tackle for a loss. That tackle prevented Utah from taking the lead early in the fourth quarter.

BAD: The team did not make it into positive rush yards until the fourth quarter. Even then, it was a net of 28 after accounting for the kneels…less than 0.7 yards per carry.

GOOD: Always good to see a safety. It turned out to be a crucial play. True freshman Drake Jackson continues to be a difference maker on the defensive line.

BAD: The average starting field position was at their own 22-yard line. The best return was only to their own 34. With how things have been going, it’s really not worth returning with the ball security issues in mind. Their best is only 9 more yards than a touchback.

GOOD: Michael Pittman’s hard-earned 232 receiving yards.

BAD: A four minute, 8-play Utah drive following a USC fumble that featured five combined penalties

GOOD: The USC offense baited another team into an offsides penalty.

GOOD: Fink finishing with 21 of 30 (70%), 351 yards, and 3 TDs.

BAD: Not tackling in practice is still showing.

CommBro Breaker

While everyone might be praising the Fink and Dunk football, Fink’s style seems to rely an uncomfortable amount of receivers winning jumps to move the offense. I know I said dunk, but save the jump balls for basketball.

Furthermore, Utah was ranked too highly when USC played them—just like Stanford was. Utah also does not have the DB talent to defend against receivers like Pittman. This could be a problem at Washington, especially given that Helton does not get his team ready to play away. It may be a rough one with a few interceptions.

Ridiculous/Misleading Stat of the Week #1: USC got nearly 10 times more yards (120) from Utah penalties than they did rushing (13).

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #2: Speaking of rush yards…somehow, Stephen Carr finished the game with -16 rushing yards. That’s more yards lost than the QB kneeling three times at the end of the game (-15).

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #3: USC is 113th in the nation in penalty yards per game (72.3). 117th

Misleading Stat of the Week #2: 100% of USC’s conference opponents have been ranked. That’s only two out of two, but will become three out of three next week.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #4: The Trojans are 117th in the nation in turnover margin per game (-1.25), 118th in total turnover margin (-5), and 125th in total lost (10). #yikes

USC vs. BYU: Meme Stream

Brigham Young University vs. #24 USC
September 14, 2019 at 12:36pm
Provo, UT: 62,546 (of 63,470)
Total Time: 3 hours 49 minutes

I considered not even doing an analysis and replacing it with a literal stream of memes. However, I realized that wouldn’t be good. I wish people realized the same thing about Helton before he happened. Either way, I decided to include a few memes for this week:

If losses could talk, that’s what they would be saying to Clay Helton. He always has an excuse and some impossible optimism of just a few things that need to fixed to be on track. Well, then fix it. Or actually, don’t, because we hope he will be gone soon, so we can say:

Asking for a new coach used to go like this:

But with Swann gone, we can only hope that it’s going to be happening by the end of the season. Anyway, time for the game analysis.

It turns out that Stanford might finish with a bad record, so it settles that debate. Regardless, that doesn’t completely discount true freshman Kedon Slovis’ performance last week. He looked a little more human and freshmanned the game up a bit against BYU. Before overtime, Slovis was 24 of 33 (72.7%) with 2 TDs and 2 INTs. Still a decent performance for a freshman dealing with: his first road game; high elevation, a subpar offensive line; a subpar run game; and a subpar head coach. Although Helton indirectly blamed “turnovers” (meaning he was blaming a freshman QB, since all the turnovers were produced by him), I offer a different angle. There is no way a team with as much talent as USC should be putting all that pressure onto a freshman QB that was supposed to be a backupb to win a road game for them. He shouldn’t have the weight of the entire team on his shoulders.

Slovis’ stats still check out. He’s fifth in the nation in completion percentage (right above Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa). He just has to learn to read the zones better and not force passes. All things, we hope, he learns as he grows under a coach someday.

Meanwhile he continues to play under a coach that has produced:

BADISMS:

BAD: Illegal wedge penalty. Dude, Helton and Baxter should have left that in the Roosevelt era of football. Theodore Roosevelt. Seriously, many versions of it were banned in 1894…which was before Teddy, yeah, I get it. I just wanted to make a joke. Plus President Roosevelt was big on football reform in that time period, so it seemed like a relevant choice.

BAD: If you take out the three sacks, the BYU team rushed for 186 yards on 37 carries—an average of over 5 yards per carry.

BAD: Meanwhile, the USC running backs had trouble running against a three man defensive line. The offensive line, with five to six people, also had trouble protecting Slovis at times against that same three man rush.

BAD: A three man rush meant that eight dropped into coverage. The zones and number of defenders gave Slovis quite a bit of trouble. Of particular note were the linebackers making highly athletic plays for two of the interceptions.

BAD: In addition to three interceptions, there were three fumbles. Although none were lost, three leaves one feeling uneasy.

BAD: Slovis has locked onto receivers a few too many times, allowing zone defenders to read his eyes and clog up the passing lanes.

BAD: Not wrapping up tackles. Many defenders, sometimes two or three at a time, would hit the ball carrier for what would have been a loss or short gain, only to slide off and allow them 5+ yards after contact.

GOODISMS

GOOD: A career long 52-yard field goal for Chase McGrath that allowed the game to make it to overtime

GOOD: Michael Pittman grabbing some touchdowns in tight coverage.

GOOD: Erik Krommenhoek getting a career long of 60 yards on his second reception of the season. That already matches his two receptions per season during his USC career. Will he finally break two this season?!

CommBro Breaker

Utah has moved up to #10 and has to travel to a different time zone on a short week. They have tended to play down on the road as well. That gives this USC team a chance to win. Only four more wins to bowl eligibility—because that’s already a higher bar than last year. I still stand by my prediction of an 8-5 or 9-4 finish.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #1: More people attended this BYU-USC game than any USC game since 2017.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #2: USC ranks #113 in the nation in average punt distance (38.78 yards)

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #3: I have to sneak a positive one in here somehow. USC is #2 in the nation in passes broken up…right under #1 UCF that just destroyed Stanford 45-27 (38-7 at the half). Whoops, still found a negative.

Misleading Stat of the Week: We finally won the time of possession battle! Totally worth. No, actually it wasn’t.

USC vs. Stanford: A surprise to be sure, but a welcome one

USC vs. #23 Stanford
September 7, 2019 at 7:35pm
Los Angeles, CA: 62,109 (of 77,500)
Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes

We’re starting out with another meme of the week:

The absolute domination wasn’t the only surprise. Below is a picture of what showed on the screen at the end of the game. The scary thing is that was a the exact score of a previous USC-Fresno State game back in 2013.

Conspiracy. Games are rigged!

Before I bore you with another conspiracy theory, I’ll get back to what really matters.

In an enjoyably short game, USC displayed a level of dominance not seen for the past season or two. It began with a shaky start where the offense failed to score much and the defense allowed scores on Stanford’s first four drives—but then shut them out from there. They held Stanford without scoring for 38 minutes while simultaneously putting up 35 unanswered points for the victory.

To give you an idea of how rare this performance was, here are some stats:

  • Ranked for the first time since September 15, 2018.
  • Most points scored since November 4, 2017, when USC defeated Arizona 49-35
  • Largest margin of victory since October 28, 2017, when USC defeated Arizona State 48-17

Those are the backhanded compliments of stats though. Kedon Slovis produced some truly impressive numbers in his first career start. He completed 28 of 33 (84.8%) for 377 yards and 3 TDs. Which is the:

  • Most yards since since Cody Kessler threw for 410 against Idaho on September 12, 2015
  • Highest completion percentage (with at least 20 attempts) since Matt Barkley completed 95% of passes (19 of 20) against Colorado on October 20, 2012.

To put that into perspective, he was about four incompletions away from the NCAA record for completion percentage. Two of those incompletes were drops by a receiver. Something else you might notice is that the previous highs were against far inferior, unranked opponents. For Slovis to come in and put up numbers that big says a lot about both him and offensive coordinator, Graham Harrell.

Slovis made some suboptimal choices, but didn’t really make any outright mistakes in decisionmaking. That’s more than one should expect out of a true freshman in their first start. He didn’t crumble under pressure and even checks downfield for a throw before taking off to run. All-in-all, the way he handled the game appeared very unfreshmanlike.

Harrell also taught the offense some new tricks. Going from the last few seasons to now, we have seen the offense go from false starts and bad snaps being a staple to drawing multiple offsides penalties from the opposing defense. It’s a hell of an improvement.

GOOD/BADISMS

BEST: Slovis’ 39-yard deep pass that landed perfectly into Amon-Ra St. Brown’s arms despite a cornerback and safety in coverage.

GOOD: Tyler Vaughns redeemed himself by making some difficult catches after sitting out for a few dropped passes.

BAD: Allowing the Stanford offense to gain an uncomfortable number of yards on while the defense was in Cover 1.

GOOD: 8.1 yards per play for this game. For reference on how high that is, if they can maintain a similar average throughout the season, it would be the third highest average in the nation for the decade.

GOOD: Olaijah Griffin showed himself to be a great red zone defender. The true sophomore corner had some difficulties against Fresno St. with deep coverage, but has also redeemed himself

GOOD: Finally breaking 60,000 attendees at a home game since November 2017.

GOOD: Pulling off a seven play, 70 yard drive in the two minutes before the half.

GOOD: WiFi works actually well.

GOOD: The USC band throwing some shade at the Stanford band, saying that they traveled to 19 countries and have never been prohibited from playing at Disneyland.

BAD: Punt numbers aren’t as good as hoped

CommBro Breaker

When the end of the season rolls around, we may find out that Stanford had a 1-11 kind of effort in them. Also, with more film available on the USC offensive tendencies and actual film on Slovis, teams may be able to develop a gameplan to frustrate the young quarterback in this new offense— but for now, this win looks great on paper. Beating a ranked conference team by more than three touchdowns isn’t easy and should be enjoyed.

Double CommBro Breaker

On the other hand, more first team reps and college experience could mean that Slovis could actually improve as the season progresses. I’m not here for bold predictions so I’m going with the safe route of: “we’ll see.” Oh and you probably want me to acknowledge that Swann is gone, so there. I acknowledged it.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #1: Slovis completed passes of 30 of more yards to four different receivers. As if there weren’t enough ridiculous Slovis stats.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #2: Slovis completed a pass to eight different receivers…which is more than the total number of completed passes he had last week.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #3: The defense amassing 6 pass breakups and 10 tackles for a loss.

Misleading Stat of the Week #1: USC still lost the time of possession battle this week. Luckily, it didn’t matter

USC vs. Fresno State: Ah crap, here we go again

USC vs. Fresno State
August 31, 2019 at 7:40pm
Los Angeles, CA: 57,329 (of 77,500)
Total Time: 3 hours 41 minutes

Yes, I made this meme PG. Bad edits and family friendly since 2015.

It was a perfect chance to reel fans back in. A newly renovated Coliseum, a new offensive coordinator, and a new season. Yet, before the first play from scrimmage, the Helton-isms we’ve come to expect showed that it has endured through another offseason. A flash of brilliance peeked through, as Velus Jones was one missed tackle away from taking the opening kickoff in for a touchdown. It was nullified, not by some illegal block or some other crucial play to spring the returner, no—it was having two players wearing the same number on the field. After that struggle of a game, we go from having JT Daniels as the starter so Jack Daniels as our starter.

We don’t condone alcoholism here. Whoever drew those lines wasn’t drunk

With JT injured and out for the season, SC had to put in their backup. It wasn’t the most experienced guy: redshirt junior, Matt Fink. It also wasn’t Darnold’s high school successor: redshirt freshman, Jack Sears, who is shopping for a new school to play for.

I always preferred K-Mart’s blue light specials to Sears anyway. Just messing; we don’t condone corporate plugs or illegal activity either.

Speaking of corporate plugs…the new branding for United Airlines is up.

It could be worse. The overall plan for the renovation was not great, but the execution of what they chose to do deserves solid credit. If you weren’t there, here’s a few pictures so I can pretend I did my job:

Anyway, back to the game coverage. True freshman, Kedon Slovis, stepped in for Daniels. Another year, another true freshman starter. USC ran a mere 28 plays and scored a single touchdown on offense after he entered the game. He threw some great passes and some terrible ones—as expected from someone that was in high school three months ago.

It was the first game for new offensive coordinator Graham Harrell, but the offense hasn’t made as many strides as hoped. I don’t know what state water experts are telling you, but a drought is definitely still plaguing Southern California. Listed below are the scoring droughts that were close to, or more than, 10 minutes:

9 minutes 56 seconds
19 minutes 38 seconds
16 minutes 51 seconds

Being held without scoring for more than entire quarters at a time is not a good look. That helped the team lose the time of possession battle for yet another game. If you bought food during halftime, you probably spent more time in line than USC held the ball for the entire game. I’d like to thank the academy and the four turnovers for these dubious achievements, but a still sloppy Clay Helton coached team would be closer to the root cause.

Run blocking and pass protection still looks like it could use some improvement. Interestingly enough, the running backs were only hit for a loss one time.

I had intended to return to the long analysis of the team, but I can only write the same stuff so many times. You readers can only stand to read about it—and see it on the field—so many times.

GOOD/BADISMS

GOOD: Velus Jones’ kickoff return for a touchdown

GOOD: Two decent drives: the opening drive, going 13 plays for 81 yards and a touchdown and a 6 play, 80 yard drive for a touchdown in Kedon Slovis’ second drive as a college quarterback.

BAD: There were only two good drives…

GOOD: Daniels’ scrambling shovel pass going in the opposite direction of his momentum to tight end Erik Krommenhoek, whose last reception was against Cal in November 2018. So yes, the first pass to a tight end in three games was an accident due to desperate circumstances. That reception is 20% of his career receptions at USC. Oops, not only am I supposed to be talking about good things, it’s a bit too early for ridiculous stats.

CommBro Breaker

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #1: USC is tied third to last in total number of turnovers.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #1.5: USC had as many turnovers as touchdowns

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #2: Fresno State’s defense broke up more passes than Slovis completed

Misleading Stat of the Week #1: USC has allowed 100% of fourth down attempts to be converted, tying for last in the nation. A sample size of two isn’t really telling…we hope.

USC Football 2019: City Re-Angled

USC vs. the fanbase
Sometime in 2018
Los Angeles, CA: whatever’s left (of 77,500)
Total Time: Until further notice

Oh, it’s good to be back. I’m starting out with an Iron Man 2 reference because, why the heck not. Sorry if you hate Marvel movies because the references are about to continue. I guarantee you they will get more obscure. The Iron Man movies give me the perfect segway into talking about USC football.

No need to fact check. It’s a scene from Iron Man 1

At least Iron Man matches the color scheme. After a severely disappointing 2018 season and a tumultuous 2019 offseason, we’re now a short wait away from the start of the season.

Kliff Kingsbury joining the staff was hyped up more than “ex-wife” bunker buster missile:

It ended just as pathetically. Then Graham Harrell entered the scene all like:

Is it just me, or are these GIFs getting smaller?

At this point you’re probably wondering if you’re actually going to do any reading or just look at laggy reaction GIFs all day. Unfortunately for you, I can do this all day:

Captain America 2 GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Captain America I Can Do This All Day GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

It’s funny how one can pull Marvel, Lord of the Rings, or Star Wars scenes and quotes with no context and force it to match a situation. You can see how I’ve been exercising my newfound free time now that I’ve finished school (again). You may now refer to me as Master CommBro. Two SCent bits are officially retired and cashing in on pension and social security; we’re going back to the full format angles.

Meanwhile, USC Athletics continues to administrate the program into irrelevance. After so many bad moves, they add insult to injury with UC Davis in 2021? Playing an FCS for the first time in the program’s 130+ years signals a resignation to mediocrity that: retaining a 5-7 coach; shrinking the Coliseum; lying down for the sanctions; and a load of other problems apparently did not. It’s not like a winning-streak or some other record you can pick back up later. This is it. It’s done forever. And what’s the reasoning? Does a seventh home game every other year really matter that much?

Maybe you consider this record arbitrary and pointless. But why should we cede this record to both our rivals, Notre Dame and UCLA? There’s almost nothing to gain from winning the game—but what happens if we lose? National embarrassment. Reminds me of this:

Am I a prophet? I don’t want to be.

Currently, the program struggles don’t have to do with circumstances outside of their control or having some rebuilding year. They are all borne of choices made by administrators—choices made for expedience, money, or some yet hidden motive. Either way, it has killed what little excitement I’ve scraped together for the upcoming season.

CommBro Breaker

I feel contractually obligated to give you a stat, so here you go.

Stat of the week: It’s been over 200 days since the last post.

After this uplifting post, see you back here in early September following the Fresno State game!

USC vs. Notre Dame: Comedy of Compounded Clangers

USC vs. Notre Dame
November 24, 2016 at 5:14pm
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA: 59,821 (of 78,467)
Total Time: 3 hours 17 minutes

Two SCents: 

Despite what was probably JT Daniels’ best game all season, the Trojans could not overcome a pair of fumbles and recurrent errors. In a paradoxical manner, they fought harder than anyone expected out of them yet repeated some excruciating trends like zero points in the third quarter.

CommBro Breaker/Bonus SCents:

The season is officially over for USC with no bowl game and a losing season. Freshmen on the roster born after November 25, 2000 literally hadn’t had a USC losing season in their lifetime. For some others, like Daniels, they weren’t old enough to remember a thing about it. That’s how big of a deal this is for the program. Clay Helton should be promoted to fan ASAP.

I’ve modified this expanding brain meme for the occasion.

You know it’s bad when your fan base feels it’s necessary to donate money to fly a banner saying “Lynn Swann—Please Fire Clay Helton”

It’s baffling why Swann intends to bring Helton back for another go when he has shown little to no improvement through 3.5 seasons as head coach.

From his first game as interim against Notre Dame in 2015 to this final ND game in 2018, Helton had about two dominant road game performances outside of Los Angeles (one against each of the Arizona schools). He has also gotten blown out on the road by Notre Dame, Oregon, Stanford, Alabama, Utah, Ohio State, and Texas. Don’t forget about ugly, grinding wins or close losses against teams he should have handled easily. The same applies to some atrocious home games. I can’t imagine this going over well with the fan base.

Home games haven’t broken 60,000 attendees at all this season. What will it look like in 2019 with Helton retained? Should we be prepared for the first back-to-back losing seasons since 1961?

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #1: JT Daniels maintained a career high 72% completion percentage despite throwing the ball more than 50 times.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #2: The Trojans averaged 4 points per third quarter this season.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #3: USC is 120th in the nation in turnover margin, which is also tied for last in the Pac-12.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #4: USC is 122nd in the nation in penalties per game and are 123rd in penalty yards per game.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #5: USC is 124th in the nation in interceptions with a mere 4. There are 35 players in the nation with as many or more interceptions than the entire USC team.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #6: The number of people saying “I’ve been a fan since 19__, but no longer.” Is this straw that broke Traveler’s back in a torrent of frustrating decisions made by the USC Athletic department? The nail in the Kiffin?

Misleading Stat of the Week #1: A USC QB has a passing efficiency of 165.5 and tied with the nation’s best for least number of interceptions thrown.

We’re talking about Jack Sears…who only has 28 career attempts.

Double CommBro Breaker

Also, in case you’re wondering about the title: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/clanger. I needed to introduce British English to fully describe the depth of this era’s failures.

See you all next season if you’re still around. I should be back to writing full length posts. Thanks for your continued support!

USC vs. UCLA: Is the Season Over Yet?

UCLA vs. USC
November 17, 2018 at 12:40pm
Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA: 57,116 (92,524)
Total Time: 3 hours 16 minutes

Two SCents: 

In a rivalry game where special teams had the best showing, USC loses against an equally bad 2-8 UCLA team. The Bruins have an excuse of a rebuilding year with a young team and new coach, while the Trojans have no excuse for every exasperating performance—win or lose—this season.

CommBro Breaker/Bonus SCents:

There’s not much left to be said about this team. The inability to stop the run…from the running back position or an unathletic UCLA QB, throwing a ton with a young and interception prone QB against the nation’s 111th rushing defense, and a QB slide short of the first down. All as ugly and embarrassing from one week to the next.

After back-to-back losses to the UCs, we should all be glad the Trojans won’t play UC Davis in football. This team will likely fall to 5-7 since they will be playing undefeated #3 Notre Dame next week. That means no bowl game and the worst record since 2000—when Paul Hackett got fired. It will likely be the 18th losing season in USC history, which actually includes a lot of 1-2 or 0-1 seasons in the late 1800s. If we’re looking at 1960 and beyond, it will only be the 6th losing season. That would also mean going 0-2 against the major rivals this season.

Oh and Brandon Pili totally should have been ejected for his ridiculous punch.

Dare we hope for good news on Monday?

Double CommBro Breaker

Annual crosstown pranks can be fun, but there’s such a thing as going too far. While impressive that someone managed to get paint onto the Bruin statue despite the box and surveillance cameras, I doubt they had the sense to use paints that are easy to wash off. Hard to consider it a prank when the bill could come out to a reported $20,000 dollars for a state-funded school.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #1-10: The number of assignments I have due near this Thanksgiving holiday. I really wish I had the time to find some more ridiculous stats for you. Apologies to all you faithful readers. One more abridged version next week and I will be back in full, bitter glory next season.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #11: USC converted a 1st & 56 in one play! Too bad it was a score bug error. Or should I call it score bug bug or score bug²? Take what you can get…

USC vs. Cal: An Offensive Offense

USC vs. California
November 10, 2018 at 7:36pm
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA: 56,721 (of 78,467)
Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes

Two SCents: 

Former USC defensive coordinator, Justin Wilcox, went into the Coliseum with his stacked roster of former head coaches, and handed an embarrassing loss to the man that fired him. USC’s previous loss to Cal was a triple overtime against an Aaron Rodgers’ team back in 2003.

CommBro Breaker/Bonus SCents:

Remember that WE PLAY campaign USC ran back in 2012? If it were brought back today, it’d be:

Done in photoshop in a hurried and shoddy manner. Like the coaching.

In a week, the Pac-12 South went from a possible 6-way tie to USC not having any chance of winning.

It’s been a long time since Cal became bowl eligible before USC. Since 1996, in case you’re wondering. So before 99% of current undergraduates at USC and Cal were born. With rivals UCLA and #3 Notre Dame left, the Trojans only have two shots left to get bowl eligibile. Realistically, only one shot.

How did the Trojans go from a 14-0 lead, with a chance to go by 17-0 or 21-0, spend their next three drives going: fumble, safety, then interception?

All they had to do at that point was next to nothing…like not give up a safety. That wasn’t even that difficult…but Helton is adamant at keeping Toa Lobendahn at center and not willing to put in the time to fix his consistently bad snaps.

Then you’ve got the defense, picking up a costly unsportsmanlike conduct after they had the Cal offense stopped on third down. No discipline for the nation’s 10th most penalized team. They also couldn’t contain Cal QB, Chase Garbers’ on some crucial runs.

Lastly, this aged like sour cream left out in the sun for two days:

They’ll probably be much closer to No-Win November.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #1: Cal’s coaching staff probably has the most former head coaches I’ve ever seen. Sure, some of them are from the high school level, but even that’s a rarity. Even if you exclude them, there’s still quite a few. There’s Beau Baldwin (Eastern Washington), Marques Tuiasosopo (Interim, Washington), Tim DeRuyter (Fresno State), Charlie Ragle (Chaparral HS), and Tony Tuioti (Kalaheo HS).

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #2: USC gained 13 yards on 18 plays in the third quarter, and 27 yards on 13 plays in the fourth quarter. That’s 40 yards in 31 plays for the entire second half of the game. A single one of Reid Budrovich’s punts went for more yards than the entire offense did, collectively, for the second half. That’s an average of less than 7 yards per drive in the second half. They lost more yards due to penalty this game (55), than they gained in the second half. I could keep going.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #3: Despite the above stat, USC actually won the time of possession battle this week. They have managed to find some interesting ways to screw up.