USC vs. ASU: Sears Not Bankrupt

USC vs. Arizona State
October 27, 2018 at 12:41pm
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA: 47,406 (of 78,467)
Total Time: 3 hours 21 minutes

Okay, I had to make a Sears pun. It was ripe for the taking, much like this game that Clay Helton and his staff failed to close out on.

Can USC get 40% off on Helton’s salary?

Can the Pac-12 also get 40% off on the officials’ salaries? I showed up to watch the reviews but they kept letting it get interrupted with this football. Yes, I’m being facetious about the latter.

Two SCents: 

Mounting injuries on defense and a coaching staff that continues to get in the way of their own team prove to be insurmountable for third string quarterback, Jack Sears, to overcome. His play actually kind of makes you wonder why he was third on the depth chart anyway.

CommBro Breaker/Bonus SCents:

The last vestiges of arguments for Clay Helton’s head coach position have ended with the 19 game home winning streak. That was the first time the Trojans have lost in the Coliseum since Steve Sarkisian botched the game against to his former team, Washington, in 2015.

It’s not often that we hear of a third string quarterback starting a game. When was the last time USC played one not during garbage time? You’d have to go back to Paul Hackett’s second season in 1999 when Carson Palmer, John Fox, and Mike Van Raaphorst all played a few games that season.

The good news is that the offense looked a bit different than what we’ve seen throughout the season. The adjustments actually allowed Sears to thrive a bit. He was able to gain confidence and capped it off with a ridiculous pass to Vaughns to give the Trojans a sliver of a chance in the fourth quarter.

The punting (both kicking and receiving) crew looked fairly solid early on with a punt return TD and a few pinned deep into ASU territory, including at the one yard line. Giving up the 92-yard punt return TD kind of puts a significant mark on their performance though.

Talanoa Hufanga being out for the season puts this team’s defense at a huge disadvantage. With Bubba Bolden gone, and Isaiah Pola-Mao and Marvell Tell injured, only C.J. Pollard remains as a scholarship safety. The defense has to suffer this while also missing Porter Gustin and Cam Smith from the linebacking corps.

Lastly, that was a miserable game to watch in an 80+ degree and 94% humidity day. A good rule to live by is that the temperature and humidity level should both be lower than your grades in school.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #1: A new low in attendance numbers for Saturday with a shocking sub 50,000 people. Since this keeps coming up, I actually crawled back through records to see that last time it was lower. We have to go back to the 2001 season that played follow-up to a 5-7 2000 season. It was Pete Carroll’s first year and his 3-5 team competed in front of 44,800 against Oregon State early in November.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #2: An abysmally low third down conversion rate with 2 of 11 (18.18%).Eight games in, the Trojans are 117 out of 130 in third down conversion percentage.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #3: USC also happens to have the highest penalties yards per game in the Pac-12 and third most in the Power 5 conferences. They sit 124 out of 130 nationally.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #4: Are we allowed to have good ridiculous stats? I make the rules and I say yes. Tyler Vaughns scored touchdowns in an astounding three different ways: an 82-yard punt return to open USC’s possessions, a 36-yard pass to Michael Pittman to take the lead, and a desperately necessary 48-yard reception near the end of the fourth quarter.

Misleading Stat(s) of the Week #1: If you want something USC is #1 at, it’s for 80+ yard punt returns. They are tied with 11 teams…including ASU. Other than that, it’s PAT kicking percentage. This and the previous stat are the only two I could find, but they have to share this #1 spot with 69 other teams.

 

 

USC vs. Utah: Statistical Anomaly pt. 2

Utah vs. USC
October 20, 2018 at 5:10pm
Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, UT: 46,405
Total Time: 3 hours 12 minutes

Two SCents: 

Seven games in and the USC Trojans are in full Clay Helton road game form: anemic offense, bad snaps, and uninspired coaching that left freshman quarterback, JT Daniels, exiting the game with a possible concussion. If not for a few lucky plays, the offense would have been held scoreless for the first three quarters of the game.

CommBro Breaker

The defense may have faltered towards the end, but I would attribute that fault more to the offense. Week in and week out, they have to endure being on the field for 30% more plays and nearly 10 minutes of game time on the field than the failing offense. By the end of this Utah game, they looked absolutely exhausted, so Utah could continue to race them to death using perimeter runs.

I thought last week was a statistical anomaly, but this one is definitely worse in the grand scheme of things (especially since it ended in a loss). In fact, “anomaly” may not be the right word; this has definitely become a pattern for Clay Helton and his coaching staff. Year three is usually when a head coach fully installs their system and philosophy, leading to a strong team or a hollow mess of one. Find me one person that can believe it’s the former.

He probably looks like this

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #1: 205 yards of total offense. That’s seriously half of what Utah’s QB, Tyler Huntley, produced himself (398 total yards).

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #2: USC punted as many times as Utah scored (7). USC scored as many times at Utah punted (4).

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #3: The Trojans ran less than 60 plays (54), which resulted in a time of possession that was 9:32 less than their opponent.

Misleading Stat of the Week: 20% of USC’s first downs were a direct result of a Utah penalty and 10% were from fourth down conversions…but that’s only because USC only had a total of 10 first downs through the entire game. Ridiculous Stat of the Week #4: In the first half, USC’s defense had more sacks (5) than USC’s offense had first downs (4).

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #5: All three of Helton’s losses this season have been by double digits. They average a 16 point differential per loss.

Uplifting Stat of the Week #1: Only 2 penalties for 20 yards!! Yay!…Yet, by the end of the third quarter, they still had more penalties (2) than first downs (0 of 10)…I’m bad at this uplifting thing, huh?

Uplifting Stat of the Week #2: A 310 pound Jay Tufele ran 48 yards for a touchdown.

USC vs. Colorado: Statistical Anomaly

USC vs. Colorado
October 13, 2018 at 7:45pm
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA: 57,615 (of 78,467)
Total Time: 3 hours 42 minutes

Two SCents: 

#19AP/#18Coaches Colorado entered this game undefeated (5-0, 2-0 conf.) against a USC team that hasn’t lost to CU from the times of Howard Jones to the present and decided to put up a performance in recognition of that. The Trojan would’ve looked just as bad if not for some heroic catches by Michael Pittman and Tyler Vaughns.

CommBro Breaker/Bonus SCents:

Newcomer Palaie Gaoteote played well at linebacker in the absence of Cam Smith. The defensive back play as also fun to watch in the fourth quarter. There were more break ups there than the summer after a high school graduation.

It was also great to see Matt Barkley out there launching some shirts into the crowd with the cannon.

Professional level photo quality

The 13 penalties for 123 yards is bad, but the officials’ management of the game was worse. Dragging out a 7:30pm game to nearly four hours with unnecessary, ticky-tack penalties sucked lots of the enjoyment out of the game. Rumor is that Colorado didn’t even know they had scored the touchdown when they went for that inexplicable two point conversion. You’d think they’d tried to clean things up after the recent scandals.

Special teams also crapped out another mess.

Basically the entire game was some of statistical mess, so buckle up for the ridiculous stats of the week.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #1: USC had ZERO rushing yards at the end of the first half.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #2: JT Daniels’ 50% completion rate for 272 yards, 3 TDs and 2 INTs. While the final stat line is acceptable for a true freshman starting his first season, the breakdown reveals a problem with the entire offense, especially in context of the rushing yard stats.

Quarter Passing Yards % of total passing yards
1st quarter 43 15.80%
2nd quarter 212 77.90%
3rd quarter 10 3.70%
4th quarter 7 2.60%

The second half passing yards (17) were less than 50% of the first quarter passing yards (43). That means almost all of his passing yards were a product of the second quarter. That’s 212 passing yards within those 15 minutes (77.9%), and basically nothing much else. You might say that this doesn’t include the two major drops that would’ve resulted in big plays/touchdowns, but that means this offense has an overreliance on explosive plays much like Sark’s offenses did. Clay Helton and his offensive coordinator continue to disappoint.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #3: USC has been on the losing end of the time of possession stat for the fifth straight game. The last time they had a higher TOP was against UNLV.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #4: Three home games in, USC attendance has hit a 10+ year low. Both the average (56,248) and peak attendance (58,708, vs. UNLV) are lower than USC’s previous 10 year low of 60,314 (vs. Oregon State, 2017). Bad football and ongoing renovations seem to be taking their toll on attendance.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #5: Colorado finished the third quarter with less rushing yards than the end of the second quarter. I guess neither team could really run in this one. Other than allowing a few fluky plays, Pendergast called a pretty good game.