USC vs. BYU: Meme Stream

Brigham Young University vs. 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. 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.