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