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.

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.

 

USC vs. Oregon State: Better Than Last Week

Oregon State vs. USC
November 3, 2018 at 7:05pm
Reser Stadium, Corvallis, OR: 35,817
Total Time: 3 hours 23 minutes

Two SCents: 

USC looked better after replacing Neil Callaway with Tim Drevno and Clay Helton calling the plays instead of Tee Martin. Does that mean USC played better or that Oregon State was worse than SC’s previous competition though?

CommBro Breaker

For the record, Oregon State came into the game as one of the worst teams (if not the worst team) in the conference. They have given up an average of 48 points per game against FBS teams and an FBS worst average of 4.5 sacks allowed per game. Even if you remove the 77-31 loss to Ohio State, FBS teams still averaged 43 points against the Beavers, with the lowest scores being 34 (Colorado) and 35 (Arizona). That means that Trojans only put up an average-ish offensive performance against the Beavers.

Furthermore, snaps are still a sore point for the center and the defense was getting picked apart on slant routes. Oregon State repeatedly pulled within 7 and had the potential to tie it several times. I could probably go on about the negatives for a while, but let’s take a reprieve while we can.

John Houston’s well-timed tackle for a loss was one of the best plays of the game. He almost turned Oregon State’s handoff into a sack. The poor Beaver running back was probably mad that the QB handed it to him so that the loss got chalked up to the RB.

It was also good to see USC convert on short yardage plays like the quarterback sneak and fullback dives while playing under center. That was something completely non-existent under Martin’s playcalling. Seeing the offensive line get a push two to three yards downfield on most plays satisfied a weary soul. That allowed Aca’cedric Ware to get his first career 200-yard rushing game. No matter who you’re playing against, having a 200-yard and 100-yard rusher in the game is an accomplishment.

Devon Williams also played admirably, with a huge touchdown catch, in relief of the injured Michael Pittman.

On special teams, Michael Brown made a career long 46-yard field goal.

Defensively, the Beavers were held to -9 rushing yards in the first half. Halfway through the third, the Beavers were desperately trying to keep their rushing stats above 0.

Reminds me of something…

With the win, USC is 1 more away from bowl eligibility. Sadly, such a low standard could still be missed. None of the remaining opponents can be marked off as a win: a Cal team that beat Washington last week and played #10 Washington State tough, a rivalry game against UCLA that is playing better than their 2-7 record would suggest, and, the other rival, an undefeated #3 Notre Dame. Strangely enough, the Trojans could still find themselves with a Rose Bowl berth if they win out in conference play and things bounce their way. It’s a pretty wild situation when the Trojans could potentially enter the Rose Bowl with anything between a 7-6 and 9-4 record or have an 18-year worst record of 5-7. Realistically, I see them making a lower tier bowl like Vegas or Sun.

Misleading/Ridiculous Stat of the Week #1: By the end of the first drive, USC earned 50% more third downs conversions than they did in the entire ASU game last week…which basically just means they had three in that first drive, beating out the two they got last week.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #2: Heading into the game, the Trojan defense only had 18 sacks in 8 games. They picked up 6 more this week.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #3: It’s not often that a team has more carries than yards, but Oregon State managed that with 32 and 31, respectively.

 

 

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.