I know The Don and I both were looking forward to the biggest Pac 12 matchup of the weekend between #7 Oregon and USC. The first half was a somewhat back-and-forth affair. While USC lept out to a 10-0 lead early, Oregon came back thanks to USC miscues. The Trojans drove down and shrunk the Ducks lead to 21-17 right before halftime. With twenty seconds left before intermission, Oregon’s Mykael Wright took the ensuing kickoff back 100 yards to go up 28-17. That play seemed to take every bit of wind out of the Trojans sails.
Oregon imposed its will in the second half by scoring 28 unanswered points on their hosts. USC’s valiant first-half effort simply wasn’t enough to overcome the injuries sustained by USC throughout the season. A true freshman quarterback, a true freshman running back, and multiple defensive stars out of the game sealed the fate. Oregon is one of the best team’s in the country and they were too much and cruised to a 56-24 victory.
A new AD is unofficially official and most likely a new coach is also coming down the pike. It isn’t easy to see right this moment for many but honestly, USC’s future is bright. The main cause for optimism, in my opinion, is the receiving corps that will take the field soon. Michael Pittman, Jr., Tyler Vaughns, and Amon-Ra St. Brown are deserving to be in the conversation as the best group of pass-catchers in the country. Waiting in the wings, however, are a pair of five-star freshmen.
Orange County products Kyle Ford and Bru McCoy will step in next year and with St. Brown and possibly Vaughns, will give returning quarterback JT Daniels every chance to have a strong 2020. Drake London is another freshman who is a future role player for the Trojan passing attack.
Kyle Ford’s 2017 junior year at Orange Lutheran was his best as his 2018 senior year was marred with injuries. During his 2017 season, Ford caught 91 passes for 1,468 yards and 13 touchdowns. That same season, Ford’s Trinity League rival Mater Dei were named National Champions under coaching legend Bruce Rollinson. JT Daniels threw for over 4,200 yards and 52 touchdowns that year. His top two receiving threats? Amon-Ra St. Brown and Bru McCoy.
Put these aerial studs with a healthy running back group of Vavae Malepeai, Stephen Carr, Markese Stepp, and Kenan Christon, you have a head spinning USC offense. Four out of the five offensive line starters should be returning next year while redshirt freshman Jason Rodriguez will be most likely stepping in at right tackle. It hurts now Trojan faithful, but a sunny horizon is imminent.
My colleague took the grass is greener approach to his immediate reaction to Saturday’s thumping, and while I completely agree with the future optimism, I am going to take the dark clouds approach.
Currently, this program is stuck in neutral, and the man in charge of driving the vehicle, head coach Clay Helton. Strictly from a coaching and recruiting perspective, Helton has been given plenty of chances and plenty of excuses.
As a program, USC should be the PAC-12 South favorite every single year, and the Trojans should not only be a top 25 team every year but should be in the playoff contention every single year. This has simply not happened under Helton’s command. Saturday was the catalyst for this failed era.
I spoke last week on the Bleav in LA Football podcast about how Clay Helton is a very good coach, and may even go on to another program and have a very successful coaching career, but at this time, he is not “USC Good,” and his tenure has shown just that. This is a results business, and the results have not been optimal.
The Trojans battled early with the Ducks, even jumping out to a 10-0 lead, but the positive vibes quickly left the building as the eventually rout finally ended 56-24.
Like the Coach said, at this point, we need to look to the future. We need to look to a better Trojans program. We need to look to a new era. With Mike Bohn set to become the new AD of USC a change of direction is imminent. The dark clouds over this current era will eventually part, let’s just hope that there is a bright sunrise on the horizon.