Calling USC’s 2018 season a disappointment would be an understatement. It seems odd to say Clay Helton is on the hot seat after two New Year’s Six bowls in the first three full seasons at Southern Cal, but that’s the reality of the situation.
After a roster overhaul from last season and starting a freshman at QB, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if they were to struggle. The fact that he wasn’t the sexy hire that the fan base wanted is truly the cause for the temperature change. He simply won too much for them to get rid of him, and it was a huge help to have Sam Darnold running the show along with a handful of NFL caliber players on defense.
However, a sub-.500 record and missing a bowl game at USC will never be acceptable.
New OC Hire
Last year’s offense was in the cellar of the PAC-12. Comparing them to the rest of the NCAA would be just as embarrassing. They ranked dead last in third down, tenth in rushing and ninth in passing. A reminder that there’s only 12 teams in the conference. They made the flashy hire in Kliff Kingsbury, but it was short lived as he bolted to the NFL for the Arizona Cardinals job. I think we’re all still scratching our heads about that hire. In comes Graham Harrel from North Texas. Similar to Kingsbury, he was also a Texas Tech QB in the past. He transformed a Mean Green offense that was in the bottom 25 nationally to a top 30 his last two seasons. A similar face lift is necessary for them to succeed.
JT Daniel’s Takes the Next Step
Daniel’s re-classified to enroll at USC a year early. How he managed to beat out two starters that were on campus years earlier is still a mystery. His lack of experience showed in many of the games during 2018 when it came ball security. He had a total of 12 turnovers, and it could’ve ballooned to 19. He had nine total fumbles and two were lost. He had a pedestrian 14 total touchdowns on the year. They’ll need a significant spike in production to content for a conference title.
The USC defense wasn’t terrible last year. They were middle of the road in points per game, total points, yards per game, and tied for fifth in sacks. However, they essentially never took the ball away last season. Their 10 team turnovers were only one better than the nine from Oregon State. There’s no way a USC should be comparable to Oregon State at any point with their high level of talent. Year three under defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast could be his last if it repeats.