The biggest benefactor of recent coaching changes on campus could arguably be Clay Helton, the Trojans offensive coordinator who will get his first chance to right the ship on his year-long project.
"The tempo was much faster from the start, we were getting plays in and out of the huddle," said freshman OT Nico Falah, who slotted in with the first-team offense for most of practice on Wednesday.
After spending most of the past two seasons working alongside Lane Kiffin, Clay Helton has been officially given the keys to the kingdom on offense after being named offensive coordinator this Spring.
"We're going to establish the mentality of Coach Orgeron," Helton said after directing offensive drills with his quarterbacks, but this time around getting to call all the plays in practice. "Being able to run the ball and do play-action off of it."
Helton announced that after speaking it over with Coach O, he will ride the sideline for the rest of the season. This move towards the players will grant right-hand man Tee Martin the opportunity to survey the defense from the booth, bringing invaluable experience his NFL playing days to the overriding game plan.
"I thought it was in the best interest of our offense and our team to call plays from the sideline, to be right there with the guys," Helton said, admitting that coach Kiffin's tutelage has groomed to eventually take over the full-time role. "I feel comfortable with it and I have total faith with the two guys upstairs spotting."
The last time Helton called plays on any consistent basis, the Trojans were squaring off in Spring Practice. Working to groom incumbent starting quarterbacks Cody Kessler, Max Wittek or even the young freshman Max Browne, Helton worked wonders with quick-hitting passes for his young guns.
Earning his stripes as the Trojans the full-time play caller moving forward, Helton admits he wants to keep things basically par the course on offense but that doesn't mean he will avoid spicing things up when the Trojans get the football.
"He knows the offense better than anyone, and he knows defense better than anyone," said starting quarterback Cody Kessler, speaking on behalf of his quarterback coach and mentor. "He called a lot of spring ball, just so he could get used to it. He will always get us into the right position for the right play."
If the Trojans first practice is any indicator of what to expect moving forward, than USC will be pounding the rock early and often under Helton, while also building upon their monstrous tight ends in the play-action passing game.
"We are very blessed to have a very, very good skill guys including tight ends," said Helton, adding, "the ability to have two tight end offense and they have flexed out before, they are comfortable with that."
Now in the midst of what Helton calls "a blessing of a bye week," the Trojans offense will embrace many of the strengths under Lane Kiffin (250 yards rushing and passing vs. ASU) while working to add unique wrinkles for its success. Its first major test, comes with excitement and anxiety over USC's hopes next week against upstart Arizona.