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USC Coach Clay Helton Q and A - Arizona: The importance of playing a clean ballgame and slowing down the tempo

Watch: Clay Helton’s Q and A following the Colorado Game and ahead of their game with Arizona 

NCAA Football: Colorado at Southern California Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Clay Helton had plenty of praise for the USC defense after their performance against Colorado. Helton was quick to point out that any time you can give up the ball 4 times and still beat a quality, ranked opponent is a testament to excellent defensive play.

Sam Darnold was praised for his ability to distribute the ball with 7 receivers getting touches against Colorado. Most notably the resurgence of the tight ends. Darnold however threw an interception and fumbled the ball twice. That cannot continue to happen if the Trojans expect to continue to win. Helton attributed these turnovers to growing pains for young Sam Darnold.

Looking ahead Helton is focusing on fixing the turnover problem. This starts on working with Darnold to work on sliding and to keep both hands on the football when he improvises in the pocket. Darnold’s ability to create in the pocket has ignited the USC offense whose offensive line has had their share of struggles. Unfortunately when Darnold is improvising he has the habit of only keeping one hand on the football which leaves him susceptible to losing the ball. Helton later noted that while USC has struggled to find wins away from the Coliseum the key to winning on the road is to play “clean ballgames” by eliminating penalties and turnovers.

Helton praised Arizona’s ability to run the ball with tempo and using the run pass option. Helton pointed out that Arizona has the ability to run 100+ plays on offense in a single game so it will be a huge priority for the USC defense to slow down the tempo.

Arizona has had problems with keeping quarterbacks healthy and they have played several different players at the position. Helton pointed out that all three players can both run and throw. So, while Clancy Pendergast and the defense may not know who will be under center for Arizona they do know they will play up tempo and work the run pass option.

The Arizona defense is skilled at confusing opposing offenses. Helton had high praise for Arizona’s ability to disguise and that the USC offense should not believe what they are seeing from the Wildcat defense.

You can watch the full interview below:

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