USC head coach Clay Helton once again joined Trojans live, the weekly USC radio show. He discussed feeling sick at halftime against Utah because of the three turnovers to start the game. He was also hopeful because the team had just played their best game of the season and showed improvement.
Helton was asked about punting on 4th and 3 at the end of the game. Coach Helton said he trusted his defense with his life and want to force the Utah offense to drive the ball 93 yards down the field. Curiously he was quick to emphasize that if he were down by 3 points in that situation that he would obviously decide to go for it. USC being down by 3 scores to Stanford, however, did not change his decision to punt in the Stanford game.
Another point of contention with Helton’s coaching decisions was not getting Justin Davis any touches in the 4th quarter against Utah despite Davis having a terrific night running the ball. Helton referred to the situation as a catch-22 because he has so many talented running backs he wants to give the ball to and if he gives the ball to Justin Davis then he cannot give the ball to his other backs. Coach acknowledged that there is a time and a place to stick with the hot hand but he apparently did not think a tight game on the road was the right time to give the ball to a guy averaging over 12 yards per carry on the night.
USC has faced 3 teams this season that place a heavy emphasis on controlling the clock and limiting possession but now the Trojans have several teams that like to move quickly and score tons of points. Helton once emphasized ball control and winning on third downs on both sides of the ball. For USC to find success the Trojans defense will need to get off the field on 3rd down and the offense will need to convert 3rd downs. Eliminating turnovers of course will be a must as will be reducing penalties. The Trojans have yet to really have a game were they have done all of these things (minimize penalties, convert on 3rd downs, and eliminate turnovers).
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