USC travels to Corvallis to face Oregon State in an attempt to get back on the winning side. The Trojans are currently sitting with a 4-4 record, 3-3 in conference and sitting two games back in the Pac-12 South following their loss to Arizona State. On Monday Clay Helton made significant changes, firing offensive line coach Neil Callaway, making running back coach Tim Drevno interm offensive line coach, and stripping offensive coordinator Tee Martin of play calling duties, announcing that he would be calling plays during games.
The changes come after the USC offense showed no signs of improving as the season went. USC failed to rush for over 100 yards against Colorado and Utah. The offensively line also looked out of sync, failing to generate a push for the run game and having some difficulties protecting freshman quarterback JT Daniels. Against Arizona State, USC was without Daniels, however Jack Sears and the play calling was fairly decent. USC offense racked up 420 total yards which is the most since the Arizona game, It just wasn’t enough to give USC the win. With all the changes Helton made, is it enough to save the USC offense moving forward?
This week JT Daniels will return after sitting out last week’s game vs Arizona State with a concussion. Jack Sears was efficient, however Daniels and his timing with the receivers has gotten a little better. The biggest question is with the offensive line and the mad who made all the changes in Clay Helton himself. Tim Drevno has a task of patching up a struggling offensive line. As the running backs coach and running game coordinator, maybe he can make some changes that could help the line improve moving forward to make them generate a push in the run game and patch up the pass blocking. A huge issue with the Trojans offensive line is that they lack physicality. There would be games where the offensive line would get beat physically which would disrupt the offensive flow and add to the three and outs. Will Drevno improve that for the time being?
On the other hand Clay Helton assuming play calling duties will either add to the noise or calm things down. Helton was the offensive coordinator and was calling plays back in 2013 when Ed Orgeron was the interm coach for the Trojans. Many griped about the play selection and lack of adjustments made with the offense. With the amount of talent USC poses on that side of the ball, it’s almost baffling to watch. Helton will now be responsible for what the USC offense does and at this rate, it could tell what the Trojans do from here on this season. Oregon State has the worst defense in the conference, ranking last in total defense. If anything this week should be a wake up for the USC offense, however as we’ve seen in the past, Anything can happen in Corvallis, Oregon. The biggest thing to keep an eye on will be if Helton can put his players in positions to succeed and if the USC offense will reach or even show it’s potential. They face two teams who rank at the bottom of the Pac-12 in defense and host a decent Cal defense who held Washington’s offense to 10 points. Not to mention an undefeated Notre Dame team coming to end the season.
Maybe the appropriate question is, will Helton’s staff changes save his job. Helton is owning more responsibility by taking over play calling duties which will either save him for another season or further heat up the seat for him.