USC coach Clay Helton was presented a fortunate opportunity Thursday when his brother, Tyson, reportedly accepted an assistant-coaching position at Tennessee.
Tyson Helton coached quarterbacks and shared play-calling duties with offensive coordinator Tee Martin. If Clay Helton is smart, he will solve two problems at once with his next move.
Despite the fact Martin played quarterback at Tennessee, he coaches wide receivers at USC. Shouldn’t a former quarterback coach quarterbacks? Martin complained earlier this year that he barely speaks to quarterback Sam Darnold during the week because he is with the wide receivers.
Former USC wide receiver Keary Colbert is already on the staff and would be a logical choice to coach wide receivers. Clay Helton should also let Martin call all the plays, if he wants to bring Martin back. The three-headed monster model (Tyson Helton, Martin, Clay Helton) only made things more difficult for Darnold this season.
Right now, Martin takes all the blame for calling half the plays. That makes him unhappy. So these duties need to be streamlined.
Once this gets defined, Helton should focus on the defense and special teams. Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast stubbornly refuses to change his pass coverages during games and also spends time coaching the cornerbacks, the weak link of the defense.
Special teams coach John Baxter did not have his best season. Even on Stanford’s final touchdown last week in the Pac-12 title game, USC had only 10 men on the field for an extra point. That is embarrassing.
>>When Clay Helton lost out to Stanford’s David Shaw as Pac-12 Coach of the Year, it was a major snub for the Trojans’ coach. USC won the conference and defeated Stanford twice.
But the coaches’ message was clear: USC had the most talent, lost two games and rarely passed the eye test, including in the Pac-12 championship game. The coaches believed USC underachieved. So do a lot of fans.
>>The Cotton Bowl will be a night game (5:30 p.m. PT), which is not unusual. But when Ohio State played USC in 1959 at the Coliseum, it was the first night game in Buckeyes history. The game was played on a Friday night because two days later, the Dodgers and Chicago White Sox played Game 3 of the World Series at the Coliseum.
The crowd for the football game was just 49,592, far less than the 92,394 that showed up for the Dodgers-White Sox game. The 11th-ranked Trojans shut out the 14th-ranked Buckeyes 17-0.
>>That game is perhaps best…