Coach Helton's 3rd Year Marks A Turning Point
Ever since Pete Carroll left the USC Trojans after coaching from 2001-2009 and bringing them to national prominence, the Trojans have had many notable coaches come and go. The expectations are very high in SoCal, so high, former Coach Lane Kiffin fired his father Monte Kiffin as the team's DC in 2012. I have no idea how that must have felt, but I guess karma came back to bite him when he was hungover for the BCS national playoff game and was relieved shortly after by Steve Sarkisian. Clay Helton has been along for most of the many ups and downs of the USC program. Helton was hired in 2010 as the QB coach of the USC Trojans under Coach Lane Kiffin and after Steve Sarkisian developed off the field problems, Helton was promoted to "Interim Head Football Coach", as he was very briefly after Ed Orgeron quit the job in 2013.
Has Helton Built a Winner At USC?
With a 27-10 record and playing in a very tough conference in the Pac-12, I would say yes that he has. This season will provide a more concise glimpse at the job Helton has been able to accomplish with the players he recruited. In last years 2018 class, players like 5-star QB JT Daniels could be looked to early on their careers to contribute with the uncertainty at the QB postion. The Trojans OC Coach Tee Martin will have whoever takes the first snap for the Trojans highly prepared, he was one of the best to ever play in the SEC. With 5 star Class of 2017 running back recruit Stephen Carr back at full strength the Trojans running game will be at full capacity heading into the 2018 season. USC has not had a recruiting class that has been ranked outside of the top 10 since Coach Helton took over. Overall, they have done a great job at keeping 5 star players in Cali at home.
The Trojans "Horse"
Not often do we mention walk-on kickers in our college football previews, but we have made an exception for heroic kicker Chase McGrath out of Mater Dei High School (CA). The special teams for the USC Trojans will be pivotal to their success as the field goal unit of McGrath, Smith and Olson will be called upon to win games in the clutch. Big match-ups early in the season at Stanford and Texas will show us what this team and special teams unit is all about, as these games should be very closely fought contests. The defensive unit for the Trojans returns mostly all of last years starters that were ranked 20th overall in the nation and has one of the best defensive backfields in the nation. If they can provide an adequate pass rush and solid linebacker core can stop the run, USC could be headed to another Pac-12 championship in 2018.
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