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USC Football

It's All About Accountability

July 31, 2019

“If I had to say it in one word, I’d say accountabilityAccountability to each other. Accountability to our fundamentals.   Accountability to protecting the ball, and taking the ball away...and the accountability of not having penalties.  Those are the things that cost us games last year.

So if there’s one word, I would say accountability.”

Those were the words Clay Helton spoke one week before fall camp opens this Friday to describe the difference between last season and the upcoming 2019 season.  He was also asked what he’s learned from Graham Harrell.  How simple college football can be. That we all have grand ideas and grand schemes, but it’s not what we know as coaches, it’s what our players know.

Novel concept...keep it simple.

And those simple things like executing on the field and being mentally strong are always easier said than done. 

Accountability can be the difference between five wins with no post season bowl game, and a potential 9-10 win season while starting a true freshman at quarterback.  How many games did the Trojans simply give away last year as a result of poor communication, turnovers, penalties, and a poor mindset?   Once losing sets in playing with confidence declines...especially if the lack of confidence is felt by the players as a result of the play calling.  

I want to give Clay Helton the benefit of the doubt that he’s holding himself accountable after doing some deep soul searching--he earned it after delivering a Rose Bowl victory and Pac12 Championship in each of his first two years as the Trojans head coach. 

“We did some things with a lack of fundamentals that make you just an average football team rather than what you can become...And for me, that’s where...that’s my job.”

Admitting there was a problem is the first step, Coach. 

However, the players still need to be held accountable and execute down the stretch too .  If accounatbility means the defense stepping up on a crucial third down and one at home against Arizona State, or the offense taking accountability for turning the ball over twice in the red zone at home against California, or doing the same against Notre Dame along with criticial penalties...the team as a whole needs to be held accountable.  Those fundamentals and being metally tough cost the Trojans wins.

The team’s mental make up was taken behind the woodshed this off season and they came away with a new sense of confidence, and they’re ready to carry it over into fall. 

Is it as simple as bringing in a new offensive coordinator and strength & conditioning coach with a heavy emphasis on discipline and accountability?  

On paper the Trojans are still the most talented team in the conference, but they don’t always play like it. At the Pac12 Media Day,  Helton mentioned  “it was important for our football team to understand how we got beat...”

Those comments were probably a reflection on Coach Helton displaying a sense of urgency and more intensity this spring which caught the attention of the players. 

No more Mr. Nice Guy, coach?  A little more tough love and less “love of my life?”

Whatever the case may be, the new approach of everyone holding each other accountable could be the difference between an average team and a great team. 

How simple college football can be. That we all have grand ideas and grand schemes, but it’s not what we know as coaches, it’s what our players know.



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