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USC Scoop's Thursday Notes & Observations: Weekly Wrap Up With Clay Helton

November 19, 2020
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What do you do when the person in charge of the ZOOM media session gets kicked out of the room? My first thought was Tim Tessalone got an urgent phone call and blacked out his screen so no one would see any visceral reaction depending on the news. A short moment later, Tim's back in the room, and we're almost ready to begin the weekly wrap-up with Clay Helton.

**Coach Helton has that haggard look going again. "Happy Thursday to everybody!" It should be noted that while USC has been preparing this week for a game, there's still a chance the game won't be played. Clay alludes to this fact during his opening comments when he said, "it looks as of last night that things are trending well for Utah's team...and we all have our fingers crossed."

I should also note before Tim was momentarily booted from the room, we were having a similar conversation, so when his computer screen went black, my initial thoughts went to the COVID Zone.

**The weekly wrap up sessions are getting shorter each time. I also noticed Clay was almost done with his opening remarks, and no one had their hand up ready to ask a question; There's really nothing left to cover outside of the player-injury status since everything has been covered during the previous three days with the media and coaches.

**On the injury front: Helton mentioned Brett Neilon has been practicing this week and can possibly be an option on Saturday. I did not get the sense Neilon would play, and based on how well Justin Dedich performed in his absence, there is no need to rush him back. In my opinion, the environment just isn't conducive for positive results, and Clay did emphasize that Brett would be a "GAMETIME" decision. I thought "Big Daddy" Dedich played a strong game. However, USC Scoop learned from a source that Justin felt like he made 4 mistakes during the game, although none were crucial. We told the source to let Big Daddy know that no one is perfect.

**Brandon Pili is progressing and is also a possibility for the game on Saturday. Pili practiced the last two days with a cast and a manufactured splint to make things as manageable as possible. Caleb Tremblay was able to get some "limited contact" work in this week, so Helton said the two of them will be game-time decisions as well.

**As far as Palaie Gaoteote's status, he's still in concussion protocol and has not practiced this week. Suffice it to say IE will not be playing this week.

**The Trojan defensive line is about to get some reinforcement when it was learned this week that Jacob Lichtenstein will opt back in and try to bolster a group that has been dominant despite missing a few key players. Jacob won't be available this week, although once he clears the health and safety protocols, he'll be able to begin working with the team.

I wanted to know when the conversation started with Jacob to rejoin the team and how it came about. Helton explained that the conversation started "this week" and that Jacob reached out to Coach Vic. "I think it's on his heart...you know obviously kids talk and our kids are having a lot of fun right now!" "He wants to be a part of that...and he wants to help his brothers." Jacob told Coach he's ready to buy his plane ticket, and Helton told him he's all for it!

**Fans should anticipate seeing more of Raymond Scott following his productive outing last week in Tucson. Helton said, "Raymond Scott was all for switching back to linebacker once the staff told him he could make a bigger impact at that spot instead of safety."

**More than anything, the media and fans always receive motivating examples, so Helton shared an anecdote from Monday while explaining how he's been pleasantly pleased with USC's young wide receivers. He credits John Jackson III for making an explosive play against the Wildcats, and on Monday, he reminded the team with a slide on the ZOOM screen that said: "You never know when your shot is going to come."

**The freshmen wideouts received a shoutout from Clay this morning mentioning Gary Bryant Jr. and even snuck in Josh Jackson's name, noting we may see him on the field this weekend.

**From Thursday's Captain Obvious department, Clay was asked about Drake Jackson's coming out party and realizing how special of a talent he is. "Drake Jackson was similar to Adoree' Jackson, Marqise Lee, and Leonard Williams in that he[Clay] knew he[Drake] was special the moment he stepped on campus."  

**More on #99Problems. Clay gave an example talking about Drake's spin move on a particular play last week. Clay then described how Coach Orlando relayed to him, "in 9 years of his system TO had never seen that move before"…it was a result of the Trojans putting a spy on the QB, which allows Drake to "improvise" while getting in the backfield. 

**In case you wondering, Clay was asked if he would like a dominant win this week. I'll spare the details. The answer was yes.

**The recent back on the table topic concerning out of conference games was asked, and while the decision to play the games is above his paygrade, you definitely get the feeling he and the team will play as many games as they can get scheduled.

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USC Scoop's Thursday Notes & Observations: Weekly Wrap Up With Clay Helton

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