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USC Football

USC Scoop’s Tuesday Quotable's With Clay Helton

December 1, 2020

Thanksgiving Thursday was the day of taking, so Clay Helton made sure “Happy Tuesday” was a day of giving when he let everyone know right off the bat that "all of yesterday's [COVID]tests were negative and the team will be able to resume workouts today."

Now the question(s) becomes how much time away from each other will have an impact?  And who will be available to suit up and play on a Sunday afternoon?  These aren't just a challenge for USC.  Washington St. is facing similar difficulties in getting an adequate number of players out of quarantine status to play ball.  The game being rescheduled is the primary reason for having the game pushed back to Sunday, and Clay was very forthright with pointing it out.  

With the team tested negative on Monday, clearing the way for the team to "return to the grass," there will be an acclimation period getting the guys back in "football shape" after not having any physical contact for 7 of the last nine days.  Tuesday's practice will be "a strength and conditioning day as the staff tries to get the players back into football shape." Helton added, "the team will be in "full pad engagement" tomorrow[Wednesday]."

Since the game is being played on a Sunday, Tuesday is this week's Monday, and Monday's typically consist of a light workout, so in that regard, the routine is the same.  

The injury update news was focused on Palaie Gaoteote, who is still in concussion protocol, and Ralen Goforth, who is still dealing with a foot sprain, but they will test him today.  Clay was asked to follow up on IE's "recovery time" and when he might be able to return.  USC is always overly-cautious when it comes to head injuries, and he laid out the protocols in place to get cleared, including the "gut feeling" test.  After listening to how Clay described the protocols and how each individual's recovery time is different, my "gut feeling"--Gaoteote is more than likely done for the regular season.  I'm hoping my gut feeling is just gas.

There are always positives to be found when players can't play.  The game moving to Sunday helps USC get some of the 11 players in quarantine back; how many though we're still unclear about.  Trojan fans should be apparent; Clay is "excited to see younger players get significant playing time on Sunday."  

We've been alluding to the above on USC Scoop for the last couple of days, USC's offensive line will have a new look on Sunday.

After a long layoff, the last thing the Trojan defense needs, or maybe they do need to be tested, and face a QB who has the "It factor." Helton reminded everyone, "USC recruited Jayden De Laura and that the freshman QB has the "it factor" and has done an excellent job taking care of the ball." Even though the Cougars have only played two games this season, De Laura has only turned the ball over once.  Can USC's defense continue to bring the pressure like they showed at Utah and force more turnovers?  If they can, perhaps the Trojan offense will find her gear.  By the sound of it, the Cougar offense has had little trouble moving the ball.

"Practicing has been challenging."  With the numbers available still limited, Helton was asked about practice without the players who are currently in quarantine and if players will be moved around from other position groups.  We were told the players would not be practicing "out of position."
Again, the young guys in the Oline room are being leaned on heavily this week.

Early Signing Day is only 15 days away, and the topic of recruiting came up and how important the games USC gets to play are attempting to influence recruits.  Helton said, "he was always hopeful recruits would get to watch the Trojans play this year."--Adding that "there's still some "big fish" out there that the staff is pursuing."  He also reminds everyone to "Believe nothing until the ink is dry."

The impression I got from that last part was that last year’s, egg-on-the-face would not happen this go-around.

With the extended time off and anticipating a bunch of new faces being asked to contribute this week, Helton was asked about any preparation adjustments.  He mentioned they "Shrunk the Bible down on both sides of the ball."  

The voice inside my head said, "Great let's go old school, Old Testament Style," and be violent on both sides of the ball by running the ball on first down consistently, and keep things short and straightforward on offense.  My Bible tells me, with time away from the "contact" practice field, shortening the game's length, will help prevent guys from getting injured if they're not asked to be on the field for 80-90 offensive plays.

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USC Scoop’s Tuesday Quotable's With Clay Helton

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