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USC Football

USC Scoop’s Thursday Notes & Quotes With Clay Helton

December 3, 2020

"Happy Thursday to everybody.--It's really our Wednesday of game week."  

With a massive sigh of relief and a smile of content, Clay was extremely relieved to let us know, "the team's last five rounds of testing over the last 3 days have all come back negative."  And because of that great news, the team is still on track to play on Sunday.

With not quite as much relief in his voice or excitement on his face when asked about the linebackers who are injured, Clay updated the status of Palaie Gaoteote, "who is starting to feel better but is still in concussion protocol."--And Ralen Goforth was "moving around pretty well" on the grass yesterday, adding "it will be close" to whether Goforth plays on Sunday.  

My gut feeling, only if absolutely necessary, will Ralen see the field, and IE is not going to play.  Nor should he.

The other obvious area of concern is with the offensive line, and there were the anticipated questions about who is and who won't be available with the Oline unit.  Clay was asked about potentially having to start a few new offensive linemen this week and if he was confident.  Active Listening 101 skills were put to use by Clay when he repeats the question and answers the question. "Am I confident? Yes, I'm confident."

For those of us, and more importantly, the team, who are hoping the new CDC guidelines will positively impact USC's roster numbers getting back to a more 'confident' level.  Clay did his best to hide his frustration with the quarantine protocols when he offered, "it's a filtering process."  
His answer essentially was, USC is waiting for the state and local officials to authorize the Federal updates.  "At some point in time it will get to us."  "Hopefully sooner than later." 

"Patience!" "We're practicing patience with everything."  "We'd love to have everyone back today."
Welcome to Club Frustration, Coach!

The always positive Helton did say when asked if he anticipates getting some of his Oline guys back this week; "The Oline will get guys back this week and that's a good sign."  However, no names were mentioned to keep the competitive advantage leaning in USC's favor.

Helton is adjusting how things are done this week with the guys getting back to work on the grass, while coming off the extended time away, so "Saturday will be a big day for USC." The team will go through the entire game plan.--He said, "they usually go for an hour but that the Trojans will probably have to go longer this week."

I won't call it an awkward answer. However, Clay's response did come across as trying to make sure no individual, or group of people, could be offended when being asked about the players who were isolation, and how they're staying in shape.  Helton said, "the players who are in isolation(and have not tested positive) have equipment in their rooms to help them stay in shape."  It was the same vibe I felt after the #BLVD Hype video was released.  The response from Clay had that USC Football is a part of  the "Haves Club" where other USC student-athletes might be in the "Haves Not Club" vibe to his answer.

Should LA County force USC's hands, Mike Bohn and Brandon Sosna are already exploring possible solutions.  Helton said, "there's been a lot of discussions in the event that USC has to move like Stanford had to do."

For all of the recruiting gurus, here's an update on QB recruiting.  Early Signing Day is only a couple of weeks away, so Clay shed some insight on how USC QB recruiting goes and what he and the staff look for in a QB.  "I've always felt like we've done a great job of evaluating QB's.  We've always been dynamic in the passing game.  We've stuck to a plan in my 11-years being here, where the system might change, but there are always some things that remain the same.  The first thing is always intangibles.--The No. 1 thing for me is you have to know the QB's 'wiring.'--Does he have captain characteristics?  Does he have the physical and mental toughness to deal with adversity under the brightest lights?  Does he have the discipline to be able to do it consistently?  And is he the definition of who you want to lead your team because he is the face of the program?"  The Sam Darnold Effect: "Winners win!"  

On Sunday let’s see which guys have the “deer in the headlights eyes” and which of the younger guys have the “practice eyes.”   Coach Helton is hoping for the  latter of the two.

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USC Scoop’s Thursday Notes & Quotes With Clay Helton

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