With the addition of Todd Orlando to the USC staff we can begin the process of separation from past hype and expectations and a serious lack of physicality. Not to blame Clancy Pendergast, even though this certainly points directly at him, but our defense was hands down soft with few personal exceptions. I think we saw a glimpse of what happens when and athlete is let loose as we saw a very aggressive and hi IQ Talanoa Hufanga take center stage. Hufanga is the type of inspirational focal point that new defensive coordinator Todd Orlando needs. Hell this defense needs this. Beware Kedon and the offense as Todd is going to unleash the routine pre-game week prep to more echo the experience on game day or game night.
While Orlando is preaching the right path for the fans and players will he get full support? Will Clay the fun loving head coach allow this to develop and let his two head coaches define what a football practice should be? This has been an obvious weakness in Helton’s preparation during game week. What this team needs is a full dose of Todd Orlando’s preaching to reach the grass and take the competitive level to the past to win in the future. Understanding how the top programs in the Power 5 operate is not difficult. They create an environment that is physical and up tempo so that when the team comes out of their tunnel to meet the competition they play in a game that in their minds and body that has slowed down so much that they can execute in real time with the type of decision making that changes the game. They hit and keep hitting until the competition doesn’t want to come back out for the second half. They adjust to the weaknesses of the competition at halftime and re-execute with their plan not reactionary to each play.
For USC to get back to relevance and begin repairing all the damage of the Helton ERA it needs to take no prisoners. Be the aggressor. Attack all areas and make the competition react to their direction and not be a follower. Soft is out. Helton faces a gauntlet this year and it’s not just the fans. This team and college football wants to see if things have changed at all with the new staff additions. The fan base is skeptical and should be. Clay has talked like a big boy coach but his actions during the week and on game day are pathetic. His teams have not been prepared and tend to lose games to the top programs as if they were a D2 program. This has to stop.
The good news for all USC fans is that our QB position is solid. We have two great kids who can sling the football. JT Daniels is going to compete but his injury and rehab will dictate when. I doubt seriously that he will be ready by Fall. More like mid year potential which depending on how the O Line performs could be too late or just right. Kedon Slovis showed that while he has poise in the pocket at times he takes blind side hits that have knocked him out of games. True freshmen learning curve of course but season two will tell us a lot about what coach Graham Harrell risked Jack Sears over. So far I give Harrell two thumbs up. Can the O Line achieve the physicality needed to give Kedon time and allow him to survive a season? JT will need to be ready mid season is my guess.
For USC to get back Orlando has to be respected. He has to be allowed to fail with a tough hard nosed approach without the oversight of Clay Helton micromanaging his decision making. If the Defense can dictate the type of physicality needed to compete at the highest levels of college football today then its up to this high flying offense to set the stage as it did last year. Oh and Graham, you might want to use our two senior RB’s a bit more to rest this defense a tad bit longer.