• John Skinner

2017 Colorado Preview

Updated: Aug 27, 2018

*The SC defense did a masterful job of containing Khalil Tate for 2.5 quarters Saturday.  A great defensive scheme that was performed well across the board, until they lost their way late in the third quarter.  Arizona only averaged 2.9 yards per play on their first eight drives. It takes an extremely focused effort to contain an exceptional running quarterback like Tate, and with the third quarter taking over 1 hour and 15 minutes with multiple penalties and booth reviews, it inevitably led to the young defense not being able to maintain their focus.  The game completely lost its rhythm and when a player like Tate gets going, it is extremely difficult to stop his momentum.  Fortunately, he made an ill-advised throw late that allowed SC to pull away in a game that should have never been that close in the first place.

*SC had five sacks vs. Arizona…Arizona had only allowed five sacks all season.  SC blitzed on passing downs 53% of the time, its second highest frequency on the season.  They average 37% on the season. SC will most likely dial back the blitz frequency to normal levels as they face pocket style quarterbacks in the next two games.

*Play of the game- Ronald Jones III making an over the shoulder catch on a flawless Sam Darnold throw on the run in the fourth quarter when the game was tied and momentum had shifted to Arizona. . .Jones has improved his pass catching ability tremendously since arriving on campus. This play is indicative of why both should have solid NFL careers ahead of them.

*Continuing to hear the coaching staff will definitely have some changes heading into next year.  Most the chatter centers around offensive coordinator Tee Martin having frustrations with how play-calling is handled on gameday and Neil Callaway prefers to coach in the South.  Martin will also be a prime head coaching candidate for low to mid-level Power 5 jobs.

*SC has run the ball for over 300 yards two weeks in a row and will look to continue that streak against both Colorado and UCLA.  Helton strongly feels the Trojans are a much better team overall when running the ball 60% of the time.

*Look for freshman running back Stephen Carr’s role to increase quite a bit this week versus Colorado.  Carr shook off some rust in limited action last week vs. Arizona and has had a very good week of practice.  It should be a successful day for him since Colorado gives up about 200 yards per game on the ground.

*SC is 6/17 on fourth down this season, ranking 111th in the nation.  With all of SC’s weapons, especially an elusive QB, it is surprising to see how many times they telegraph running up the middle in those situations.

*Defensive end Christian Rector is a game-time decision (broken hand) but we are hearing he should see limited action. Despite missing the past two games, his 6.5 sacks is second most in the Pac-12 behind Rasheem Green who has 7.

*Colorado is better than their record (5-5) and are well-coached.  SC has not had a great week of practice and some observers have voiced concerns about this being an ultimate trap game with SC coming off a big victory over Arizona and facing crosstown rival UCLA next week.  Colorado running back Phillip Lindsay, the school’s all-purpose yardage leader is third in the conference in rushing (1,344 yards) and QB Steven Montez is solid with 2,404 yards and 16 TD’s against 7 interceptions, lead the way for an above average offense.  They have a solid group of receivers led by Shay Fields and have been in every game they have played.  They were up 10 in the 4th quarter on ASU last week before they had some major defensive breakdowns. Colorado had enough offense and quality coaching to pull off the victory.  However, they have one of the worst defenses in the Pac-12 and as long as SC does not turn the ball over multiple times, they should get out of Boulder with a solid win.

*Colorado will have an advantage in the kicking game with SC placekicker Chase McGrath nursing a groin injury which will not allow him to kick long field goals.  Colorado freshman James Stefanou is 16/18 on field goals and 31/31 on PAT’s.

*Here is Tom Haire’s in-depth preview of the Colorado game via usctrojans.com.

*Should SC win the next three games and finish within striking range of the College Football playoff, not scoring from the two yard line in four offensive plays, which would have given them a commanding lead at Washington State, will sting even more.

*Some of the SC fan base has been highly critical of Clay Helton and in their defense, the team has fallen short of pre-season expectations.   However, it is important to keep in mind the following- Since he took over in 2014, he is 24-9 and 18-5 since 2016...only a handful of college coaches can lay claim to that type of record.

*Basketball tickets were sent out late last week and they featured a picture of every major returning player…except one of the best players in D’Anthony Melton. It is definitely looking like we won’t see this future NBA player suit up again for the Trojans.  Hope we are wrong but it is definitely not looking good. However, Duke transfer Derryck Thornton, a former five star recruit, has looked very good lately and should do a good job of filling the void. He also provides SC with a legitimate second point guard with Jordan McLaughlin.  When SC employed a two point guard system with Julian Jacobs two years ago, they were extremely effective.

*The basketball team looked much better against University of San Francisco in a closed door scrimmage last week and kept it going against Cal State Fullerton with Chimeze Metu, Bennie Boatright, Jordan Mclaughlin and Derryk Thornton leading the way in an 84-42 blowout of Cal State Fullerton

*One thing to remember in terms of the FBI investigation of Assistant Tony Bland.  The FBI is not accusing the University of any wrong-doing and have even stated the University may have been defrauded and damaged by his actions.  This type of language may help SC avoid any significant issues with the NCAA as long as the players in question did not receive benefits with the premise of attending USC and the university can prove nobody had any knowledge of Bland’s actions.

*Unless both USC and UCLA lose this weekend, a source confirmed with me that ESPN/ABC plans on taking the USC vs. UCLA game in the 5pm slot.  It could also be moved to 12:30pm but that is the current plan.

*Sam Darnold’s 15.6 yards per completion were a career high. He completed a pass of at least 10 yards to nine different receivers. However, he has at least one turnover in 11 consecutive games.

*Betting Guide- SC opened up as a 10.5 point favorite and the line jumped to 13.5 points.  Both teams have been a disappointment from a betting perspective and are just 3-7 against the spread.  The over/under is 63.5. SC is 1-4 against the spread “ATS” in its last five road games and Colorado has the same record in its last five ATS at home.  The total has gone over for both teams in four of their past five games.

Carol Skinner Memorial Tid-Bit- Linebacker Cameron Smith is one of nine finalists for the Lott trophy.