Perhaps it was for the best that USC’s 41-28 loss to Utah was buried in the Los Angeles sports headlines on Saturday, with the Dodgers winning the pennant and a fight breaking out at LeBron James’ Lakers home debut. It deserved to be hidden on television on the Pac-12 Network and on radio — due to the Lakers game — on a country music station.It wasn’t worth watching or listening to anyway.The same, predictable things happened. The Trojans jumped out to a 14-0 lead, but not on the offense’s merits. The first touchdown, an ill-advised throw into double coverage from freshman quarterback JT Daniels to junior wide receiver Michael Pittman, should’ve been intercepted. The second was a defensive score.Despite the early lead, at no point did the offense have a rhythm. At no point did Daniels look comfortable. At no point did this team, stacked with five-star recruits, look even slightly in control against a far-less talented Utah team. We’ve been over this, time and time again.It was hardly a surprise when Utah came back, a la Texas. When USC failed to score on its final five possessions of the first half, it was already over. The halftime score read 20-14 in favor of Utah, but it felt like total domination.In the end, it was. The Utes scored 34 unanswered points and racked up 541 total yards of offense, more than doubling USC’s 205 yards. The Trojans managed 73 yards on the ground and 132 yards in the air. They started the game 0-for-10 on third down conversions and possessed the ball for more than nine fewer minutes than the Utes.Translation: not good.“We hadn’t had a night like that since Alabama in ’16,” offensive coordinator Tee Martin said.I was at AT&T Stadium two years ago for that rout, a 52-6 loss to open the 2016 season. I never thought I’d witness anything close to it again. But Saturday was, in fact, USC’s worst offensive performance since that game, when the Trojans recorded 194 yards of offense against the Crimson Tide.In that game, with USC down big in the second half, a backup redshirt freshman quarterback by the name of Sam Darnold saw his first action in garbage time. It wasn’t long before he took over the team, and we took the quarterback position at USC for granted. It didn’t matter that the playcalling was suspect, or the defense slipped up, or something happened on special teams — Darnold cleaned up the mess for the next two seasons.Now, with a true freshman at quarterback, USC no longer has that luxury. We’ve known this since the opener against UNLV, and especially after Weeks 2 and 3, when Daniels showed growing pains in losses at Texas and Stanford. It is Week 7, and he still hangs in the pocket too long, still throws off his back foot when he doesn’t need to.But the losses aren’t on Daniels. Plenty of college football teams have freshman quarterbacks who are inexperienced and make mistakes in their debut seasons. That’s fine. That’s what happens when you trust an 18-year-old to run the offense.Head coach Clay Helton said it himself in his postgame presser, so I won’t sound too accusatory: Blame the team’s shortcomings on him.“I’m going to put everything on me, as far as performance,” Helton said. “My job as head coach is to make sure we’re performing at a high level, and we didn’t do go enough to win the football game.”Step one is recognizing the problem. Helton did that. Step two is solving it.It starts with putting the quarterback in the best situation to succeed. That means establishing the run game so Daniels is not forced to throw the ball on third-and-long. It is incredible that with three stellar running backs, USC’s rushing attack is still inconsistent and failed to hit 100 yards against a Utah defense that played a Cover 2 formation — which invites the offense to run the ball or throw for short gains — for much of the night. Not only did the Utes clamp down on Daniels’ pass attempts, but they also shut down the run.“We hit it up a couple times [on the ground], but not consistently enough to take them out of Cover 2 and we weren’t running it consistently enough [for Utah to] feel like they needed to change,” Martin said.That responsibility — calling the plays, making in-game adjustments — rests on the shoulders of the coaching staff. Week in and week out, this team has far too much talent for play-calling to drag everything down. This team is too good to not be in control of the Pac-12 South.But that’s where we are. If, for some reason, you didn’t want to watch the Dodgers or Lakers on Saturday and flipped over to USC football, you saw exactly what has plagued this team all season long. And as the mediocrity drags on for the remainder of this season, one can’t help but wonder what the tipping point is for the people in charge at Heritage Hall. Eric He is a senior majoring in journalism. He is also the managing editor of the Daily Trojan. His column, “Grinding Gears,” runs Mondays.
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThisSomething new is brewing in Alpena. That’s the satisfaction most residents are bragging about when it comes to the new coffee shop in town. Hiring over 24 employees, Biggby Coffee is bringing growth to Northeast Michigan.“It’s a big economic plus for Alpena,” Jeff Konczak, Biggby Coffee owner said.Biggby Coffee was founded in Lansing and serves customers throughout 6 states.“It use to be called Beaners and it’s an amazing brand. I was born and raised in Alpena and found Biggby out there and I love the brand and the people so much that we decided to bring it to Alpena,” he explained.Although mocha’s and sandwiches are popular it’s something else that will keep customers coming through the door.“We’re hiring on personality and nothing more,” Konczak said.Alpena has a number of coffee shops in town. This storeowner said he just wants to add another unique flavor.“I think other coffee shops in town are fantastic, we’re not trying to replace them we’re here to bring other offerings to the city of Alpena,” Konczak said.So when you’re in a need of a wake up fix, make sure you take time out to enjoy a nice cup of Joe.AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThisContinue ReadingPrevious Local Men Share a Unique Bond Through World War IINext Local Walgreens Celebrates National Red Nose Day
LAS VEGAS >> The smile formed on Mike Krzyzewski’s face. The expression conveyed the same satisfaction a proud father feels about an accomplished son.This subject, however, involved Lakers rookie forward Brandon Ingram and how he left a lasting impression during his lone season at Duke. “I love that kid,” said Krzyzewski, both the coach for the Blue Devils and the U.S. men’s Olympic team. “He’s going to be very special.” So special that Krzyzewski mentioned the 18-year-old Ingram played with the U.S. Men’s select team at an early age just like Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson. So special that Krzyzewski believes Ingram’s success as the ACC’s freshman player of the year will translate into the NBA. So special that Krzyzewski dismissed concerns on how Ingram will handle a more physical NBA with his listed 6-foot-9, 190-pound frame. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error “He’s strong minded,” Krzyzewski said. “And he’s stronger physically than people would think.”Krzyzewski’s affection for Ingram has pointed toward another quality, though. Ingram revealed that quality when he learned about Krzyzewski’s promising prediction about his future. “It gives me motivation. I like compliments,” Ingram said. “But if you settle right now and not be the player you’re supposed to be, it’s going to get real ugly.”Ingram did not paint a pretty picture when he failed to crack double figures last year against Kentucky, VCU and Georgetown. Krzyzewski then moved out of the starting lineup. In what Krzyzewski considered a turning point, Ingram then scored 24 points against Indiana in an early December game. When senior forward Amile Jefferson suffered a season-ending foot injury in December, Ingram assumed both a larger scoring and defensive role. Ingram listened to Krzyzewski’s season-long advice “just to be himself and to be instinctive.” “Playing one year under Coach K feels like three years,” Ingram said. “I learned so much from him.”Those lessons included how to elevate his teammates, maintaining his competitiveness and becoming more vocal. Yet, Krzyzewski downplayed his role in mentoring Ingram. Instead, Krzyzewski credited Ingram’s teammates, including Jefferson, Grayson Allen and Matt Jones. Krzyzewski then circled back to Ingram, calling him a “no-maintenance, great guy.”“He grew in every way,” Krzyzewski said. “He’s going to get so much better. He loves the process. He loves the game.”Ingram showed the passion for his craft on Tuesday in numerous ways. He wasted little time in Tuesday’s scrimmage at UNLV matching up against Durant, a player who has both collected four NBA scoring titles and elicited comparisons because of his lean dimensions as a rookie in 2007. Ingram had an extended shooting contest with Lakers second-year D’Angelo Russell, a competition Ingram insisted he won three out of five times. And Ingram may as well have held a microscope when he analyzed his Summer League stint. “I could have played better. My shot wasn’t falling a little bit,” said Ingram, who averaged 12.2 points on a 41.2 percent clip and four rebounds through five games. “That could have affected me. Moving on, I could learn from it. I just have to get better in all aspects.”The Lakers anticipate Ingram will improve quickly, perhaps just as fast as when he experienced his mini slump at Duke. “Every game, he started to figure out his spots and his aggression,” Russell said. “Playing every game, he’s going to figure out where he can pick and choose his spots from and on defense with what he can get away with. It’s all new, though. I expect him to get it very soon.”So soon that Russell hardly envisioned Ingram mirroring his summer-league hiccups in the regular season. “Last year, I struggled more than he did,” said Russell, whose rookie summer-league stint entailed averaging 11.8 points on 37.7 percent shooting, 3.5 turnovers and 3.2 assists. “This year, he played way better than I did. He just didn’t make shots.” And if Ingram continues to miss shots? Regardless, Ingram will still lean on his support system, including Krzyzewski. “Coming into this league, I’m going to battle a lot of adversity,” Ingram said. “It helps me when I was younger, just battling mental toughness and now coming up and battling through criticism. I know I haven’t arrived yet.”All of which explains why Krzyzewski believed Ingram soon will. “I’d take him all the time,” Krzyzewski said of Ingram. “He’s going to be really good.”