Notre Dame football player Jerry Tillery issued an apology Monday evening after footage from Saturday’s game captured the defensive lineman appearing to push the head of an injured USC player with his foot and step on the foot of another USC player.The injured USC player, running back Aca’Cedric Ware, was lying limp on the field after suffering a hit from Notre Dame linebacker Nico Fertitta, who would later be penalized for targeting, when game footage showed Tillery’s foot make contact with Ware’s helmet and push his head. Soon after, Tillery was called for a penalty of unsportsmanlike conduct for stepping on the foot of senior offensive lineman Zach Banner as he lay on his back after a play. “I want to take full responsibility for my actions on Saturday,” Tillery said in a statement released on his Twitter account. “I am truly sorry. I acted in a way that was out of character for me. What I displayed in these two instances were unbecoming and not indicative of the kind of player or person I am.”Both Banner and Ware seemed to accept Tillery’s apology, speaking out from their Twitter accounts on Monday night. “Mistakes happen bro, I’m good, [Ware is] good,” Banner wrote. “You earned my respect from your apology. Take care.”Ware expressed similar sentiments, responding simply with, “respect bro.”In an interview with ESPN following the game, which ended in a 45-27 Notre Dame loss, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said that he would be discussing the two incidents with Tillery. Tillery has been subject to controversy at Notre Dame before. Last season, he was suspended from Notre Dame’s bowl game for violating team rules, and in October, he made headlines when his Twitter account appeared to like multiple tweets that called for Kelly to be replaced by LSU’s former coach Les Miles.
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.
Warriors.No matter where you went, no matter where you looked, Warrior pride was everywhere. The girl at the bus station. The father and son riding riding BART Thursday morning. The two nuns walking down Broadway.The Clippers came here to play the Warriors.Turns out they were going up against an entire city.A very loud. Very proud.Very Warriors city.And that was before stepping foot into Oracle Arena on Thursday for Game 3 of this first-round Western Conference playoff series. The loudest, craziest, wildest arena in the NBA.But somewhere between L.A. and Oakland, the Clippers bought some ear muffs and a little bit of perspective.They weren’t playing an arena, they were playing a team. They didn’t have to beat 19,596 frantic fans, they had to beat the 12 guys wearing Warriors uniforms.When you put it that way, it makes the challenge of playing in this crazy setting a lot less daunting.But it doesn’t lessen the Clippers’ 98-96 win over the Warriors, which positions them perfectly to steal two games in Oakland and return home with a chance to close the series out.But first things, and that was taming the Warriors and their very intimidating arena Thursday. Which they did — but barely — behind another monster game from Blake Griffin, the physical domination of DeAndre Jordan and one mighty defensive stand by Chris Paul to force a Stephen Curry air ball for the winner in the closing seconds. And in the process, finally silence an arena.“We know they’re one of the loudest crowds in the league, especially during the playoffs,” Jordan said. “But we kept fighting, we kept digging, we kept taking their punches and we never let the crowd into the game. For us, it a sign of maturity.”And in the end, they hung on.“We survived,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers corrected.Perhaps. But for a young team still growing up, it was a major step.“You just try to find a way,” said Paul, who was battling a tight hamstring and a fever. “You just try to win, by any means necessary.”Oracle’s reputation is so notorious that Rivers fielded as many questions about Oracle Arena as he did his own players.Forget whether Paul’s hamstring is still barking or if Jamal Crawford’s calf was too tight to suit up playing — they both played — everyone wanted to know whether the Clippers were prepared to deal with the zany, hostile, off-the hook snake pit they were setting foot into Thursday.Rivers addressed it at the morning shootaround and during his pregame press conference a few hours later.It’s really, really loud, Rivers confirmed.Over and over and over.Paul and Crawford and Matt Barnes — who once played for the Warriors — were asked the same.Yup, they agreed. It’s as loud and boisterous as any place they’ve played.I’ve covered the NBA longer than I care to admit, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard more talk about an arena than I have in this series.Usually hype supersedes reality, so color me skeptical before heading out to Oracle. Sure, Oakland wore its Warriors love proudly around town the past two days.But there are plenty of loud NBA arenas around the league.What made this one so special and more deafening than any of the others?More importantly, can an arena have as much impact on a game as so many worried?I’m not going to lie, Oracle was all that and more.From the moment I walked in three hours before tip-off and heard a live band covering the Gap Band and Michael Jackson, I knew this was unlike any place I’ve been.And by the time the fans — 99 percent clad in those bright yellow shirts screaming Loud. Proud. Warriors. — filled up Oracle and grooved to the Old School mix by an in-house D.J. right up to tip-off, it was clear this place is special.Then came the loud boos for the Clippers, the electrifying pregame introductions of the Warriors — complete with a Warriors flag-carrying dance group that hyped the crowd up even more.An finally, a deafening chorus of Beat L.A. Beat L.A. Beat L.A.It was the dance club meets the NBA playoffs meets WWE.It was loud. It was proud.And it was all Warriors. Last time I checked, though, nobody ever hit a three from a club level seat in section 112.And there isn’t an arena loud enough in the world to block an open jumper.So while the Clippers clearly had to deal with the elements of Oracle on Thursday, they didn’t really have to actually play against it.Believing otherwise is to let the mere concept of something dig so deep into your psyche, it’s beaten you even before you step on the court.All of which added to the intrigue of this series, not to mention the challenge for a Clippers team that, for all its recent accomplishments, is not yet playoff savvy.The Clippers openly embraced the power that is Oracle, acknowledging it, respecting it and praising it.What they didn’t do is give in to it.If they were going to get beat, it was going to be the Warriors behind it, not their crazy crowd and rambunctious arena.They didn’t feed the monster with careless turnovers or rushed shots or sloppy defense.That would have been playing right into Oracle’s hands.They played with restraint and care, that is until a sloppy final stretch that peeled an 18-point lead all the way to two points and put the ball in the Warriors’ hands with a chance to win it on their last possession.“I thought we earned the game because we played better, overall,” Rivers said. “But we have to do a better job closing the game out.”The closeout wasn’t clean, but the Clippers held on nonetheless.“For us to withstand their biggest punch … that was the key to our win,” Jordan said.In the process, they proved an important point.The bark is one thing, the bite something else entirely.And there isn’t a crowd loud enough to block a shot or make one. Oakland – The girl checking me into my downtown Oakland hotel had the spirit, the bright, yellow neon shirt she wore practically shouting the three most popular words in the Bay Area this weekend: Loud. Proud. Warriors.So did the guy at the rental car counter, the cashier at the gas station and the parking attendant valeting my car.Loud.Proud. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error