USC Beats UCLA; Coach Gets Permanent Job
December 3, 2015
By Myke Williams
The USC football team showed it can win games on paper and on the field when they beat UCLA 40-21 last Saturday at the Coliseum to capture the Pac-12 South Division championship.
They recruit some of the best athletes in the nation but sometimes they play like C students. Last Saturday they all got A's on the field.
That victory over UCLA not only put them in the championship game it got their interim head coach Clay Helton the permanent job for the next five years. Now the pressure is really on Helton to key the Trojans playing at a high level.
As an interim coach Helton's record was 6-2 but his victory over the Bruins was his shining moment. "I cannot tell you how proud I am of this group of men, especially the seniors," said Helton."
" All of the things this team and the seniors have gone through the last five years and now they can call themselves Pac-12 South champions. That was a total team victory and like I told our players, that's Trojan football."
Now the Trojans must play USC football against a team that has already beaten them, 41-31 on October 19 at the Coliseum. They will play Stanford in Santa Clara at 4:45 p.m. on ESPN.
"It's going to be a tough challenge playing Stanford, " said USC senior quarterback Cody Kessler, who completed 15 of 26 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns
When Helton became the interim head coach on October 17 the Trojans started passing less and enjoying it more. Against UCLA they ran the ball 59 times for 235 yards. Tailback Justin Davis accounted for 130 of the rushing yards. Against Stanford their ball controlling offense must keep the ball away from Stanford's ball controlling offense if the Trojans expect to win the game.
A rejuvenated offensive lineman, Zack Banner is one of the main reasons USC is dominating on the ground. "I told coach Helton that I was going to step up and do my job and do it the best of my ability," said the 6-9, 360 pound Banner. "It's not just me; it's the rest of the offensive line too."
Banner, who is a junior, looked like a man among boys against UCLA. "It's good to know I helped my team win the game," said Banner who admitted that he played the worst game of his life against UCLA last year. "The running backs trusted us and we opened the holes. I can't wait to play in the championship game. Our team keeps fighting and our head coach has done a great job."
The Trojans ended the regular season with a record of 8-4 overall and 6-3 in the Pac-12 South and the Bruins are 8-4 and 5-4. The Bruins will find out which bowl game they will be playing in on Sunday.
The Bruins came into the game against the Trojans missing several key defensive players and those players would have probably made a difference but their outstanding freshman quarterback, Josh Rosen, had a rare off game.
"We made their defense look a lot better than they are," said Rosen. "They are good but we made a lot of mistakes. We did not execute."