Let’s hear it for Helton · Interim head coach Clay Helton led the unranked Trojans to a 42-24 win over No. 3 Utah Saturday in the Coliseum. He is now 2-1 as the head coach of the Trojans, losing only to Notre Dame. – Nick Entin | Daily TrojanTwo years ago, USC had an interim head coach and was coming off a close loss to Notre Dame as they prepared to face off against the Utah Utes for parents weekend. The Trojans entered that game shorthanded, as multiple linemen and skill position players were injured. In fact, the Trojans were so thin that most pundits criticized the NCAA for putting student-athletes’ safety at risk.Two years later, and the Trojans walked into their 2015 battle against the Utes under eerily similar circumstances. They are decimated by injuries and under the direction of yet another interim head coach. Just like in 2013 when the team pulled out an incredibly gutsy 19-3 victory over Utah, the Trojans rallied again on Saturday to win in convincing fashion against the No. 3 team in the country.The game, and the Trojans’ performance, told us a lot about this year’s squad. For the first or second time this season, the Trojans played with fight and resolve for 60 minutes. It also showed us how great the Trojan program really can be.Last week, I wrote that the Trojan program is a fallen power, which it is. I also said that the right coach can take the Trojans back to national prominence within one season, and Saturday was a testament to that.The USC team was playing with a second string offensive line. They were missing their starting running back, multiple receivers, and members of the secondary and they still dominated Utah, which came into the game as the No. 3 team in the country.In the last two years since the 2013 Utah game, USC has floundered tremendously. They have had multiple coaches, multiple scandals and a wide array of losses in games they should have won. Conversely, Utah has been a steady ship. The Utes have ascended to national relevancy through disciplined football and consistent coaching. They probably weren’t deserving of the No. 3 ranking in the country, but they are most certainly a top 10 to 15 program.Yet, when the Trojans faced off on Saturday they were favored, and they proved Vegas right because they were the better team. I would also say that USC’s talent is so superior to Utah’s that they would beat them seven or eight times out of 10.That is absolutely ludicrous to think about as a college football fan. USC, which has suffered so much turmoil and endured so many distractions, still is good enough to beat a very solid football program more than 50 percent of the time. Utah has climbed so high in two years, and yet they still cannot eclipse the Trojan brand at its worst. It’s not just Utah, I’m sure the same could be said about most programs in the country. USC isn’t a national power anymore, but they very well could and should be with the right coach.USC recruits great talent, and as Saturday proved, the better players will win out most of the time. The Trojans have notoriously under-developed many of their highly touted recruits over the last few years. Yet, the playmakers, who have been able to transcend lackluster coaching, demonstrated on Saturday how lethal talent can be on the football field. Whether that was JuJu Smith-Schuster outrunning the Utah secondary on crossing route after crossing route, or Ronald Jones breaking through the line and arm tackles, the Trojans have the talent on this team and in the pipeline to be a national brand in 2016.That coach is still up in the air, but I hope very fair consideration is given to Clay Helton. While he is still adjusting to the head coaching role, he clearly has this team playing with passion and pride. The Trojans haven’t jumped around at midfield to start the fourth quarter like they did Saturday in a very long time.Whoever the coach is, he has to understand the value and history of the Trojan football team. The Trojan program has a long lineage of great players, who can mentor and shape the current student-athletes. The talent is there, the resources are there. Everything is there for a coach to come in and have USC back atop the rankings next year.USC should be in every game the rest of the season, and there is no reason they can’t win the Pac-12 South if Utah loses once more. It may not happen, but they certainly have the talent and capability to make it happen. That’s a pretty impressive feat considering everything that has happened the past few months, and even more so, the past few years. Hopefully, next year the goal will move from a conference championship to a national one.Jake Davidson is a junior majoring in accounting. His column, “Davidson’s Direction,” runs Mondays.
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