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2020 UCLA Tuesday: Trojans Start Short Week

Dec 8, 2020

Game Notes vs. UCLA (PDF)

The Trojans earned a big win on Sunday, but have no time to gloat, as they've got a matchup with UCLA on Saturday at the Rose Bowl.

  • USC head coach Clay Helton explained that the team deployed six defensive backs, which included using safety Talanoa Hufanga in a linebacker role, against WSU due to their spread offense. "We came in to the Washington State game very respectful of their receivers," he explained. "We just have a special body in Talanoa, because he has the athleticism of a defensive back but the physicality of a linebacker at 215 lbs."
  • Helton also praised defensive lineman Nick Figueroa's three-sack performance vs. WSU. Helton explained that when looking at Figueroa's junior college tape, he saw "physical toughness, a discipline about his game, a kid that never busted assignments, a team kid ... He just had all the intangibles."
  • USC's offense looked unstoppable in the first half on Sunday, but only managed 3 points in the second half. Offensive coordinator Graham Harrell noted, "When you get up early, sometimes it's hard to keep the energy up, and I think that's probably what happened," Harrell said. "But obviously, we're happy to be 4-0."
  • Helton announced two season-ending injuries: defensive back Greg Johnson (meniscus) and tight end Jude Wolfe (broken bone in foot). ILB Ralen Goforth (foot) practiced on Monday after missing time. OL Liam Jimmons (elbow) did not practice yesterday.
  • Helton also addressed ILB Palaie Gaoteote's decision to enter the transfer portal. "Obviously, as a head coach, you can't really do anything to stop it, but I've always looked at these situations in a matter of being supportive," he said. "Went through the pros of staying and left the door open. We'll support him through it, and I hope he's back with us next semester."
  • Looking ahead to Saturday's game, Helton reflected on the rivalry between USC and UCLA. "It's special because you usually look at rivalries and they're within the same state, maybe," he said. "This is different because we all live together. We all grew up together. We all were recruited by both teams. We know each other, have relationships. So it's a special contest."
  • USC wide receiver Gary Bryant Jr., who had a career-high 4 catches vs. WSU, is excited to play in his first Crosstown Showdown. "It's definitely exciting just knowing the history behind it," he said. "Obviously it's going to be different experience without there being fans, but just being out there on the field with the guys is definitely fun."
  • Helton had high praise for UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson, calling him "probably the best creator in our league." "When bad plays happen, he finds a way to make them great," Helton continued.