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2020 UCLA Thursday: Trojans Back to Full Strength

Dec 10, 2020

Game Notes vs. UCLA (PDF)

Every member of the USC football team has tested negative for COVID-19, so the team should be back to full strength for the regular season finale vs. UCLA.

  • USC head coach Clay Helton took a moment to thank the USC medical team and LA County for guiding the team throughout the season. "It's a credit to them, with the guidance they gave us and the protocols in place, to have four positive tests and immediately shut it down," Helton said.
     
  • On the injury front, OL Liam Jimmons (elbow) and ILB Ralen Goforth (foot) have both been practicing and are expected to play vs. UCLA. CB Dorian Hewett is out (concussion).
     
  • CB Greg Johnson underwent season-ending surgery for a meniscus tear, so Max Williams will start at nickel. "Max has just had a tremendous season and a really consistent season," Helton noted.
     
  • Helton also praised CB Isaac Taylor-Stuart, who saw an expanded role last week. "There's no dropoff of production, Helton said. "So it gives us an opportunity to give [Olaijah Griffin] a break or give Chris [Steele] a break."
     
  • USC's defense will need to play well to stop a "brilliant offensive mind" in UCLA head coach Chip Kelly. "Everybody sees him as a spread guy, a tempo guy, but he's really one of the better run game coaches there are in college football," Helton explained. "Eight of the last 13 games, they've rushed for 200 yards or more."
     
  • Helton also said UCLA is more talented than its 3-2 record suggests. "If you look earlier in the season, they had some turnover issues. I think they're minus-6 total right now," he said. "As we look at the tape, you see a really talented football team that kind of shot itself in the foot with turnovers. They could easily be undefeated right now."
     
  • Should the Trojans defeat the Bruins this Saturday, they'll clinch the Pac-12 South title and host the Pac-12 Championship Game next weekend. But Helton is wisely keeping his team focused on the task at hand. "The reality is, everybody knows it, but the last thing that I told them last night was to keep the 1-0 mentality that we've had each and every week," Helton said. "Being human, you think about scenarios of what next week could look like ... but the fact of the matter is, nothing matters other than this Saturday."
     
  • This Saturday marks the latest installment in a historic crosstown rivalry, and despite the lack of students on campus or fans in the stands, the Trojans are still experiencing the fanfare. The team will have the Victory Bell at practice today and Helton is attending a Trojan Knights event today as they keep watch over USC's Tommy Trojan statue.