For months I’ve been saying that Helton needed to just scrap his offensive system and hire someone capable of building something new from the ground up. Kingsbury will do that. Now Helton just has to get out of his new offensive coordinator’s way and let the man work his magic.
While Kingsbury went just 35-40 as the head coach at Texas Tech, his offenses were off-the-charts. The Red Raiders finished first nationally in total offense in 2016, and finished in the top 11 for six consecutive years. This year, Tech was 12th in total offense (485.2 yards per game) and 16th in scoring offense (37.3 points per game).
Kingsbury will immediately inherit more talent than he’s ever had. USC has a wealth of receiving talent with guys like Tyler Vaughns, Michael Pittman Jr., Amon-Ra St. Brown and speedster Velus Jones, plus a stellar crop of recruits. And, of course, he has the highly-touted JT Daniels under center. Oh, and he’ll have the most talented running back he’s ever coached in Stephen Carr, when the junior-to-be finally gets healthy.
Helton and USC struggled mightily on offense this season, finishing 82nd in total offense (382.5 yards per game) and 91st in scoring offense (26.1 points per game). That was simply unacceptable given the talent the team possessed. The Trojans never made second-half adjustments, struggled late in games and never seemed to put opponents away. Kingsbury won’t make the same mistake, as his foot never comes off the gas.
USC’s offensive struggles put pressure on a defense that was ravaged by injuries to key players. While defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast didn’t have a great season, a good offense would certainly help his unit out a ton. If Swann and Helton are sticking with Pendergast yet getting a guy like Kingsbury, then it’s clear they agree the defensive scheme wasn’t the problem.
Clay Helton and USC went 5-7 this season and missed a bowl game for the first time since 2000. I thought he should have been fired after such an awful campaign. I’m still not convinced he can turn things around and lead USC back to a championship level. That said, hiring an offensive guru like Kingsbury and completely changing things on that side of the ball is an indication that he’s willing to adapt. That’s a big victory for USC’s football program.
Hiring Kingsbury is the first move in years that shows USC might be finally taking itself seriously as a football power. It’s the kind of addition the big boys of the sport make. It’s the kind of move USC should have always been making.
If this hire goes down, it could be the first step in announcing USC’s return as one of college football’s elite programs.