Clay Helton says USC is ready for shortened season

In a wide-ranging coach media call hosted by the Pac-12 Conference, the University of Southern California hopes to regain its football glory with head coach Clay Helton getting his team physically prepared for their sudden return to the field, all while making sure the players are healthy and following safety protocols.  

“It is an exciting time for our team, our staff, and our fans,” Helton said in his opening statement about returning to play. 

Helton told reporters that the team had been working in groups since the summer to keep players in shape and sharpen their skills.

“For us now, it moves on. We have been extremely proactive since July 6 trying to work on getting our kids in functional football shape,” Helton said. “I want to thank the NCAA for the 12 hours they gave us to be able to work with our kids specifically in skill development and our coaches actively work with our kids in drill work that really prepares them for this upcoming season.”

Right now the Trojans are in the middle of organized team activities (OTAs) and trying to implement schemes with the new coaching staff. Helton hopes the team responds well to the systems as they will begin training camp this Friday, Oct. 9. Camps will continue all the way up to their first matchup against the Arizona State Sun Devils on Nov. 7 at 9 a.m.

“With a new defensive coordinator [Todd Orlando] that we have, a new special teams coordinator [Sean Snyder], and going into year two under coach [Graham] Harrell offensive system, it’s a really important time for us,” Helton said. “We’ve used these last two weeks to be able to implement those systems leading up to training camp.” 

The Pac-12 has juggled with the idea of a 9 a.m. PT kickoff in the past, which may be the conference’s effort to catch East coast eyes. 

“I think for us as a staff, as coaches, and as players, you got to remember how grateful and appreciative we are to even play the game first,” Helton said. “To have this opportunity we are all excited about. There wasn’t too long along we were sitting watching other teams play and it hurt your soul. For us, it’s just put the ball down. We don’t care what day it is, what time it is. We just want to play the game we love.”

Helton hopes they get national attention with this game against a good Arizona State team led by third-year head coach Herm Edwards and how they want to play “on the biggest stage with the brightest lights.”

As eager as the Trojans are to get to play an official down when asked about how practice at USC will work under the local city and state guidelines, the team is allowed 75 men on a field at a time, but all other football activities will run the same.

“We are actively going to be able to work together to be able to have contact,” Helton said. “So you’re gonna have to sue multiple fields, teams may have to, depending on their situations throughout the state of California, they may have to have a couple of practices going on at the same time. But as far as what you are doing in practice, that is not going to change.”

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