Clay Helton takes over USC play-calling duties, offensive line coach fired as Trojans struggle

Changes are coming for USC’s football staff following a 38-35 loss to Arizona State that dropped the Trojans to 4-4 on the season. On Monday, coach Clay Helton announced two major shifts. The first is that he will take over game day play-calling duties, though offensive coordinator Tee Martin will keep his title while continuing to oversee the wide receivers and recruiting. The second is that offensive line coach Neil Callaway has been relieved of his duties. Running backs coach Tim Drevno will take over the offensive line going forward. 

“I felt it was an appropriate time to become more involved in the offense as we continue to develop our team for the future,” said Helton in a release from the school.  “Tee and I have had conversations about this decision and he was supportive.  He has done a tremendous job here.  He will stay involved with the offense as he remains the offensive coordinator, helps put together our practice and game plans and serves as my offensive eyes during games.

“I want to thank Neil for all his hard work at USC.  He is an outstanding coach and a great friend.  I wish him nothing but the best in the future.”

USC entered the Arizona State game with a lengthy injured list and was starting backup quarterback Jack Sears. Though Sears played well, given the circumstances, the Trojans have struggled to establish the running game all season. Furthermore, pass protection has been shaky, an issue with both the offensive line and the running backs. 

The loss to the Sun Devils dropped USC to 3-3 in conference play and 4-4 on the year. Given how well Utah has been playing in the past month, a Pac-12 South title is looking less and less likely by the week. There’s not much Helton can do about the onslaught of injuries, but it’ll be interesting to see if mid-season moves like these make any type of impact moving forward. 

Helton has led 10-win efforts in his first two full seasons as the Trojans head coach, guiding his teams to the Rose Bowl and Cotton Bowl, respectively. However, if he’s switching things up now, it’s fair to wonder how much internal pressure he’s facing. 

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