Clay Helton began his weekly teleconference on Sunday evening by acknowledging one of USC’s characteristics of the early season.
“You’re very, very happy again when you see a team finishing in the fourth quarter,” said Helton, the Trojans’ coach, “That’s kind of been our hallmark.”
The Trojans have either trailed or been tied in the fourth quarter in three of their four games this month, including their 30-20 victory over Cal on Saturday. With late surges, they have managed to remain unbeaten, outscoring opponents 72-38 after three quarters.
For USC, the trend might need to be short-lived.
Helton hoped they might start scoring a little earlier on Friday at Washington State, at least to keep pace.
“They’re a start-fast team,” Helton said.
The Cougars, also 4-0 overall and ranked No. 16 in the Associated Press poll, have featured one of the highest-scoring offenses in the nation, and been able to find the end zone in the first half. Helton called it a “major strength for” Coach Mike Leach’s pass-happy bunch.
Through four weeks, Washington State has averaged 24 points per game before halftime. Only five other FBS teams put up more in the first two quarters.
For a comparison, USC has averaged 12 points per game in the first half.
Helton said a fast start would be an emphasis in preparation for the Friday night game.
Washington State, he said, is a challenge early in games largely because of Luke Falk, its record-setting passer and “probably the most efficient quarterback” in the Pac-12.
Falk has completed a nation-leading 77 percent of his passes for 1,378 yards and 14 touchdowns with one interception and quickly delivers his throws.
“The whole thing runs through the quarterback,” Helton said.
TAKING A KNEE
More players in the NFL took a knee during the national anthem on Sunday after President Donald Trump said days earlier that players should be fired by their owners for kneeling.
Helton said he had not addressed the national…