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JUST SAYIN' . . . ARIZONA WEEK

The world of college football is in a pretty crazy place as we hit midseason when USC has become one of the more stable programs around. Just like that. Who knew. We're Just Sayin'.

So you think you've seen everything and then it's come to this. When you look at USC's two archrivals this week, UCLA and Notre Dame, the only program of the three that seems on the upswing, the only program where they're not organizing this week, demanding actually, that the clueless coach be fired immediately and what the heck is wrong with the AD and the university president not to see that, is USC.

We're Just Sayin'.

*** You just never know until they play the games each week. Which is why Irish fans are wondering if they could possibly go 2-10, or will they be able to beat Army -- or Stanford . . . Just Sayin'.

*** And UCLA? If Josh Rosen doesn't play this week, the consensus among Bruin fans seems to be Washington State will beat the Bruins by three TDs on the way to what could be a 3-9 final tally in Westwood for currently-in-fifth-place-in-the-Pac-12-South UCLA  . . . Just Sayin'

*** And at both places, if you're a coordinator, you're fired too . . . Just Sayin'. 

*** So as improbable as it would have seemed just two weeks ago, Clay Helton's best job insurance policy might be in the hands of those two blue-and-gold archrivals . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Nor is that just for their current misery but for the fact that the Bruins and the Irish are USC's final two games and if two head coaches with such seeming success as Brian Kelly and Jim Mora in their combined 12 years at UCLA and ND can have those programs so screwed up, well, Clay's just a rookie at screwing things up . . . Just Sayin'

*** And with each passing week, USC is looking a bit less screwed-up, although critics tell us now those back-to-back wins over ranked Arizona State and Colorado don't mean anything. They weren't any good even if ASU is still ranked and with Colorado sits atop the Pac-12 South with 2-1 records, same as Utah's . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Had that USC-Utah game ended 17 seconds sooner, USC would have beaten all three teams tied for the Pac-12 South lead in succeeding weeks . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Just don't tell ESPN. Checked out their Pac-12 Power Rankings this week and someone must not have told ranker Kevin Gemmell, who says "if you don't like where you're ranked, play better" but still has USC ranked No. 6 in the Pac-12 behind both Arizona State and Colorado, teams USC is way better than no matter the scores. They're his No. 3 and No. 4 teams behind Washington and Utah. Not sure what Kevin wants the Trojans to do although he did say he was more impressed with USC's defense against the Buffs, maybe missing the 539 yards USC's offense racked up. Hey Kevin, you want to not hear these kinds of comments, maybe you could try ranking 'em better . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Not that Kevin is alone here. If you looked at the AP and Coaches Polls this week and awarded USC just the points of the two teams that USC beat the past two weeks, USC would have 75 points in the AP Poll, good enough for No. 26. And in the Coaches Poll, USC would have 123 points, good for a No. 24 ranking . . . Just Sayin'.   

*** Back to coaching here. It shouldn't have taken this long, but with three TD passes to the tight ends Saturday, we're starting to get a taste of the "gumbo" Tee Martin promised this spring and summer when the Trojans were talking about incorporating some of the best elements of Western Kentucky's cutting-edge offense. And now they have . . . Just Sayin'

*** And despite what they say about "too many cooks spoiling the broth," clearly the addition of the quick-thinking, quick-reacting, quick-handed and quick-footed Sam Darnold to the mix has made it possible to serve up what Tee, Clay and Tyson Helton were hoping to have on the menu . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Although having an O-line that doesn't make things more difficult by jumping and moving and whiffing or an entire offense that goes a full 60 minutes without a single penalty as it did Saturday has to help here . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Now about that fumbling. For Darnold, that's a personal thing that experience and game-awareness will have to bring. Contact in practice is not going to help him because he's not going to get it. For Justin Davis, however, just a tad more high-speed practice competition with "the goods on goods" as Clay likes to say, might be the way to go . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Thinking this is the game that Ronald Jones finally gets untracked with Justin out for the next three weeks or so with that high ankle sprain . . .  couldn't happen at a better time . . . Just Sayin'.

*** If the offense can keep getting better, can eliminate the turnovers and get more than three TDs out of the 539 yards against Colorado and more than two TDs from 466 yards at Utah, USC should be in decent shape the next three games against Arizona, Cal and Oregon with a defense that seems to have figured out how to contain the high-speed Pac-12 spreads . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Having the offense on the field for 80 plays, as it was against CU, and 32:18 of possession time, can help the USC defense as much here as Clancy Pendergast expanding the number of defenders getting into the game . . . Just Sayin;.

*** But if there's one thing that matters more than the "gumbo" recipe and the defensive numbers and limiting turnovers and Sam changing what the offense can and will do and Clay & Co. getting a feel for things six games in, the single-most important thing that's happened in this first half of the season was the way a 1-3 team did not pack it in. They could have. But they didn't. Good for all of them, coaches and players. Now they have to bring Trojan fans along with them . . . Just Sayin'.   

 You can follow me on Twitter at @dweber3440 or email me at weber@uscfootball.com.

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