USC trending upward on the field despite quarterback change, athletic director resignation

With the news this week that Lynn Swann resigned as USC's athletic director, the conversation surrounding the future of the football program has focused back on the pressure for Clay Helton and the Trojans to win in 2019. 

Luckily, this week has brought more optimism regarding the ceiling for USC following a 45-20 win against Stanford that saw freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis and the Trojans storm back from a 17-3 second quarter deficit with some of the best football that we've seen from this program in the last two years. Slovis finished the game with 377 yards and three touchdowns on 28-of-33 passing, and the defense came up with key stops in the second half that prevented Saturday night's contest from being as uncomfortably close as the season-opening win against Fresno State

But what does the Stanford win mean for Clay Helton, and can this offensive success continue against a rigorous schedule that features BYU, Utah, Washington and Notre Dame serving as the next four opponents? Ryan Abraham of joined Barton Simmons and I on the Cover 3 Podcast this week to take a look at some of the changes that have contributed to the success we have seen -- and might see -- from the Trojans the rest of the 2019 season. 

The keys, according to Ryan, have included not only the hire of Graham Harrell as offensive coordinator and abandoning a "gumbo" offense that was a mix-and-match of different pro-style philosophies, but also a new strength and conditioning program that can help re-establish an edge in the trenches. USC has always had one of the most talented rosters in the country, but without a physicality to impose its will on opponents, that talent gap will be negligible against teams like Utah and Washington. 

Check out the latest episode of the Cover 3 Podcast below (subscribe and look for more episodes here) where we discuss USC along with Stanford's identity crisis, visitor locker room experiences and Gus Malzahn's dig at Alabama over kickoff times. 

CBS Sports Writer

Chip Patterson has spent his young career covering college sports from the Old North State. He's been writing and talking about football and basketball for CBS Sports since 2010. You may have heard him... Full Bio

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