2019 Pac-12 Football Media Day: USC's head coach Clay Helton podium session

2019 Pac-12 Football Media Day: USC's head coach Clay Helton podium session



all righty hey guys great to see everybody that's always my favorite time of year coming here and it means it's football season getting ready to get started again it's been a great offseason for our football program coming off of last year correcting some mistakes in spring and getting ready to get 25 more practices to continue instituting a new offensive scheme a simplified defensive scheme and continue create special teams effort I've got two tremendous football players here today as well as tremendous people in Michael Pittman our wide receiver and Christian director our defensive end and with that I'll answer any questions that you have everyone's got a lot of football questions but first I wanted to lead off with Austin Jackson in the his whole situation how is the team sort of come to his side and supported him through donating yeah what a great story Austin Jackson is you know his sister autumn needed a bone-marrow transplant and to be a perfect match for her and had that opportunity to help her get healthy was this a blessing from God and that's what it is and we're so glad that Austin got that opportunity over the summer to be able to do that he's recovering from right now he's back with us at school and I know he's looking forward to not only his recovery but most importantly his sisters right now he's training to get in the best football shape possible we'll see where he is at the start of training camp and we've been through this scenario before if you were with guys that had been out of football for a little big remember at door II had been out with track and we kind of eased him along in his Thorpe Award winning season to where you know it was a little bit slower pace well see where Austin is come next week with it and and then go from there but we won't put him fully in until we know he's a hundred percent yeah you know I think one of the most important things one of the things my dad has always taught me is how important relationships are and to never burn bridges you know gentlemen make decisions and people make decisions in life and and you honor that decision and you support that decision and know you're always there for and you know we're very fortunate to have great relationships with Bru and with Chris and they have a special place in their heart for USC and what it can what they can do for our team and what USC can do for them and have the opportunity to welcome both those men into our program and them be will be major contributors force in the future is a special thing so the biggest thing I learned from it is how important relationships are and Trust is you know right now dan we're going through the waiver process with the NCAA as far as whether they'll be eligible to play or not it's not been finalized I don't have a timetable forward because it's not on it's an NCAA decision hopefully we'll know something before game 1 I anticipate that but we're in that process right now it's the same process for both yes it's basically you surpris waiver to the NCAA and they make they make a decision on it oh you know I've known Brewer and his family for a long time we live about three miles apart to be honest with you and and what a fabulous gentleman and what a fabulous family and everybody's story is different and this transfer portal that we've had that's the one thing that going into it I realize that each story in each case is going to be different and you're dealing with 18 to 21 year olds that have situations in their life that that they need to figure out for themselves of what's best for them and and that takes time and the greatest gift we can give somebody is our time and to help them through the process to guide them and to support them and if you do that if you do that that relationship stays intact and you know brew and I have had a great relationship for many years and when he came back it didn't surprise me because I know how special USC is to him I know how special being in Los Angeles California is for him and you know I welcome him back with open arms and glad he's with us just just the same thing that I felt and believed in that we had a unique opportunity for him and and once that opportunity came to fruition that we had an opening that that I truly believed it was a great opportunity for him that not only on the field but off you know Chris chris is a great student athlete and I know how important education was too and I also thought the timing was was great for him especially when you look at the players that we were losing off the last year's team the opportunity to compete in a hurry and see where he's at I thought it would be unique to him and a great timing for him and he saw the same thing and he's another kid that has always had the USC there's been a special place in his heart obviously his family's right from here and dad is right here and he's always he's always been ultra respectful to myself or staff and when he came back it was just it felt natural and comfortable to him that it was the right time in the right place for him glad ya you know I the one thing going into it I thought that I reminded myself that people are there 18 to 21 years old and each story's different he take valus Jones for instance surveillances got a family situation at home with a grandfather in ICU I you know and how much he loves his family and how a hard time it was for his family and he needed to figure things out for himself and see what was best for him and at the end of the day came to to agree with that you know USC and getting his degree and being here with his brothers and playing for his brothers was important to him and what what he wanted and and he got the blessing of his family and it was great yeah and then there's other situations that young men get a degree and and they want to garner a bigger role and a grander experience and and and welcome that I asked him to do one thing get their degree and so I think each case is different and the greatest gift you can give somebody is your time and I felt like going in knowing that there would be a ton of people put their name in the transfer portal I think we were over 2500 for about 300 spots that you are going to need to help young men and that's part of our job as coaches is to be able to guide and teach and help young people if I had to say to one word and I'd say accountability accountability to each other accountability to our fundamentals accountability to protecting the ball taking the ball away and the accountability of not having penalties those are the things that cost us games last year so if there's one word I would say accountability well like I said I said each case is different and there's certain situations that when a player leaves its it might be best for him and you know had that discussion with them that hey if we choose to go this we are I'm gonna help you in any way I can't find help you find the right place but it's your opportunity to have the chance to find the best place for you and we'll find the next opportunity for somebody to fill that role and then there's situations that I think kids need time and there were some kids on a football team that needed time and I wanted to make sure I granted that so I didn't just lay down a hard line rule of oh if if you put your name in the portal you're not a Trojan he each case was different and I wanted to help each kid yes you know initially I'll get the final injury report as of next week you know we have a couple kids that are coming off surgery that'll be right really close by you know Matt think it is coming off a minor knee surgery that he should be he should be ready by the time of camp it'll be really really close and a couple of kids with a couple calf poles and things I'll have a better idea for you we still got you know basically another week worth the rehab and a week's time a lot of things can happen so I don't want to give you anything false Daniel is doing well Daniel is this year going to focus on finalizing his master's degree as well as continuing to train but he's doing well he won't he won't be with us this season but is doing well I look forward to watching him play in the 2020 season I really do right now you know YK is in the transfer portal right now and we'll see where that goes we'll see where that goes YK is finding out what's the best situation for him and we're doing the same you said some names yeah yes Trey has a family situation back at home that he put his name in the portal that he may need to garner a better opportunity closer to home and then Jalen is Jalen fell just short of eligibility requirements for transfer regulations fellini Delaney fell just short of eligibility requirements also yeah you know the probably the most important thing as a leader is that when you have good seasons like a rose bowl year and a pac-12 championship here that that you give the accolades to the people that are around you they got you there and when you have a five and seven season that you own it and you own it yourself as the leader and you look at yourself truthfully of what you have to do to get better you can either hide your head in the sand or you can address the issues have very brutally honest conversations with the men around you of how to get better and and Institute that and that was the biggest thing the address issues to make changes that needed to be changed to put a point of emphasis on some things that I felt beat us last year make those Corrections and now move on to the 2019 season well it it was important for a football team to understand how we got beat especially down the stretch in those last four games by seven points or less in each one of those games it was nothing that an opponent did we beat ourselves you know when you turn the ball over two times in the red zone at Cal and two times in the red zone at Notre Dame you have critical penalties down the stretch you don't acquire turnovers we did some things with lack of fundamentals that that make you just an average football team rather than what you can become and for me that's where that's my job and that's what I told myself going in that I'm gonna hire the best coordinators that fit what we want to do offensively defensively in special teams and I'm gonna focus on what wins football games and I'm gonna have a passion towards that I'm gonna make sure our players feel that because when they feel that they know there's a sense of urgency and importance and it's demanded of them so yes the the heat got turned up a little bit in the spring and I felt it was necessary I thought her kids thrived off of it I thought they enjoyed it and at the end of the day kids loved to be coached and they loved to be coached hard you know I talked to other coaches especially going through the hiring process and one that's some of the best advice I got you know I the first hire you know with cliff was such had to have a sense of urgency because of the early signing period but the other thing that that came about in hiring gram-gram was always at the top of my list but they had the availability did not have the rush because we had about 90% of our class design and really be able to talk to some other people both college and pro there was so much that I learned personally as a coach and being able to acquire a tool or two from each and every guy that I talked to that was some of the best recommendation I got was take your time in the process don't worry about Oh everybody wants to know who it is right now learn from other people I think you may be playing against them one day and be able to garner garner a tool or two and that whole process I got a lot out of some of the best advice I was giving us don't worry about popular opinion do what you believe in and then take the time to go through the process and get the not only the right guy but to learn a lot of valuable material along the way how simple college football can be and that it's that we all have grand ideas and grand schemes but it's not what we know as coaches it's what our players know and to be able to see a devin williams as everybody saw in spring really come alive within the system to be able to see kids like amanda raw and Michael Pittman bounce from outside receiver to inside receiver to learn conceptually it's it's more about the kids mastering their craft and then you tried to out think your opponent it's about them having great fundamentals and technique so I think the greatest thing that he's shown me is is how simple the game can be for the student-athlete and focus on him getting better fundamentally and technique wise rather than trying to out trick somebody yeah really two things one I was very appreciative in Graham and it was one of the things that I saw you could see it in the stat sheets when you come out of North Texas you see them rushing the ball 2,000 yards and then having a top-ten quarterback and when you watch the tape who's Graham takes what the defense gives him if you're gonna line up and load the box he's gonna throw it sixty times and and if he end up dropping eight in plane cover – he's not gonna force the past he's gonna run the ball and let a rusher get 200 yards in a game you know and to be able to see him not script to just play call and train himself during the spring was a unique tool that I really enjoyed and and Clancy did it to where we would just script the personnel groupings and let them call the plays based on the situation played a lot of situational football thought it got not only our players better but it made both play callers better so those are probably the two things that I saw coming out of spring that I enjoy yeah you know I I thought one of the most important hires any head coach can make is their strength and conditioning coach and probably the most important hire to be honest with you we lost a good man and Ivan Louis going to the Seattle Seahawks but to garner Aaron Ausmus who has run two SEC programs has been at SC and run this program and also the the crew that he brought in the assistant coaches that he brought in underneath them had led college programs and to see that that commitment to accountability in there group it has been there's nowhere to hide you know that every day whether you're in the strength and conditioning whether you're with our coaches everybody's accountable and it's been really neat to see an Aaron in his group lead our program May through this point time right now it's been a it's been a really a special time for us it's been a great summer and I can't wait to see the dividends for this fall just true joy you know any time and it wasn't what people I don't I don't think he Minds he's saying this Aaron Ausmus loves his sons and he wasn't living leaving Los Angeles California for any job and leaving his sons and had turned down many jobs and found found a job in strength and conditioning that allowed him to still be in the field but being the equipment side and then the opportunity but he's always been a teacher at heart and to have the opportunity to teach again and to see his enthusiasm and to see his energy and the guys that he's brought in that a lot of times when he hires us to assistance sometimes there's a guessing game is you don't get to see him coach he got to go to those places while in the equipment business and be able to watch those guys train there was no guessing game so he he brought in guys that are truly studs in their profession and just to see his joy of coaching again after that break you could see there's a definite appreciation to what he gets to do on a daily basis well one of the things that there was two situations that stood out to me one was when I got to call the game at Notre Dame towards the end of the season and to see you know in that game plan we kept it extremely simple and to see the effectiveness of the quarterback in that game I think he was like 29 at 32 in the first half and and it really made me feel like wow to be able to spread the field and use all our weapons to try to keep it as simple as possible I think I know this is a direction that we need to go the other thing that I wanted to be able to do is I knew we would be a younger team and there's special athletes like a Devin Williams that's on our team that and in freshman we always get very talented freshmen and arras st. Browne is another one that I wanted to have the availability to have the offense simple enough where freshmen could come in and really contribute at an early at an early time period and to be able to watch this system in the spring it's exactly what I wanted it's picked it up within 3-4 practices and we're ready to go with it and so those are probably the two situations just one having a chance to call a game and be able to see where we could take the offense and then to you know seeing that I didn't want any confusion or hesitation from from our skilled athletes and allowed Devin Williams and kids like himself to really thrive and not be confused not have hesitation but to be able to take the brain out of the process and just let the talent prevail I don't think it is the error rate to be honest with you you know I've watched college football and how it's changing and it you know you look at the teams like Oklahoma you look at the teams like Alabama that have had specific emmos and and now have spread the field more it's not necessarily taking the run away you know it's not throwing the ball 80 times in a game it's more taking what the defense gives you we got a tremendous Vantage in my opinion in the college football game because of where our hash marks are and to be able to attack every inch of the field whether it's vertically horizontally in between the tackles with the run game it's very very important to be able to use all your skill players and not combine them in a box and you've seen teams the best teams in the country let's start to spread out you use that field and use their athletes and and they've proven that they can win national champions we had one not keeping the media out you know I still we've always had a great relationship with the media and always want to be able to help you do your job at all times and that's why we allow we do do media Sunday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday and Saturday and provide two days to be at practice for for thirty minutes you know we're ahead of every other I think standard practice in college football we want to continue to be allowed to have the media do their job but it was something that we felt in postseason play worked very well for us and we wanted to go to I wanted to go to if there's any special requests I always as you've seen in our relationship I'll always be available for you always but I want our student-athletes to be able to concentrate on their job and focus on their job when it's time for them to work and we'll always make access to our media it's always been a great relationship it will continue to and we'll always make Sunday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday and Saturday available five out of the seven days a week we we work with our media relationship thank you yeah you know we had hard conversations I was part of of process he always do exit interviews with your with your seniors and being able to garner information and and you know it's not always great information but to see information that's needed for you to improve and again you can either do one of two things you can either pretend like everything's great and put your head in the sand or you can try to become the best team in the country and be willing to make the changes that are needed and don't have feelings you know that's the one thing I hope you've learned for me I don't have a lot of feelings when it comes to the game I just want our team to be the most successful it could be and whether it's me improving in some areas whether it's our team improving in some areas not only do I listen but the things that I I know will help us all Institute and that's what I've done in this offseason no I know one of the one of the things that I think all great relationships do if you love somebody you tell them the truth and you tell them the hard truth sometimes and the one thing that I've always had here over my 10 years here is great relationships with our players and and I've always told them I'm to be honest and be truthful with you means I love you and I've asked for them the same in return you know if you have a care and concern for myself my family you know tell me and that's why you know I've always had an open-door policy guys will always come in my office they'll always speak their mind and we'll work it out and that's that's why you see we do have great relationships we've got about two minutes remaining with us see then all student athletes and coaches from the South Division will be available for additional one-on-one outside I'm gonna put them a no lying coach's son so I believe big men win championships and I think that obviously skill players can put points on the board but at the end of the day I truly believe the offensive line and defensive line control games and you know one of the things I'm very excited about Dan this the first time a few years I really feel like offensively our offensive line has showed tremendous leadership the Austin Jackson – Jalen Mackenzie the world Andrew Voorhees of the world even the lives of Aaron Tucker's come out of his shell in this offseason this is the group that really have been waiting to sebuah CH them grow up and now they're in their third year and you can see their confidence and them controlling the offense and then probably the strongest group on our defense is our defensive front and I've got one here today that's been an unbelievable leader that's had a tremendous off season in Christian director but the big men are controlling our team right now and that's what you want to see that's the best teams that I have been on the offensive and defensive line have thrived they control the team and they've controlled the line of scrimmage well I thought I thought the 15 practices that we had in the spring if everybody was out there we went to the letter of the law as far as full pad practices as far as tackle practices and we'll do the same in training camp if you ask our players I think they'll tell you is a very physical practice it's been an extremely tough offseason and it'll be it'll be a very physical training camp we'll go to the letter of the law I I will say this I will say this I think every head coach that is smart manages his football team based on wears football team is at we were very healthy in the spring and it allowed us to be to be that ultra physicality and we're in a good position right now to start out that way you're gonna see the opportunity to to be able to have three scrimmage scrimmages that we're gonna play as close to the vest as games as we can I can't wait till August 17th to get in that Coliseum and have our Fall Classic and be able to sit there with our fans in the stands get some performance anxiety split up into two teams put the play clock on and play ball and treat it like an NFL Cyprian game that that's gonna be something that thinks good for our team and Garner's some experience for some young kids if that's not physical if that's not challenging I don't know what is but we're gonna go use every opportunity we can to get better thanks for that question

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