Clay Helton

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USC TE Daniel Imatorbhebhe “doubtful” for Texas game

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USC’s win over Stanford this weekend showed the Trojans may be prepared to live up to the offseason hype following a red-hot finish to the 2016 season, but the Trojans offense could be without a key player for at least one more week.

Tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe is said to be doubtful for the Trojans this week when the Texas Longhorns make a trip to the Coliseum. USC head coach Clay Helton announced the latest injury status for his tight end during a conference call on Sunday, and Helton reportedly contemplated the possibility of shutting Imatorbhebhe down until he is ready to rejoin the team. A hip injury is to blame.

Imatorbhebhe caught one pass for 12 yards in USC’s season-opening win against Western Michigan. He sat out of the Week 2 Pac-12 battle with Stanford. Last season, he was responsible for 17 receptions and 250 yards and four touchdowns, including five receptions for 78 yards and a touchdown in a key upset of Washington.

Helton also announced the Trojans will be without redshirt freshman kicker Michael Brown due to a torn ACL. The Trojans will give place kicker Chase McGrath the kickoff duties moving forward.

Helmet sticker to Reign of Troy.

Saban, Meyer, Harbaugh, Swinney and more among 19 Dodd Trophy watch list candidates

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When you really think about it, a watch list for a college football award is nothing more than a way to keep public relations staffers in college football programs busy this summer. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it is nice to have a number of key players for the upcoming season highlighted whenever possible (unless you are a Big Ten team going to Big Ten media days). But a watch list is generally pretty pointles sin the long run for most awards. This is especially true for a watch list of college football coaches.

The Dodd Trophy watch list was released today with a list of 19 coaches from many of the top programs around the country. Yep, a watch list for head coaches. Silly, right? It really is the easiest watch list to put together.

The award watch list, compiled by the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, includes four coaches from the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC, two coaches from the Big 12 and one from the American Athletic Conference. You know all of the names, like national championship coaches Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, and Dabo Swinney; household names like Jim Harbaugh, Mark Richt, Bill Snyder, and Chris Petersen; and conference championship coaches like David Shaw, James Franklin.

Some notable names not on the list? How about Jimbo Fisher of Florida State? Fisher has a playoff contender in Tallahassee and is the ACC favorite. He also has a national championship ring. Not having Fisher on a preseason watch list for top coaches seems like a bad oversight. Not having new Big 12 coaches Tom Herman (Texas) and Lincoln Riley (Oklahoma) also feels like a swing and a miss if pulling together a list of potential coach of the year candidates. If we are not going to just list all 130 head coaches in FBS, it seems silly to have such a weird collection of watch list candidates when Butch Jones is on the list.

Five coaches on the watch list are former winners of the Dodd Trophy; Snyder, Petersen, Swinney, Saban, and Paul Johnson. Paul Chryst, Ken Niumatalolo, and Petersen were finalists for the award last season as well.

2017 Dodd Trophy Watch List

  • Paul Chryst, Wisconsin
  • James Franklin, Penn State
  • Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech
  • Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
  • Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
  • Clay Helton, USC
  • Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
  • Butch Jones, Tennessee
  • Gus Malzahn, Auburn
  • Jim McElwain, Florida
  • Urban Meyer, Ohio State
  • Ken Niumatalolo, Navy
  • Chris Petersen, Washington
  • Mark Richt, Miami
  • Nick Saban, Alabama
  • David Shaw, Stanford
  • Bill Snyder, Kansas State
  • Dabo Swinney, Clemson
  • Kyle Whittingham, Utah

USC suspends LB Jabari Ruffin

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A violation of team rules has landed USC defensive end Jabari Ruffin an indefinite suspension from the program.

On Sunday, USC head coach Clay Helton announced the suspension of Ruffin, but he offered no insight on when Ruffin may be welcomed back to the program. Ruffin also did not shed any details on why Ruffin has been suspended.

”Don’t have a crystal ball on if and when he could return.”

Ruffin has played in six games this season. You may remember he was ejected from the season opener for stomping on an Alabama player. That act also landed him a suspension from Helton.

At this point, it would appear Ruffin is in the dog house for a good amount of time.

USC suspends crotch-stomping Jabari Ruffin for one half vs. Utah State

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USC was trampled by top-ranked Alabama in Arlington Saturday night, but one of the most discussed moments of the game may have been the stomping of Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick from the cleat of USC linebacker Jabari Ruffin in the second quarter. It was one of a handful of ugly incidents seen around the college football landscape on the opening weekend, and it led to an ejection from the official standing just feet away. On Sunday, it was announced Ruffin will be missing a little more playing time as well.

USC head coach Clay Helton informed the media the Trojans will suspend Ruffin for the first half of their next game and have him write a formal written apology for his actions.

I almost wondered if Ruffin would have to stay after practice and write 500 times on a chalkboard, “I shall not stomp on opposing players.”

CFT Previews: Holiday Bowl

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WHO: No. 25 USC (8-5) vs. Wisconsin (9-3)
WHAT: The 38th Holiday Bowl
WHERE: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
WHEN: 10:30 p.m. ET, Dec. 30 on ESPN
THE SKINNY: At one point this season it looked as though USC could have imploded. The firing of Steve Sarkisian five weeks into the season could have made for a messy season, but Clay Helton has managed to keep the Trojans going and made sure they played for the Pac-12 championship they were chosen to win back during media days. It was quite a roller coaster to get there that saw back-to-back losses in a coaching transition, a blowout win of Utah, a blowout loss at Oregon and a dominating victory against UCLA to clinch the Pac-12 South. Although USC went 0-2 against Stanford this year, the Trojans proved to be a dangerous team with Cody Kessler throwing 28 touchdowns with just six interceptions thrown and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster racking up 1,389 yards and 10 touchdowns. Junior linebacker Su’a Cravens and freshman linebacker Cameron Smith showed the legacy at the position should continue to thrive after the two led the team in tackles this fall.

USC will look for its third straight bowl victory, and second under Helton. To do that the Trojans must take out Wisconsin from the Big Ten. The Badgers have had a rough time in bowl games played in California since the turn of the century. Wisconsin lost three straight Rose Bowls from 2010 through 2013. Now they move to San Diego this postseason looking to buck that trend. In year one under Paul Chryst, the Badgers turned in a sneaky decent season with a 9-3 record on the strength of one of the top defensive showings this season. Wisconsin allowed just 97.9 yards per game on the ground and 169.2 passing yards per game. That helped fuel Wisconsin’s defense, anchored by senior linebacker Joe Schobert, allowing just 13.1 points per game to lead the nation.

Running the football tends to be the recipe for success in Madison, but the status of top running back Corey Clement is a concern. Clement is working through a sports hernia injury and hopes to play a key role in Wisconsin’s game plan against the Trojans. If Clement is not able to carry the football much, the Badgers still have Dare Ogunbowale to help out after rushing for 769 yards and seven touchdowns this season. Wisconsin may have won nine games, with close losses to Iowa and Northwestern, but what happens against one fo the most athletic teams they have faced this season? Alabama steamrolled Wisconsin in Week 1. USC won’t do that, but the Trojans may have a chance to make some plays even against this solid Wisconsin defense.

THE PREDICTION: USC 26, Wisconsin 23