After a premature report last week, USC’s biggest win of the 2018 season came earlier this week when, it was officially announced that former Texas Tech Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury has taken the job as the Trojans offensive coordinator, replacing Tee Martin. Kingsbury was arguably the most sought after coach in the entire football world, spanning from offense hungry power five schools, to the offensive mastermind Sean McVay and the Los Angeles Rams. This hire by Clay Helton represents a radical change, a must needed one, from Clay Helton and his offensive ideology. After a disappointing 5-7 season, Helton got the opportunity to change up his staff for one last make or break season.
Kingsbury, as an offensive coordinator brings a lot to the table. His “Air-Raid” offense has lit up scoreboards at Houston, torched the SEC at Texas A&M, and put up big numbers in the Big 12 at Texas Tech. Players like Johnny Manziel and Patrick Mahomes watched their college careers flourish under Kingsbury’s leadership and play calling. Manziel threw for 3,706 yards and 26 touchdowns ran for 1,410 yards and 21 touchdowns, and won the Heisman in his lone year under Kingsbury’s tutelage.
Mahomes played three years under Kingsbury and threw for 93 touchdowns, 11,252 yards, and only 29 interceptions. Kingsbury’s offense also propelled both of those star college quarterbacks to the NFL, Mahomes going 10th overall and Manziel going 22nd overall in the NFL Draft. Kingsbury himself was a star college quarterback on Mike Leach’s Texas Tech Red Raiders, throwing for over 12,000 yards and throwing for 95 touchdowns. Kingsbury coached under West Virginia head coach Dana Holgerson and Arizona head coach Kevin Sumlin at Houston and Texas A&M, so Kingsbury has played and coached under college football’s brightest offensive minds.
The hiring of Kingsbury bodes well for freshman quarterback J.T. Daniels. Daniels was a four-star quarterback, ranked as the third best pocket passing quarterback in his class by ESPN. Daniels started 11 games his freshman year at USC, throwing for 2,661 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. Daniels will be coming back with a year of experience under his belt, with almost all of his weapons returning. Wide receivers Amon-Ra St. Brown, Michael Pittman Jr., and Tyler Vaughns are all returning, and running back Stephen Carr will be coming off of an injury prone season, so Kingsbury and Daniels will have an abundance of weapons returning. Daniels will see his numbers benefit greatly from the Air-Raid offense, potentially having three receivers and a running-back who all can make big plays whenever they touch the football.
This hire signals a turning point for head coach Clay Helton. Helton is almost running out of time to turn things around at USC and the hiring of Kingsbury could be his last resort. If this does not work and the Trojans continue to struggle, there is a good chance that the 2019 season will be Helton’s last. This move is a necessary one made by Helton, who is attempting to save his job. For Kingsbury, this move is a no brainer. More lucrative suitors like the NFL might have come calling, but coming into a job like USC, who already has an abundance of offensive talent, is a perfect way to rejuvenate is college coaching career, maybe even lining himself up to be the next head coach of USC. The Kingsbury hire is a perfect fit, now its time to see Helton, Kingsbury, and the offense get on the same page and light up the Pac-12 scoreboards.