USC faced with penalty problems despite win over Arizona
By Joey Kaufman
In its 49-35 victory over Arizona on Saturday night, USC watched its penalty total grow to where even Clay Helton, its mild-mannered coach, was called for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Early in the third quarter, Helton, visibly frustrated, stormed several yards onto the Coliseum turf to protest a fumble and holler at the officials, pointing at a video board that was showing a replay of the sequence.
Video: USC holds off late Arizona comeback
Photos: USC defeats Arizona 49-35 in NCAA college football game
USC football holds off Arizona, taking command of Pac-12 South race
Khalil Tate, the Wildcats’ quarterback, had appeared to fumble, with the ball stripped loose before his knee had touched the grass, but he was initially ruled down.
Replay review ultimately overturned the call, and USC, which had recovered the fumble, was given possession.
Still, Helton was flagged, because he ran too far onto the field.
“That’s on me,” Helton said.
Against Arizona, the Trojans were penalized a season-high 14 times for 123 yards, including the unsportsmanlike conduct call on Helton. Among their 14 penalties were five for holding, three for personal fouls, two for unsportsmanlike conduct, two for false starts, one for pass interference and one for offsides.
Some were particularly costly. A holding penalty by Tyler Vaughns on the Trojans’ second drive of the game negated a possible 98-yard touchdown run by Ronald Jones.
Asked Sunday during a teleconference with reporters what he thought attributed to the high total, Helton said, “Sometimes you’re going to get calls, sometimes you’re not, and in that game, we didn’t get the calls.”
“One of the things, I think, a good team does,” he added, “is overcoming penalties, […]