Dylan Hernández: Historic USC Loss Wasn’t the Miracle Donte Williams Needed at the Coliseum | Lifestyles
Well, we know who won’t be the head coach of USC next year.
Donte Williams’ slim chances of remaining in charge of the Trojans beyond this season were dashed Saturday night in a 45-27 loss to Oregon State that was as historic as it was humiliating.
With USC presumably looking for a reputable coach, the assumption was that Williams had to perform a miracle to remove the acting tag from his job description. Instead, he was responsible for another kind of once in a lifetime event, as the Trojans lost to the Beavers in Los Angeles for the first time since 1960.
It didn’t matter whether Williams was extremely likable or her story was inspiring. Whether he preaches responsibility doesn’t matter.
Against the little-regarded Beavers, the spirit of Clay Helton continued to haunt the USC sideline and hover over everything the Trojans have done on the field. They couldn’t run football, and they couldn’t stop the state of Oregon from running it. They couldn’t stop the pass either. They couldn’t attack each other.
The game was an ongoing defensive outage for USC, with Oregon State receivers finding themselves wide open and ball carriers galloping through holes that seemed as wide as Highway 110.
âI coached today,â said Williams.
The Beavers finished with 535 offensive yards, including 322 rushing. The game was not as close as the score suggested, with the Trojans losing to 42-17 at the start of the fourth quarter.
Helton might as well have coached.
Quarterback Kedon Slovis defended Williams by saying, “You’re not going to change in a week.”
Right or wrong, however, is essentially what Williams had to do to beat the other coaching candidates in what should be a comprehensive national search.
That’s not to say Williams doesn’t have a future at USC. The school is expected to do everything possible to retain its best recruiter.
It also doesn’t mean that Williams won’t end up being a coach capable of leading a major program. The former defensive back coach is only 39 years old.
He just won’t be USC’s next head coach.
Williams brushed off the idea that he was taking it too much too soon.
âIt’s what I’ve been doing my whole life,â Williams said. “So no moment will ever be too great. That’s what I did. That’s what I will continue to do.”
Except that the X’s and O’s weren’t the only problems.
He also fumbled with Jaxson Dart’s situation.
A true freshman, Dart performed spectacularly on his college debut a week earlier, leading the Trojans to a comeback victory in Washington state after Slovis was knocked out of the game. Dart limped noticeably during and after the game, but Williams played down the injury and continued to do so in the days that followed.
But on Thursday, 247 Sports reported for the first time, and the Times’ Ryan Kartje confirmed that Dart had undergone surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee.
Williams was elusive on Saturday night when asked about when he learned Dart needed surgery.
“You know what?” Williams said. âI didn’t really know. It was kind of something, he played the whole game. So with the injury he had, he played the whole game last week. So we didn’t think it was wrong. ‘was nothing too bad, and then the next thing you know, he needed a little procedure, and it will be week to week. “
When asked when Dart’s knee was fixed, Williams replied, “I don’t know by heart yet.”
If that’s true, he had no idea what the program’s future cornerstone would be, a quarterback who played well enough to spark controversy over the quarterback.
What’s more likely is that Williams has denied knowing the details because he didn’t want to admit that he deliberately misled the public about Dart’s condition. But it is also problematic. By not ruling out Dart, Williams forced Slovis to listen to speculation and answer questions about how he might lose his job. In this case, the downside of confusing who would clearly start outweighed the benefits of letting the beavers guess.
In light of Dart’s surgery, Williams was asked if he was questioning his decision to leave the 18-year-old for the entire game. Dart was visibly hampered after being hit at the end of the first half.
âNo,â Williams replied. “It was already done and, like I said, it was minor. So it will still be week to week.”
So he didn’t know when Dart had surgery, but he knew exactly when his meniscus was damaged and to what degree? Riiiiight.
For what it’s worth, Williams promised the team would improve.
“Everything will be settled,” he said. “I promise you.”
At the same time, he seemed to not fully understand what was expected of him and his team.
âI don’t know how many games there were today, but I guess it was around 50,â said Williams. “And 25 teams lost. We were just one of them.”
USC is not another team, however. A coach from Oregon State, or even UCLA, can say something like that. A coach at USC can’t.
Under current conditions, only a miracle worker could deflect the Trojans. But that’s what Trojans need, and it’s not Donte Williams.