USC’s Helton brings the energy with Las Vegas Bowl ahead

LOS ANGELES — During his time roaming the USC sidelines, Lane Kiffin’s demeanor was more stoic than exuberant. The majority of the time he didn’t show much emotion.

His replacement, Ed Orgeron, was the complete opposite, handing out high-fives and chest bumps on the regular. When it comes to “rah-rah” coaches, he certainly fits the bill.

USC has now moved on to its second interim head coach, Clay Helton, as the team hit the field for their first practice on Tuesday in preparation for the Las Vegas Bowl. As Helton addresses the media, he does so with a calm demeanor, closer to Kiffin than Orgeron.

But don’t be fooled.

“I’m kind of Jekyll and Hyde,” Helton said after wrapping up his first practice as the team’s interim.

Although he’s not quite Orgeron, he’s not Kiffin either.

“Coach Helton can ‘rah-rah’ sometimes,” wide receiver Marqise Lee said. “I can honestly say he’s in the middle. Not too much but then again, sometimes he knows he has to speak up and get us rowdy and get us going and that’s what he does sometimes.”

Helton jokes his wife, Angela, is afraid of the coach she sees on the practice field. Helton can get fired up.

The last eight weeks of the regular season there was high energy around the USC football program, fueling them to six wins in that span. Helton has assured he won’t change the recipe that worked under the last interim. His views are the same.

“I like having a lot of energy, having fun with the guys,” Helton said. “I got two weeks with them. We’re going to have a blast as a staff being with these guys.”
This isn’t his first rodeo. Helton previously served as an interim head coach during his stop at Memphis.

Then-Memphis head coach Tommy West had heart surgery in 2006 and Helton had to oversee the program for four months during the offseason. 

From that experience the day-to-day organizational skills he learned, he says, has and will help him this time around.