Woah. Woah. Woah. The Trojans aren’t the worst team in college football? Are you sure?
Despite head coach Clay Helton’s decision to go for it during the first USC possession on 4th and 2 on his own 38… Yes!
The Trojans picked up their first win against a Power 5 opponent this season last Saturday against now 4-1 Arizona State. And wow – what a different USC team we saw than what we have seen so far.
The main difference? USC played with a sense of HOPE. They played with passion. They played like a team that believed they were going to go out and dominate Arizona State.
The spark for the hope? Sam Darnold.
Where the heck has this kid been all year? I mean seriously – there is not enough heat on Clay Helton right now strictly in regards to the QB situation. Don’t get me wrong – there’s plenty of other heat on him for plenty of reasons, but I’m still scratching my head as to why Max Browne was named the starter at the beginning of the season.
Darnold jumpstarted the USC offence after DB Jonathan Locket bailed out Helton by intercepting ASU QB Manny Wilkins on the USC 2 after the failed early 4th down attempt. On 3rd and 8, Darnold delivered a strike to WR JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 1st down. 4 plays later, USC was in the end zone and never looked back. Darnold finished 22/33 with 352 yards and 3 TD/0 INT. JuJu finished with 7 catches totaling 123 yards and 3 TDs. RB Justin Davis carried an overwhelming majority of the load finishing with 14 carries for 123 yards and a TD.
Between these three, it felt like USC finally found their identity on offense. It felt like it was truly the best performance of the season, which Helton agreed with saying, "Saturday was without question our most complete effort as a team".
Arizona State came into the game with a high performing offence that sputtered early and often. Clancy Pendergast said he really challenged the defense before the game to pressure the quarterback. USC seemed to bring the blitz on a majority of the plays in some form or fashion throughout the game. There wasn’t much to show for it early on, but as the game went on USC got more and more results.
USC plays 3 out of their next 4 games at home, with the lone road game at Arizona. This weekend the Colorado Buffalos come to Los Angeles looking to build on a promising start to their season. If the Trojans can take care of business, they keep themselves in the hunt for the Pac-12 South title.