USC moved up to 11th in the country after their one-point victory over Utah that has them at 6-1. Down 21-7 during the second-half, Sam Darnold led the comeback, which ended with a defensive stand on a two-point conversion to seal the game.
FINAL: USC 28, Utah 27.
— USC Trojans (@USC_Athletics) October 15, 2017
But that 6-1 is a bit flawed. They have only had one good game in which they were good all four quarters, against Stanford. But even that game saw quarterback Sam Darnold throw two interceptions.
So in reality, they have not had a good, clean, crisp game yet, which is scary. The team takes after Sam Darnold for better and for worse.
Darnold has not been the same QB as he was in 2016. The hype and expectations were sky-high, and you can tell he can feel the weight of the world on his shoulders.
He has his flashes of excellence, but then always does something else to balance it out. He’s had a turnover every game this year and is already at nine interceptions for the season, matching his output from 2016.
Yesterday was the first time he went a game without throwing the football to the other team (he tried his best but got away with the mistakes), but he did have three fumbles, one of which directly led to a Utah touchdown.
He continuously displays his many faces as a player. His brilliance, his risky head-scratching decisions, the inability to hold onto the ball, etc. USC needs him to just stick with the first one. He makes up for his errors with his magic, but that is not how you want to keep living. You want to be as far away from the ledge as possible.
He lets his talent peak when he’s against the wall. Just like this USC team. They know they are talented so they think that they will eventually find a way to pull through. Thus the stretches of lackadaisical effort and play. Like Darnold, they have flashes of excellence but also flashes of “what the heck is wrong with them?”
Missed tackles, blown coverages, penalties, dropped catches. Stuff that you know 100% will show up from the Trojans. A lot of it has to do with the coaching. At times it seems like the coaches haven’t taught the players fundamentals and aren’t motivating them enough to stay focused all 60 minutes.
The inconsistency is frustrating to watch and shows that they have a long way to go before being a top-4 team. Consistency is a crucial element for great teams, and until USC learns it, they’ll be watching the playoffs at home on their couches.