Sam Darnold Named USC Starting Quarterback vs. Utah

There’s a new USC starting quarterback, as head coach Clay Helton made the decision Monday that redshirt freshman Sam Darnold will start vs. Utah on Friday, unseating Max Browne.

Darnold took first-team reps for the Trojans as they began their preparations for Utah on Monday afternoon at Howard Jones Field. Following practice, Helton confirmed the change.

After an interesting quarterback competition that stretched throughout camps in the spring and fall, Darnold lost out to redshirt junior Browne two weeks before the start of the season.

With Darnold being a dual-threat quarterback, Helton originally planned to use him in special packages, both in the red zone and in short yardage situations.

But three weeks into the season, and following disastrous losses to No. 1 Alabama and No. 7 Stanford, Helton is hitting the reset button and going back on his word.

It comes after USC has scored just one touchdown in their two games against Power 5 opponents.

Darnold is now set to make his first-team debut for the Trojans on the road vs. No. 24 Utah, in what is arguably the most hostile environment in the Pac-12: Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Through three games in limited action, Darnold is 14-of-22 for 136 yards passing. He’s thrown a pair of touchdown passes, along with an interception.

Browne on the other hand, improved each week, including a steady performance Saturday vs. Stanford. He’s completed 55 of 87 passes for 474 yards, with a pair of touchdowns and interceptions.

Both quarterbacks had similar completion percentages, at 63.2 and 63.6.

The Trojans are 1-2 on the season and are looking to salvage their season with a win in their first Pac-12 South game.

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