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How has USC quarterback Sam Darnold performed in season’s first month? Three analysts weigh in

By in Press Enterprise on October 6, 2017

By Joey Kaufman

LOS ANGELES — In August, Sam Darnold was the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy.

Darnold, USC’s redshirt sophomore passer, had ended the previous season with a historic effort in the Rose Bowl and entered this fall as the face of a team considered among the top contenders to make the College Football Playoff.

Through September, Darnold has been challenged to meet the lofty expectations, inviting a statistical comparison between his two seasons as a college starter.

Glance at a couple prominent measurements.

Last season, he ranked ninth in the nation in pass efficiency. Through five weeks of this season, he sat No. 56 in the Football Bowl Subdivision, his rating dipping more than 22 points.

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Over 366 pass attempts in 2016, Darnold was picked off only nine times. Of his 175 attempts in 2017, eight of those have been intercepted.

USC coach Clay Helton has often defended his star quarterback when asked if Darnold’s performance had sagged, citing his overall record as the team’s starter. Until last Friday, the Trojans were on a 13-game winning streak with Darnold behind center, their longest […]    

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