This is the test of the midseason panic alarm, please remember if this had been an actual reason to panic this alarm would be followed by new coaching candidates and loud, audible, sighs. Please remember this is only a test.
With spring football reaching a fever pitch - and the spring game for the trojans coming up on April 15th - a few interesting observations have emerged. The Los Angeles Daily news reports that the Trojans Lead Gunslinger Sam Darnold has thrown more interceptions in this spring practice than he did in both fall camps, and last year’s spring game combined.
Is this a cause for concern?
Possibly. Turnovers are the fastest way to nullify what should be a strong unit for USC this coming fall. There are valid concerns about the surrounding issues that could cause this trend to extend into fall camp and the regular season.
The USC offensive line is a huge concern this year, with nothing but questions marks outside of Chuma Edoga. Will Nico Falah, Viane Talamaivao and and Toa Lobendahn be able to rehab in time for fall camp? Or, will USC have to rely on incoming true freshmen in Alijah Vera-tucker, Austin Jackson and Andrew Vorhees? Only time will tell, but an inexperienced O-line can lead to pressure on Darnold, and we know pressure leads to happy feet and happy feet lead to turnovers.
Another reason for Darnold’s turnovers this spring has been the fact that he is pushing the ball down the field more; which is something to be expected with a young WR corps, but should not be a cause for concern when it comes to fall and the regular season.
While there was a massive loss of talent when it comes to Wide Receivers this spring, the replacements have experience. Deontay Burnet and Micheal Pittman Jr. look to be the leaders of this young group, pending the return of Steven Mitchell Jr. However, tight ends Tyler Petite and Daniel Imatorbhebhe will also add plenty of experienced pass catching options for Darnold.
My overall thought on Darnold's turnovers is that its spring practice, this is the time when you throw the deep read every chance you get, to get that work in and build a rapport with the younger wide receivers, especially against a live defense. The younger guys need experience catching deep passes and in some occasions going up and fighting for a jump ball over a defender. It's best to get them those reps in spring and summer so come fall, they’ll be comfortable making those plays under the lights.
There is no doubt Sam Darnold will throw some interceptions in the regular season, the guy is the first true gunslinger USC has had at quarterback since Carson Palmer. He trusts his arm and is going to make throws that will have all of us holding our breath, but I don’t think turnovers in spring practice are a big deal, let's just cool the jets and see how Darnold does in the spring game, then later in fall camp. Besides, that confidence to make those throws is what makes him special, Coach Martin and Coach Helton know that.