USC announced earlier this week that redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Darnold has been promoted to the starting quarterback position.
Head Coach Clay Helton alluded to the offense needing a spark which is why the change was made. This may be a ploy for him to save the season and his job. Being able to react and make adjustments to adversity really defines coaching ability. He’ll have to alter his gameplan offensively to make it coincide with Darnold’s strengths and abilities. Helton will also have to prepare for a different approach from opposing defenses.
Projected Offensive Adjustments
The offensive approach will be slightly different for the Trojans as they embark on a new journey with Sam Darnold. The most obvious difference will be that Darnold will be the “every down” quarterback instead of the “redzone” quarterback. Playcalling can be predictable when you have a redzone package, especially when you’re bringing in a specific quarterback. Now that Darnold is the starter, this will automatically allow USC to be less predictable in their playcalling approach. Expect Helton to start the game with some quick throws to get Darnold in a rhythm. Helton should also emphasize getting the ball to JuJu Smith-Schuster along with establishing the rush attack.
The Trojans will keep the balance in their offense and Darnold’s legs will increase the possibility of big plays.
Projected Approach from Opposing Defenses
Darnold at quarterback will make defenses stay in their base formation for the most part. Versatile quarterbacks in college football normally forces defensive coordinators to stress an “assignment sound” style of play. This means that the focus will be to contain the quarterback and for the secondary to keep their eyes locked in the right position. This is more of a conservative style defensive approach that can create hesitation by the coaching staff and an avoidance to calling risky blitz plays. This will alleviate the pressure on the offensive line by forcing the defensive line to play honest and not run stunts or line twist. This will mean more time for Darnold to find his route runners, more room for the running backs to run the ball, and less thinking from USC’s coaching staff.
Friday will be the start of a new beginning as the Trojans take on the Utah Utes. Was Helton’s decision the right decision?
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