The axe had to fall on somebody. After coming out of the gate with a 1-2 record, Clay Helton’s hand was forced to make a change. Helton has decided to swap starting quarterbacks after three weeks into the season, going with the freshman quarterback Sam Darnold over the redshirt junior Max Browne.
In the Trojans’ first three games this season, Browne threw for just 474 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions on 63.2% passing. Browne failed to produce a single touchdown against Alabama and Stanford, as the entire offense as a whole only produced one single touchdown against these elite opponents. Browne also threw a pick six the USC football program’s embarrassing loss to Alabama.
Coach Helton did not throw Browne under the bus. Helton explained his decision by saying, “He is not the reason we’re 1-2. He is not the scapegoat here. But the realism of football is when you’re 1-2, and you’v scored one touchdown against Alabama and Stanford, I wanted to see a spark in our offense. I hope Sam can bring that.”
Darnold is a better runner than Browne, opening the USC offensive capability more with his mobility. Darnold also gives more value to buying USC football tickets. With Helton now 1-4 as the full-time coach, he doesn’t have the luxury of being patient with Browne. USC was supposed to be a legit team this season, as their talent on both sides of the ball earned them a #20 ranking in the preseason polls. With big-time losses to both Alabama and Stanford, it is hard for any Trojan fan to object to this decision.