USC Morning Buzz: Look At A Stat That Shows Who Was No. 2 QB

Baker Mayfield had the best season of any quarterback and deserved the Heisman Trophy. Here’s an interesting stat from Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News: “In four games against ranked opponents, (Mayfield) had 15 TDs and 2 INTs and an efficiency rating of 215. The No. 2 efficiency rating in that category belongs to Sam Darnold, at 168.”

Sam Darnold? I guess his season wasn’t too bad after all. This intrigues me because even after the Pac-12 title game I had fans complaining about me being too complimentary of Darnold. Before the season, a USC official complained I was too pro-Darnold.

But he delivers in big games and big moments. That stat proves it.

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  • Michael Guarino

    Even with the fumbles and the interceptions, if Sam had thrown ONE more touchdown pass a game (maybe 2 more at South Bend) —he would have been in the Heisman conversation. It hurts when you throw for a half dozen fewer TD’s in 2017 (over 13 games) than you did when you played a partial season in 2016.

    • Pudly76

      Monday

      • Michael Guarino

        Thank you, pardner! [I look forward to the following announcement: “We held Porter Gustin out today as a precaution but we hope to have him back for the game”].

        • Pudly76

          I’d love to hear it.. I think he goes a long way toward holding the buckeyes in check.

          Oh Lord won’t you send me a defensive end…

          • Michael Guarino

            If we go to war against Ohio State with Porter Gustin, Rasheem Green, Uchenna Nwosu and Christian Rector all fully healthy, I think we’re gonna do okay.

          • Pudly76

            Don’t forget Big Brandon Pili

          • Michael Guarino

            Good call! [And not-so-big Jordon Iosefa can make things tough for Barrett, too].

          • gotroy22

            Rasheem will declare a jihad on the OSU QB.

          • Pudly76

            Hope his shoulder is better, he’s been nursing it since at least the cal game

          • Michael Guarino

            Here’s to hoping that all those guys who are gonna be in on the rush get just the right combination of practice and time to heal up.
            #HealthCrescendoScheduledForDecember29

          • steveg

            That is that defense that keeps OSU from scoring, so they can’t win without points.

          • Michael Guarino

            Please send an email to Jack Jones requesting he join the effort, steveg. [Seriously, if Jones holds up his end of the bargain, I’m very confident we WILL win].

          • gotroy22

            Who knew Janis Joplin loved football?

          • Pudly76

            Right on the money, thought perhaps I was too vague

          • Michael Guarino

            Well, I’m glad gt got it (gt gets everything) cuz I’m ashamed of myself for missing it….
            #MyReplyLooksEvenMoreLameNow….

    • Evil Robot

      I’m assuming this is sarcasm, but that “ONE” means 15 mote TD’s (with the “maybe”). Pretty much every starting QB would be in the Heisman conversation with an extra 15 TD’s.

      • Michael Guarino

        Only difference between Sam and the rest? Sam could EASILY have tossed an average of one more TD a game IF we let him. Unfortunately, our offensive philosophy was to get a lead and, then, play field position football (unless and until our lead was threatened —then we’d score again).
        #NoSarcasm,MisterRobot

        • rusoviet

          I noticed that a lot – get a lead and then sit on it – constantly in the 2nd half – then hope the opponent didn’t drive the field and force our offense to score again rather than get the lead and add to it and add to it etc..

          darnold is a rare commodity and the offense has drastically improved since So. Bend due to the players asserting themselves along with some assistants finally realizing their gain. Now as to the current head coach understanding great teams bring counters to the 2nd half – good luck – haven’t seen that all year

          • Michael Guarino

            I couldn’t agree with you more, Alv. I can’t count the number of games I’ve seen lost by coaches assuming they could nurse a lead with a full quarter to go. Gone are the days when McKay told his troops at half time, “Now, we’re gonna go back out and score and score and score. We’re not gonna beat them, we’re gonna destroy them.”

          • rusoviet

            That was Pete Carroll’s strategy as well – now destroy them! esp playing a team on the front end of a ‘home and home’ so that the next year they’re already terrified of you – anyone believe TX is terrified of facing us next September?

          • Michael Guarino

            What is the word for the opposite of “terrified”, Alv?

          • rusoviet

            Indifference mixed with a large portion of contempt i.e. what Herman showed, post-game, towards Helton after TX lost in overtime.

          • Michael Guarino

            As opposed to Brian Kelly —-who merely showed unadulterated contempt. No—- I take that back —his contempt WAS adulterated—- with hatred for our program. No matter what else happens next season, I hope Helton teaches Kelly a little lesson in humility at the Coliseum next November.

          • rusoviet

            ‘If’ Darnold comes back we have a chance – w.o. him – none. I see real problems in September esp. Stanford and TX back-to-back on the road – the balance of the schedule prior to ‘the princess’ looks winnable but a lot hangs on September. Lose those two the season is already over re. any shot at a ‘final four’ slot.

          • Michael Guarino

            If we’re breaking in a new quarterback when we head to Texas, it’s gonna be tough. With Costello at quarterback, so is Stanford (but, remember, they’ll be without Bryce Love). In our favor —a running quarterback, Stephen Carr, great receivers, a bunch of youngsters returning on both sides of the line. All is not lost, Alv. Even if we take a couple of losses in the first three games we can come on strong and close things out with wins over UCLA and Notre Dame.

          • rusoviet

            Mike I don’t doubt the balance of 2018 as I noted after the two road game @ Stanford and TX the rest are very winnable. My problem is having to accept a less than qualified head coach who has incredible talent to mold and teach and can’t – thus as many have noted we’ll be under achieving again as we have since Helton came on the scene (post sanction impact).

            Helton is a very decent man but someone who has not learned anything elsewhere because he wasn’t with any really top tier programs before he came to USC. I mean come on – Duke, Houston and Memphis? This is the problem – he has never been a head football coach anywhere. He also has absolutely no idea how a top tier contending program feels and acts like and he certainly has had little to learn since he was picked by Kiffin back in 2010

          • Michael Guarino

            Helton has more or less adopted the Pete Carroll philosophy of “the players need to think of the head coach as being on their side or they won’t play for him.” But Coach Carroll always had plenty of assistants to do the dirty work for him. Coach Helton doesn’t. Why does Jack Jones celebrate after he tackles a receiver who has made a 25 yard gain? Why does Chuma smile when he’s killed a drive with a dumb penalty? They have no fear of consequences. It’s all good.
            This Ohio State game is a HUGE test for Helton. Ohio State has a better balanced, more talented team than USC. Not by a lot. But they definitely have a slight talent edge. To beat them, USC will have to be at their disciplined best. Now would be a good time to start REALLY holding players accountable in practice.

          • rusoviet

            He has no idea how to run a top tier program and what astounds others is how talented USC is with such a klutz as ‘head coach’ and they win. Helton has one more year and ‘ outta here.

          • Michael Guarino

            Will your opinion soften if Helton beats Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl? Ohio State is marginally more talented, overall, than USC. Beating them would take some nifty coaching on Helton’s part.

          • rusoviet

            No I don’t expect to see any change in this individual having any real impact on the outcome of this game.

            Great coaches win consistently at lower talented programs and that in turn earns them consideration to being promoted to better ones ie. they win no matter where they coach and that is true in any endeavor in life.

            Prior to 2010 when Kiffin hired him Clay Helton never coached at any team that is in any college ratings top 25. USC is the 1st time he’s even been on a top 25 campus.

            Helton fell into this gig because a fool of an AD chose a functioning alcoholic w.o. vetting said alcoholic and even more telling, did an initial pathetic perfunctory search for the one program that defines USC – football.

            The alcoholic was unmasked and, in desperation due to other ugly revelations, sacked. Then that same AD decided to walk away a second time after looking to see who else was about the same level but more controllable than the alcoholic – I give you Clay Helt

          • Michael Guarino

            Ha! [I take it that Pat Haden ‘s tenure is not seen by you as a high point in the history of collegian athletic directorships]….

          • rusoviet

            Even putting aside his embezzelment of the Mayr Foundation Haden was a lazy bad athletic director – his ego was such that he would re-create USC in his image. I swear how it is he hasn’t been told to get out speaks volumes of the ‘Force me to leave and I’ll tell on you!’ that the school upper ranks is riddled with – he should never had any input (for good or bad) on the Coliseum re-design – clown reminds me of Albert Speer and his ‘architectural’ genius while V-2 rockets were being built at Kohnstein by forced enslaved labor.

          • Michael Guarino

            I think you’re right about the USC hierarchy (and the same holds true for the Washington hierarchy) —everybody just has too much on each other for anyone to seriously think they can clean things up.
            […But if I find out that Haden launched even one V-2 rocket, I swear, Alv, there is gonna be hell to pay]……

          • rusoviet

            The Donald has a huge mouth but you know he sure does have an awful lot of ‘connected’ folk worried.

          • Michael Guarino

            That he does, Alv.

          • steveg

            Why wasn’t all that talent on the All American lists?
            Oh ya, coaches fault.

          • rusoviet

            Because of the razor thin margins of victory compared to the trouncing other programs did against similar opponents that and the Pac-12 sucked this year.

          • Pudly76

            And perhaps a new defensive backfield

          • Michael Guarino

            Why do I keep repressing that part of the equation? It would be beyond cool if there were a couple of smart, speedy junior college corners who joined us next year.

          • Pudly76

            Or real good incoming freshmen.. we also have Je’Quari Godfrey who was very highly rated until he was hurt his junior yr in high school, should be ready this spring…6’2” 190 lb

          • Michael Guarino

            Thanks, Pudly —I totally forgot that we had him. I heard he can play almost any position on defense —-wonder where he’ll end up?

          • Pudly76

            Very quick and long armed youngster who was a top ranked db his junior year until he got hurt, I suspect he’ll be playing db considering we have Bolden and Pola-Mao to play safety.

          • Michael Guarino

            Good news, Pudly. Maybe Jack Jones will grow up over the summer. If not……
            (I was re-watching last year’s Rose Bowl—Coach Franklin definitely thought he could win at the end by targeting Jones. Expect Meyer to do the exact same thing. Jack is every opposing coach’s ace in the hole).

          • RegalTrojan

            Without Darnold, I’m afraid we’re not going to be 11-2 next year going into the bowl game, MG.

          • Michael Guarino

            You’re right, RT! Unless Jack Sears turns out to be something special in spring , It will be hard to get past Arizona, UCLA and Washington State —let alone Texas, Stanford and Notre Dame —without a stumble or two. There just won’t be as much margin for error without Sam to bail us out at the end.

          • RegalTrojan

            True, MG. The team won’t be the same without Darnold and with a first year starter at QB. The success of our next season almost solely depends on the return of Darnold or otherwise.

          • Michael Guarino

            Check out what Pudly said, RT. It’s something for us to hang our hats on, pardner!

          • RegalTrojan

            MG, my bro. I’ve got only a few friends who have one-track minds, so I’m not so sure if I’m going to be so enthusiastic about another one. Besides, pudding ain’t my favorite treat. LOL!

          • Michael Guarino

            I love it, RT! One track minds are the only way to go!

          • RegalTrojan

            I miss my 8-tracks, MG! But why does it feel like they were from the ancient times already? Keith Moon would sound pretty darn good if he was still around, right?

            #IReallyWannaKnowWhoAreYou?

          • Michael Guarino

            (1) I really miss those damn 8 tracks too, RT —the Kinks, Yardbirds, Zombies, Animals and, of course, the Stones—-
            (2) I’d really love to know WHO I am too, pardner!

          • RegalTrojan

            “Who am I?” must be one of the questions we had asked ourselves the most, MG. But the inquiry still continues…

            #ICan’tGetNoSatisfaction

          • Pudly76

            Sears did in one year of high school and hat Darnold couldn’t, win a state championship

          • Michael Guarino

            There IS hope in the post Darnold world, Pudly.

          • fast fred

            How do you know that Bryce is not coming back?

          • Michael Guarino

            He told me.

          • steveg

            That is an interesting statement, but how does one prepare for something unforseen?

          • rusoviet

            O seamus it’s called anticipating the setback – it’s why great coaches withstand the first half and counter in the 2nd and then prevail. Today the Eagles did that against the Rams and the result is a victory, costly losing Wentz, but they prevailed.

            USC, this year, has never ‘come back’ rather it has allowed opponents to ‘come back’ and were it not for Darnold this squad would have lost 4 – 5 games this year due to the lack of skill of the head coach.

        • gotroy22

          What’s is a “mote touchdown”? Is that a robotic term? A term of measure in the robotic community?

          • Michael Guarino

            See how nice I can be? I was gonna have fun with that —but I held back.
            #SoGladYouPickedUpOnIt

          • gotroy22

            Perhaps Mr. Roboto was waxing religious on this fine Sunday and harkening back to the Parable of the Mote and the Beam?

          • Michael Guarino

            Ha! (That’s very generous of you, gt —-but I doubt it).

          • Pudly76

            “So mote it be”

          • USCDAN1986

            Lol

    • Pudly76

      This year not only do we need to replace Tyson we have a new coaching slot available starting this year. ncaa has expanded coaching staffs this year by 1

  • LamontRaymond

    Kind of a bummer that a guy like Willner exists, huh Scottie? He brings serious analysis. You thought Dan Webber was the only pro who regularly puts your stuff to shame.

  • Fred Sampson

    That’s a scary stat for Clay Helton, because he may have talented quarterbacks waiting to take over for Sam Darnold, but he’s gonna need somebody special to win games for him, because he’s a very average head coach

    • rusoviet

      I’m not even sure he’s ‘average’ although he probably is in Conference USA. One more year and goodbye Clay

    • SucKiffin

      Gomer without once in a 3 decade competitor Darnold = 4-8

    • LamontRaymond

      Pfft. Better record than Petey after 2 seasons. It’ll take a few years to truly judge Clay.

    • schammer47

      Fred, I am convinced that Coach Helton and his Staff can and will lead our Trojans to an NCAA Playoff Victory this coming 2018 season with Darnold, Finks, or Sears at starting QB. A significant number of Juniors stay for their final year of eligibility. and this roster will be rock solid. FIGHT OH !!!

      • steveg

        I sure hope if Sam leaves Fink steps up big and humbles a bunch of critics on here. The way Sam played this season was not very good. Yes he is gifted in areas but not in others. We shall see if these experts on here really know much. I am standing that USC will take on a new face and move on in big ways if Sam leaves. It happens every year.

        • RegalTrojan

          All these eternal optimists have a borrowed time of several months not to be wrong, but it’s not realistic to think the team will be the same or better without Darnold. Despite his imperfections, Darnold is at least a first-rounder for the NFL. It’d be a pretty boneheaded thing to say his departure wouldn’t affect the team negatively.

          • steveg

            Yes it would, at QB. But someone steps in and hits 60% of his passes, the run game gets going, Carr is a star, the defense steps up and become one of the best. All kinds of changes happen each year. The need of a 1st round qb is not as great as other areas get stronger.

          • rusoviet

            That reminds me of what Buzzie Bavasi said when he declined to re-sign 20 game winner Nolan Ryan “I can go out and get two 10 game winners.”

          • Gabby

            Ryan was released from the Angles after the 1979 season,. T

          • gotroy22

            Nolan Ryan threw 3 no hitters and threw 4 complete games with no walks after Bavasi stupidly traded him away.

            1. On Sept. 26, 1981, pitching for Houston, he defeated Los Angeles, 5-0, allowing two walks and striking out 14.
            2. On June 11, 1990, pitching for Texas, he defeated Oakland, 5-0, allowing two walks and striking out 14.
            3. On May 1, 1991, pitching for Texas, he defeated Toronto, 5-0, allowing two walks and striking out 16.

            Nolan Ryan threw four complete games in his career in which he walked no one:
            1. On June 13, 1983, pitching for Houston, he defeated San Diego, 2-0, allowing five hits and striking out 11.
            2. On Sept. 8, 1988, pitching for Houston, he defeated Los Angeles, 2-1, allowing five hits and striking out 7.
            3. On Sept. 14, 1988, pitching for Houston, he defeated Cincinnati, 7-1, allowing four hits and striking out 13.
            4. On Sept. 30, 1989, pitching for Texas, he defeated California, 2-0, allowing three hits and striking out 13.

            Including the two complete games in September 1988, 9 years after the Angels traded him away, , Ryan had a streak of 21 consecutive innings without a walk, his longest streak in the majors.

          • RegalTrojan

            Since you and I are still living in the present, we can’t foresee which direction the team would go after Darnold leaves. However, I don’t see him as an average QB that can be handily replaced every one or two years. Given everything pretty much equal as the last few years, his departure is likely to cause a tangible drop in the offensive firepower in the team.

          • steveg

            If Sam leaves there will be a difference in the offense. Will someone else step up? I cannot say no, but usually someone does. Browne was the 5*, but Sam the 3* stepped up. Every year it is someone different.

        • rusoviet

          Every year? Really? You really think Darnold’s leaving will have minimal affect upon the fortunes of this team with this coaching staff ‘in situ’?

          Unbelivable

          • steveg

            Darnold leaving will have an effect, but life goes on, as it always has in college football. Believable. Things just change. I know this isn’t your first year in college football and you know what I am saying.

          • rusoviet

            Yeah but I’m not sure you do – take care.

        • gotroy22

          Matt Fink is King of the LA River!

    • Ben Factor

      Fred, of course you’re right. About 10 people on this board live in a fantasy world. Who are they? See all the responses to your common sense.

      I have already made my prediction: starting in the 2019 season, UCLA will be a real handful, and after 2020, Helton will not longer be coaching USC. I won’t respond to the current criticism that this comment will provoke. However, as the 2019 season unfolds, I’ll accept that I was foolish and wrong.

      • Fred Sampson

        Exactly, me too

  • Trojan5

    It is not that SW & some folks are too complimentary of Sam that frustrates many of us. It is the unwillingness or inability to present a more dimensional analysis of Sam or anyone connected to USC. It is not a binary choice of good or bad. It can be & is true that USC would not be 11& 2 without Sam and also be true that his miscues contributed to the teams struggles. It is also true that Sams struggles were not on him alone. Other aspects of the teams performance influenced his performance. All I ask is a bit more analysis and a bit less one dimensional pontification.

  • Gabby

    “But he delivers in big games and big moments. That stat proves it”

    Hey Wolfie!….I love Sam like a son, but he had a 92 rating against a ranked Washington St. team. If Sam plays close to that 168 rating we win the game and arguably in the CFP……..nice try!

    • Pudly76

      And the rating of his nd game? We all love him but it was what it was..not his best efforts. That being said, what do we do without him?

  • Brent4c

    We know the wins are all because of SD and losses are all because of Helton we get it. Have you analyzed the injury situation in the losses compared to the wins? I’m looking at Wazzu and ND we had horrific injury/depth issues during and just before the game. A team can’t lose 3 OL and/or 3 DL in a single game vs a quality opponent on the road and expect to win.

    • rusoviet

      All teams deal with injuries – the top programs and their coaches then show their prowess by altering the play to continue to win and win decisively. Helton hasn’t a clue

    • Pudly76

      Alabama used the excuse of TWO hurt defensive players as the excuse for losing to Auburn. Don’t believe the crap some of these people spread.

  • Pudly76

    Anybody notice an ad on twitter from Oregon St?
    It features the pic of cute coed smiling.
    Below it is the caption “come join Beaver Nation “
    It just seems wrong…

    • USCDAN1986

      I caught that too.. Lol

      • Pudly76

        I have daughters and for some reason it didn’t sit well with me, then I thought back to when I was younger

        • USCDAN1986

          I read it twice. I said ooops someone goofed.. Lol

          • Pudly76

            They keep running it, maybe they need more guys to enroll?

          • USCDAN1986

            Or mote beaver lol

    • gotroy22

      It should attract lots of guys.

      • Pudly76

        Filled out my app last week.

      • Michael Guarino

        Guys! Guys! I”m afraid we’re rapidly approaching (if we haven’t already arrived at) the point where someone is gonna read our harmless posts, feel “mini assaulted”, and we’re all gonna be asked to apologize before stepping down as contributors to Inside USC.
        #”ItNeverGoesAway!”

  • Pudly76

    I want a mote full of beer!

    • USCDAN1986

      Im in.. One mote! Lol

      • steveg

        I don’t have much time, can I get a half mote?

        • Pudly76

          Top or bottom half

  • StokaNoka

    Does the efficiency rating count fumbles?

    • gotroy22

      Gollyyy Noiiid is as giddy as a school girl after getting to attend the World Premier for The Last Jedi last night.

    • gotroy22

      Does your stupidity rate count getting caught with all your sock puppets?

      • StokaNoka

        LOL you must really be disturbed old man. Seeing more than one user on the screen again?

        • gotroy22

          With your 80’s Spicoli “dude” lingo you are eligible for AARP , Golllllly Noiiid. I heard you love their leftist monthly magazine featuring your fave Hollyweird kooks.

  • Pasadena Trojan

    Scooter, no one like a bragger. You will not be accepted by saying you were right and look at me for being right

  • Pudly76

    For those interested in practice and bowl schedule including hotels etc., see the we are SC website. Practice is closed to the public. And will be open only for the first 15 mins to the press when in Dallas

  • steveg

    What happened with ND and WSU Wolf? He didn’t deliver.

  • Ignore_the_trolls

    It wasn’t the big games that were the issue (other than ND) — it was the games where we didn’t put people away because of poorly time turnovers.

    • Pudly76

      At the risk of sounding snarky, which turnovers are well timed?

      • Michael Guarino

        Answer: Only the ones that come from the other side of the line.

  • Brutus Beefcake

    the Mel Kiper Trio on ESPN all said Roto Jr should go back to school…..he won’t, but is not a pro quality QB yet.

    DEAL WITH IT!!

    #HappyFeet
    #FumbleFingers
    #INTMachine

  • Isaiahdolan

    Sam Darnold regressed a bit in 2017- that was obvious. His fumble hurt against Washington State which eliminated USC from the playoffs. But I love his game and his demeanor and I expect he will do great in the pros.