After a stellar performance in USC’s upset of No. 4 Washington on Saturday, redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Darnold was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week.
Darnold threw for 287 yards on 23-of-33 passing for two touchdowns. Both were impressive throws to the back of the end zone — he hit senior wide receiver Darreus Rogers after waiting patiently in the first quarter and then in the fourth quarter, Darnold threaded the needle to sophomore tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe to give the Trojans a 24-13 lead.
“I don’t question Sam anymore,” Imatorbhebhe said after the game. “I know he’s going to put it right where I can catch it, so it’s my job to catch it. He can make pretty much every throw on the field.”
Darnold has been making the right throws this season, going 6-1 since taking over the starting job from redshirt junior Max Browne after the Stanford loss. On the season, Darnold has accrued 2,162 yards passing for 22 touchdowns, a USC freshman season record. His 68.1 percent completion percentage is seventh in all of college football and his quarterback rating of 165.8 ranks eighth in the nation.
He outdueled Heisman Trophy contender Jake Browning on Saturday in USC’s stunning road win, earning him Pac-12 honors. Darnold did not seem fazed by Washington’s defense, which is nicknamed “Death Row” and allowed the fewest yards of total offense in the Pac-12 coming into the game.
“I’ll be honest with you, we thought that was probably the second best defense we’ve played all year, next to Alabama. And a secondary that we feel is elite,” head coach Clay Helton said.
Darnold will look to extend his record to 7-1 next week against UCLA.