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Darnold named starting QB for Trojans

Clay Helton announced after the Monday practice that redshirt freshman Sam Darnold will start at QB for USC against Utah this week, replacing Max Browne who started the first three games.

Here are post-practice quotes from Helton, Darnold and Browne.

Clay Helton

I had the opportunity to evaluate the first three games and I made the decision for our football team that we would make a change at quarterback.

I truly appreciate how honorably Max has played and he’s competed, he’s done with extreme honor and extreme class. He is not the reason we’re 1-2. He’s not the scapegoat here with the way he performed, it was more than honorable. But the realism with football is that we are 1-2, and only scored one touchdown against Alabama and Stanford, so I wanted to see our offense get a spark and I’m confident Sam can bring that. After watching him for three games, seeing him in the arena and seeing what he can do, I’m very appreciative of what he can do.

I had the opportunity to talk with both young men last night and I informed our team today in a team meeting. Both kids were tremendously classy, as they always are, and both of them came out here today and continued to compete. Even today with Max, having to shift roles, he came out and competed his butt off.

I’m always going to do what I think is best for this football team and right now I think with the situation we’re in it was time to make a change.

I spent all Sunday looking at all three games, and it’s not that Max played bad but the ball wasn’t getting in the end zone.

Right now from what Sam has shown he will be an every down guy, he gives you unique arm strength and the ability to run the ball.

I’ll never doubt my decision, I’ll never regret going with that young man, Max Browne. He’s a man of utmost character and talent but I also have to make really, really tough decisions as a head coach, and sometimes that means hurting one member of your family and making another one extremely happy.

Sam Darnold

I was stoked to hear the news, stoked to finally get the opportunity. Max competed his butt off but in the end coach made his decision and we’re going to prepare for Friday just like we have been.

I had no sense of what was coming. I knew I was going to be ready whenever my number was called, I just stayed ready, that was my goal.

It sucks for Max but this is a business, and like I said it was the coach’s decision. It’s nothing between us two, we’re still really good friends. It makes it a little harder, obviously, but we’re still going to try to stay really good friends. It’s nothing more than that. I saw the way he worked, even when Cody was the starter, Max would work and prepare every day like he was going to be the starter and I took that same mindset. I think on Friday it will pay off.

Today’s practice was different in that I went with the 1’s and I got a lot more reps, but nothing else was really different.

Max Browne

You kind of know, when you’re not winning ballgames it’s not easy on anyone. But after I had watched the film, I was better than I thought so it surprised me for sure, I’d be lying if I said otherwise.

Coach Helton brought me in after the walk-through, face to face, man to man, rationalized his points. Yeah, it’s not easy.

He said the offense isn’t moving, the ball isn’t moving, so he’s going to give Sam a chance to see what he can do.

Obviously you’re going to be tough on yourself. I look back at some of those deep ball throws, if I hit on a couple of those it changes the vibe of the offense, it’s a different story. So yeah, I look back on a few of those and I’m kind of kicking myself because that’s what I’ve made my money on out here is the deeper routes.

I know how these things work, usually when the young guy goes in you know how it is. But I’ll be ready. I owe it to my teammates, to the guys I’ve been working with for four years, I’ll stay ready at a moment’s notice and I’ll be ready to go.

Yeah, you think about all of the opportunities at hand (transferring) but at the end of the day it’s only week 4, there’s a lot of ball to play. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about different outcomes but it’s been that way my entire career, thinking about situation A or situation B and how you would respond to both.

(he was asked if the move being made to get a spark was a result of things that were out of Max’s control) Yeah, I think there’s an aspect of that, I think you’re spot-on with that.

Garry Paskwietz

A 1988 graduate of USC with a degree in Sports Information. Worked in sports marketing for LA Lakers and Miller Brewing Company. Began covering the Trojans in 1996 with the Trojan Football Fax. Founded WeAreSC in November 1998 with stints at Scout and ESPN. Emmy-winner while covering high school football at Fox Sports West.

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