Behind a decimated offensive line that struggled on the road, USC QB Sam Darnold had the worst game of his young career Friday against Washington State, and fumbled in the final minutes to cement a 30-27 loss.
The Trojans were down three offensive lineman, and Darnold ran for his life most of the night, threw an interception and was sacked twice. He rushed for two TDs, but the performance certainly damaged his Heisman Trophy chances.
The other big question about Darnold is whether or not the 20-year old will stay in school for his junior year, or enter the NFL draft. He’s a redshirt sophomore, and will be eligible for 2018 draft.
Reporter Albert Breer of the MMQB came on my Fox Sports Radio show Saturday and talked at length about Darnold. Here’s a link to the full audio. Here’s an excerpt:
"“I had heard over the summer, the same sort of rumblings that Sam Darnold could stay in, and then I heard pretty strongly a couple weeks ago that he’s going to come out.” Full audio of @AlbertBreer on Sam Darnold: "heard pretty strongly he's going to come out." Listen for context https://t.co/WB7moi7ONA"- — TBL w Jason McIntyre (@TBL_with_Jason)
It’s one thing to spend all summer hanging out with your friends at the beach, and thinking you don’t want to leave for the NFL. It’s another to go back to campus, be a rock star under relentless media scrutiny, and having to juggle classes, a social life and being a team leader. Sure, that’s fun, but how draining is it? The more tape the NFL gets, the more flaws they find. Ask Matt Barkley. Ask Cardale Jones. When you can come out and make millions, and get the clock started toward that nine-figure contract extension, you do.
While Darnold may have seen his Heisman hopes take a hit – he’s certainly not out of it – the Trojans still have a chance at the College Football playoff. They just need to win out, capture the Pac-12 Championship (either a rematch with Washington State or perhaps a showdown with Washington) and hope there aren’t four undefeated teams left standing.