Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 23, 2017

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 32 of 55 OCT. 23, 2017 33 There is plenty of time for Darnold to get his season turned around, and through five games the gifted signal- caller had passed for 1,389 yards (277.8 per game) — an impressive number. However, he had just nine touchdown passes to go with eight interceptions. USC scored 49 and 42 points in its first two games, but over the next three contests it fell to 28 points per game, including a 27-point perfor- mance in a double-overtime vic- tory over Texas in which the Trojans ended regulation with only 17 points. Darnold, though, was brilliant in leading the Trojans to victory, engi- neering a 52-yard drive that ended with a game-tying field goal. USC took possession on that drive with just 37 seconds left in the game. That has been the issue for USC through five games. If Darnold plays great the Trojans are hard to handle. If he doesn't play like Superman, the offense isn't productive. That has put a great deal of pressure on his shoul- ders, and at times he has pressed in an attempt to make plays. "I believe Sam Darnold has strug- gled and some of the blame should be put on him," Swanson explained. "He's obviously made some poor decisions this year, but I also place blame on what's around him. USC's offensive line has played poorly at times and has also been banged up. "That has impacted USC's ability to run the ball and also their ability to protect." USC's line took another major blow during the Washington State game, when 37-game starting right guard Viane Talamaivao was lost for the season after suffering a torn pec- toral muscle. If USC is going to regain momen- tum and play like the playoff team many expected it to be, Darnold will have to be more effective — but how is that supposed to happen when he is surrounded by youth at receiver Redshirt sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold struggled during the month of September, throw- ing eight interceptions compared to nine touch- down passes. PHOTO BY JOHN MCGILLEN/USC ATHLETICS

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