USC Football News: Fall Camp, Day 14 Practice Notes (8/19)

USC quarterback Max Browne during practice at Howard Jones Field. (Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy)
USC quarterback Max Browne during practice at Howard Jones Field. (Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy) /

The final day of USC football Fall Camp came and went Friday, with big depth chart decisions looming after a successful scrimmage.

Both Adoree’ Jackson and Chris Hawkins said they know who USC’s starting quarterback will be after the final Fall Camp practice of 2016 ended on Friday.

“The one with a four on his jersey,” the two defenders insisted. They just don’t know if that’ll be Max Browne’s No. 4 or Sam Darnold’s No. 14.

That will be revealed on Saturday, head coach Clay Helton indicated after practice Friday, after he has had the chance to speak to both quarterbacks and their families.

SEE MORE: Why Max Browne Should Be USC’s Starting QB

Helton has been tight lipped as to which quarterback holds an edge, giving both quarterbacks their fair share of praise after Friday’s scrimmage.

“I thought offensively it was one of the smoother days that we’ve had,” Helton said. “I thought both quarterbacks did some nice things. I’m looking forward to watching the tape tonight.”

When he watches the tape tonight, Helton will get to key in on some of the basic observations any viewer of practice on Friday might have had.

LISTEN: Who Should Start for USC?

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For one, Browne started excellently, while Darnold struggled to find his rhythm early.

The elder quarterback led the offense on a scoring drive against the first team defense to start the scrimmage. Coming back with the second team offense, Browne found Isaac Whitney downfield for a touchdown. On the next drive, he hit Tyler Petite up the seam for his second score.

In three drives, he went 8-of-11 with two scores.

Darnold, on the other hand, began his outing with much less success. In the same period, the redshirt freshman went 5-of-12 without a score.

SEE MORE: Why Sam Darnold Should Be USC’s Starting QB

Drops by receivers and some great defending by the Trojan defensive backs contributed to that difficult period, in which the quarterback struggled to gain a foothold.

More from Reign of Troy

However, as has often happened in the course of this quarterback battle, the script was flipped in the final period of practice.

During the two minute drill, the defense got the better of things as a holding penalty and pressure from the defense stifled the offense.

Browne went 5-of-11 on that drive, forced to throw the ball away more than once, including a fourth down play with pressure from Olajuwon Tucker.

With one last chance to make a good impression, Darnold took over with the second team offense and marched down the field, going 5-of-5 including a deep touchdown to Daniel Imatorbhebhe. He also picked up a chunk of yards taking off on a run up the middle.

Whether or not that recovery was enough to sway Helton his way remains to be seen.

“At the end of the day it’s going to be my decision and what I feel is best for our team overall,” said Helton.

Three Stars of the Day

  1. Max Browne: The redshirt junior saved his best day of camp for last. He led the offense on three scoring drives, with touchdown passes to Isaac Whitney and Tyler Petite.
  2. Jabari Ruffin: The back up defensive end was bright with two sacks on the day, one of Brown and one of Darnold.
  3. Isaac Whitney: Another best day for last player, Whitney outjumped defenders for Browne’s first touchdown from around 25 yards out. Then he was Darnold’s favorite target during the two minute drill, catching three consecutive passes to help set up a winning score.

From the Notebook

  • Injury Update:
    • Helton reported no new injuries after the scrimmage.
    • Offensive lineman Chad Wheeler (foot), safety Marvell Tell (hamstring), safety John Plattenburg (concussion), cornerback Isaiah Langely (concussion), and safety Jamel Cook (foot) did not participate.
  • Running back Justin Davis juked his way out of trouble when Malik Dorton broke into the backfield.
  • Running back Ronald Jones scored the touchdown on the opening drive, running up the middle from four yards out.
  • Cornerback Iman Marshall broke up a pass intended for Darreus Rogers, who may have had a case to call for pass interference, though the refs on hand declined to call it.

RELATED: Projecting USC’s Depth Chart After Fall Camp

  • Defensive end Connor Murphy batted down a Darnold pass at the line of scrimmage.
  • Pressure from linebacker Osa Masina caused Darnold to throw the ball away.
  • Receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe made a great catch for Browne but later dropped one from Darnold.
  • Freshman Matt Fink went 1-of-4 on his one drive. One of those incompletions was a drop by Trevon Sidney.
  • Before Darnold’s touchdown to Imatorbhebhe during the two-minute drill, Ykili Ross was called for pass interference on a pass intended for Steven Mitchell.