USC vs. ASU was the first truly complete performance for the Trojans this year with all three phases of the game pulling their weight.
For the first time in weeks, USC played mistake-free football, and led to a top-level performance against ASU.
The Trojans went into Tempe with loads of questions in need of answering. They passed the test, earning strong grades nearly across the board.
Here’s the report card for each USC unit against ASU:
With 266 yards and three first-half touchdowns, Sam Darnold was as close to his old self as he has been this season against Arizona State.
Darnold took a sack on the first play, but managed the pocket well, extending plays with his legs and paying it off by finding receivers on short and intermediate routes. Nor did he take unnecessary risks. He also broke free for a career-long on the ground with a gain of 39 yards.
Two of his three touchdown throws were gorgeous examples of his passing excellence. One was a dime over the top to Deontay Burnett. Another found Tyler Vaughns in a gap between three defenders.
Two things held Darnold back from a better performance in Tempe. The first was yet another fumble. Though it was ultimately meaningless on a fourth down attempt, the quarterback’s lack of ball security remains a concern.
In a passing sense, Darnold also struggled with accuracy. It’s no secret that he struggles with the long ball and the majority of his worst incompletions were thrown downfield. Still, with a 54 percent completion rating, the need for improvement in that department stands.