USC-Washington grades: QB Sam Darnold plays well in Trojans’ upset win

USC's front seven dominates Washington offensive line in victory, while freshman QB Darnold has a big day throwing downfield.

| 3 weeks ago
(Otto Gruele Jr., Getty Images)

(Otto Gruele Jr., Getty Images)

USC-Washington grades: QB Sam Darnold plays well in Trojans’ upset win


USC Trojans 26, Washington Huskies 13

Here are the top-graded players and biggest storylines from USC’s 26-13 win over Washington in Week 11:

USC Trojans

Quarterback grade: Sam Darnold, 79.7

Redshirt freshman Darnold leads Trojans to upset

Sam Darnold has been having a fantastic season for the Trojans, and that continued with a big game Saturday night. Darnold was incredibly efficient, and had amazing success when looking downfield. On passes more than 10 yards downfield, Darnold completed 11-of-12 for 199 yards and two touchdowns. He did struggle against the blitz, as he completed just 5-of-11 passes and threw both his interceptions when Washington sent extra rushers. But his play overall more than made up for those struggles.

darnold-passing-chart

Top offensive grades:

QB Sam Darnold, 79.7

WR Darreus Rogers, 79.5

T Zach Banner, 78.6

WR Deontay Burnett, 76.9

T Chad Wheeler, 70.4

Receivers pick up the slack from lack of run game

With USC’s run game finding very little success, gaining just 106 yards on 31 carries, the passing game stepped up big. Receivers Darreus Rogers and Deontay Burnett were particularly big for Darnold, combining 10 catches on 13 targets for 151 yards and a touchdown. They also had four catches for more than 20 yards. It seemed like every time Darnold needed a completion, he looked at either Rogers or Burnett.

Top defensive grades:

LB Cameron Smith, 83.6

ED Uchenna Nwosu, 83.3

DI Stevie Tu’ikolovatu, 82.3

ED Porter Gustin, 81.5

DI Rasheem Green, 79.7

Front seven of USC controls Washington’s line, shuts down offense

While the offense played well, this game was won because USC’s front seven absolutely dominated the game. The Trojans were led by Uchenna Nwosu, who finished with a team-high 85.7 run-defense grade, and also added two hits and six hurries rushing the passer. Porter Gustin was big off the edge, too, notching two sacks, a hit and four hurries. Overall the Trojans held Washington to a measly 61 yards rushing on 22 carries, and got pressure on Washington’s Jake Browning on 53 percent of his dropbacks.

Washington Huskies

Quarterback grade: Jake Browning, 54.6

Worst game of Browning’s season plays a big role in the Huskies’ first loss

Sophomore QB Jake Browning was done no favors by his offensive line, which allowed him to be pressured on more than half of his dropbacks. But he did struggle on those pressured plays, completing just 6-of-16 passes for 83 yards and an interception. Browning was missing throws all day, and especially struggled looking at anyone except John Ross. He was 8-of-10 for 154 yards and a touchdown throwing to Ross, and 9-of-21 for 105 yards and two picks throwing to anyone else.

browning-under-pressure

Top offensive grades:

WR John Ross, 83.4

C Coleman Shelton, 78.7

RB Myles Gaskin, 72.8

RB Lavon Coleman, 56.8

WR Quinten Pounds, 55.1

Offensive line play is biggest reason for Washington’s loss

Aside from center Coleman Shelton, nobody on Washington’s offensive line graded above 45.5 overall. They struggled to get anything going in the run game, as evidenced by the 1.3 yards before contact per carry that the Huskies’ backs averaged. But the line was even worse in the passing game. Overall they allowed three sacks, a hit, and 14 hurries. Add in two more times where Browning tripped and sacked himself because of the pressure, and you get a bad game by an offensive line that has had issues all season.

Top defensive grades:

S Budda Baker, 84.9

LB Keishawn Bierria, 83.1

DI Vita Vea, 82.8

DI Elijah Qualls, 80.9

S JoJo McIntosh, 76.2

Good — but not great — defensive effort keeps Huskies in the game for as long as possible

There was a lot to like from the Huskies’ defense in this game. As a unit, they missed just two tackles the entire game. Almost everyone graded well against the run, as they held USC to just 3.4 yards per carry. Safety Budda Baker was particularly huge for the team, finishing with five solo stops. But ultimately, they just couldn’t make enough plays in coverage to keep USC from taking control.

| Analyst

Bryson has been an analyst at Pro Football Focus since 2014, and has also been a contributor to 120 Sports.

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