PAC-12

USC Names Max Browne The Starting Quarterback: 5 Things That Matter


Max Browne was named the USC starting quarterback to begin the season. What are the 5 Things That Matter?


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2016 USC Preview

Max Browne is the starter. It’s not a shock.

It wasn’t exactly the J.T. Barrett vs. Cardale Jones issue at Ohio State going into last season. Browne was considered the next quarterback in the progression after Cody Kessler was done, and he might even be the better overall prospect after a little bit of work.

At 6-5 and 220 pounds, Browne has the size Kessler doesn’t, and he’s got the arm and the practice time to step in right away and know what he’s doing. However, it’s not like he’s seen a ton of time, completing 11-of-19 passes for 143 yards over his first two years.

Sam Darnold will still be in the equation.

Browne was good this spring and offseason, but the emergence of Darnold made it a race. The 6-5, 225 pounder not only has Browne’s size, but he’s got the speed and mobility to give the Trojans a rushing element out of the position they haven’t had in a long, long time. At worst, he’s a terrific No. 2 guy to have in the bullpen.

How patient will the coaching staff be?

The Trojans have to start out against Alabama, and they’ve got to deal with trips to Stanford and Utah after a home date against Utah State. USC is good enough to win any and all of the tough September games, but what happens if it starts out 2-2, or worse? What happens if Browne is a total disaster against a Crimson Tide defense that, as a program, has made a living off of making great players look silly? Browne isn’t exactly a gutsy call, but the screams for Darnold could be loud if the offense isn’t moving.

Call this the experience pick.

From early indications – if you can read in between the lines of what head coach Clay Helton has said throughout the offseason, and after making the decision – this is a bit of a reward choice. Browne has waited his turn, has done everything right, and he’s the safe call to start the season. Again, though, let’s see how long this lasts if there are any hiccups.

What Does This All REALLY Mean?

It’s Alabama. It’s Week One. It’s the defending national champion looking to show the world that the rebuilding process is going to take about five minutes. Darnold might be the goods, and he might someday be truly special, but in an opener like USC has to deal with, the more experienced option – even if that time logged in is limited – might make a bit of a difference. But it’s still nice to have the option of turning to Darnold at any time to add his skill-set to the equation.