Miller: Sam Darnold, Trojans survive scare the size of Texas

Texas USC Football

Texas USC Football

LOS ANGELES There are times you can argue a mannequin standing on a sideline would do less damage than a coach.

Sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold figures to change that. And the No. 4 Trojans (2-0) should be wary of Texas' visit to the Coliseum on Saturday night (5:30 p.m., Fox) for a marquee early-season showdown.

The freshman is USC's Chase McGrath, a non-scholarship player from Santa Ana Mater Dei.

Again, the play got made, although not for a game-winning place in history.

While the two teams are not conference rivals, they have developed a bit of a rivalry since the Vince Young-led Longhorns rallied for an epic comeback to knock off the Trojans in the 2006 Rose Bowl to claim the national championship.

In the first overtime period, USC scored first on its first play on a 25-yard touchdown from Sam Darnold to Deontay Burnett.

But despite a top-five ranking and home-field advantage, USC got all they could handle from the visiting Longhorns, needing a last-minute drive from quarterback Sam Darnold to force overtime.

Elliott gave Texas its third interception return for a touchdown in as many games going 38 yards off a tipped pass in the final minute of the first half.

That game has been sealed in history as an instant classic.

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Tightly contested and wholly entertaining, this game - at least offensively - featured an array of forgettable misplays and regrettable decisions.

For the Trojans, this is an opportunity for redemption.

Yet, the usually elusive Darnold routinely was hemmed in by the Texas rush.

Darnold bought time against the Texas pass rush and found Jones underneath the Texas defense. His second came in the fourth quarter and he almost had a third. Their first three trips into the red zone produced just a single score.

That bunker mentality extends to the Texas quarterbacking.

They had just given up the lead and done so in a stunning, confidence-shaking manner.

Greene spoke for the majority of the sellout crowd immediately after being unable to squeeze the football when he instead grabbed his helmet with both hands, an expression of disbelief that needed no translation. Velus Jones dropped a potential dagger of a deep ball and Texas punt returner Reggie Hemphill-Mapps twice caught a punt near the goal line.

The second half featured much more of the frustrations and silly mistakes of the first half, for both teams. When Helton unexpectedly got the chance to lead the Trojans two years ago, the longtime assistant swiftly brought maturity and continuity to the talent-laden program, and wins have followed. "They're a great team, and you have a team that can do something like that, you're going to score some points".

Otherwise, Matt Leinart would be in his 12th season in the National Football League right now, as a multi-time Pro Bowler, and Young would be challenging Tom Brady as the most accomplished quarterback of all-time.

Williams was named first-team preseason All-America by the Associated Press heading into this year, his junior season at Texas.

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