FootballScoop is proud to announce that Tyson Helton is the 2016 FootballScoop Quarterbacks Coach of the Year presented by ProGrass as selected by prior winners.
USC started this season 1-2. The program was in crisis, at least according to the buzzards circling Heritage Hall. The Trojans made a simple change, and two months later the entire tenor of the season changed. By November, some were arguing those very same Trojans should be candidates for the College Football Playoff.
That change? Inserting Sam Darnold in at quarterback.
Darnold first started on Sept. 23, a close Friday night loss at Utah. He did not lose again.
The redshirt freshman beat eventual Pac-12 South champion Colorado, hitting 68 percent of his throws for 358 yards and three touchdowns -- good for a 170.2 quarterback rating, the highest CU's No. 3-rated pass efficiency defense would allow on the year.
Darnold posted five touchdown games against Arizona and California, threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns in a blowout of Oregon, and hit 23-of-33 throws for 287 yards with two touchdowns (and two interceptions) in a 26-13 upset of then-undefeated Washington in Seattle. He capped the season with the best passing performance in Rose Bowl history, hitting 33-of-53 passes for 453 yards with a record five touchdowns against one interception in a thrilling come-from-behind 52-49 victory over Big Ten champion Penn State.
For the year, Darnold completed 246-of-366 passes (67.2 percent) for 3,086 yards (8.4 per attempt) with 31 touchdowns against nine interceptions. His 161.07 quarterback rating ranked ninth nationally and first among freshmen.
Darnold was named the Pac-12's Offensive Freshman of the Year, an Honorable Mention All-Pac-12 selection and a finalist for the Manning Award, given to the nation's top quarterback.
A Houston graduate, Helton began coaching as a graduate assistant at Hawaii in 2000. He joined the full-time staff as special teams coordinator a year later and then moved on to Memphis, UAB, Cincinnati and Western Kentucky, where he was the Hilltoppers' offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2014-15 before joining brother Clay Helton's USC staff in January.
"He's an excellent football coach. One of the things that I was hoping he would bring to the table, which he has, is his extensive knowledge of the passing game," USC head coach Clay Helton said. "He is our passing game coordinator, and I think he's done a wonderful job with that. I'm excited not only that he's my brother but that he's on this staff and he's done a wonderful job as a coach."
The FootballScoop Coaches of the Year awards presented by ProGrass are the only set of awards that recognize the most outstanding position coaches in college football. The finalists (Brian Brohm [Western Kentucky], Kirk Ciarrocca [Western Michigan], Jedd Fisch [Michigan], Lane Kiffin [Alabama], Lincoln Riley [Oklahoma], Brian Wright [Toledo] and Helton) were selected based off of nominations by coaches, athletic directors, and athletic department personnel. The prior winners selected this year's winner.
Helton will receive his award and be recognized at an event at the AFCA Convention in January.
Previous winners of the Quarterbacks Coach of the Year award are Josh Heupel (Oklahoma, 2008), Tom Rossley (Texas A&M, 2009), Mark Helfrich (Oregon, 2010 and 2012), Philip Montgomery (Baylor, 2011), Randy Sanders (Florida State, 2013), Kevin McGiven (Utah State, 2014) and Mike Sanford (Notre Dame, 2015).
9th Nationally - Passing Efficiency
10th Nationally - Comp. Percentage
18th Nationally - Yards Per Attempt
Rose Bowl record TD passes
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