It wasn’t what you would call a night to remember.
It started off with a lot of promise for a game that would seemingly put one team in position for a spot in the conference title game, as the Trojans connected on a jump-ball pass to Michael Pittman and then Jay Tufele got a big-man dream play with a scoop and score in his hometown, and before you knew it the score was 14-0 Trojans.
But that, unfortunately, was about it on the good as the Utes proceeded to run off 34 points in a row through the 2nd and 3rd quarters on their way to a 41-28 victory.
Utah outgained USC 541 to 205. Utah had a 10 minute time of possession advantage, and ran 81 plays compared to 54 for USC. The Utes defense held the Trojans to nine 3 & out possessions. And to add injury to insult, Utah knocked USC quarterback J.T. Daniels from the game after the true freshman completed only 6 of 16 passes for 89 yards with the TD to Pittman and two interceptions (Matt Fink hit on 6 of 7 passes for 43 yards and a touchdown in relief of Daniels).
It was the latest defeat this season where the Trojans started strong, faced some adversity, and were unable to respond. It’s not what people are used to seeing from the USC football program and the questions are getting louder for Clay Helton and staff. What is with the consistent inability to establish a run game? We see it every now and then but too often it disappears. We have too many problems with tackling on defense, is this a direct result of how little we tackle in practice?
These are some of the many questions for Helton because they keep on popping up and they don’t seem to be getting addressed, no matter how times Helton says he will have to go back and watch the tape. During the recent bye week Helton talked about the need for self-scouting and how that can help identify tendencies, and it seems as if the Trojans are a team that could benefit from mixing things up more than they do.
Whatever the case, you are at a critical point in the season. USC sits now at 4-3, 3-2 in conference, and behind Utah at the moment in the tie-breaker. The next three games on the schedule (ASU, Oregon State and Cal) figure to be games in the win column for the Trojans (hopefully) but the Bruins are playing better offense so you never know where that game will be by the time it rolls around and, of course, the Irish are rolling at the moment and that’s going to be an all-hands-on-deck kind of game.
Darrell Rideaux and I break down to the Trojans 41-28 loss to Utah