It’s time to start feeling high energy about the Utah Utes. The Utes were able to put up 3 touchdowns in the second half and staged a major comeback victory over USC. It wasn’t the pathetic USC that played against Alabama and Stanford. This USC team would have beaten Stanford and given Alabama everything they could handle. It was a season defining comeback and shows that Utah is going to have a really good season.
So what the Hell happened?
In the first half it was clear that the Utes planned to run the ball and keep USC off the field. The plan was working. The offensive line was pushing back USC’s d-line and giving running lanes for the running backs. On the first few drives of the game Utah was getting 7 or 8 yards on every freaking run. Even after USC adjusted to stop the run and jammed the box, the Utah running backs were never getting stopped for losses.
However there was a big problem with the plan. USC’s offense was running wild over the Utah Utes defense. Utah couldn’t get a stop. However Utah was able to force 3 fumbles that kept USC from establishing a lead. Still USC had a kickoff return for a touchdown, kicked a field goal and on their last drive of the first half scored a touchdown to take a 17 to 10 lead at half time. Coming out of halftime, USC quickly stopped Utah and came down and got another touchdown. It was 24-10 and things were looking very low energy.
At this point, the Utah Utes weren’t going to be able to rely on their run game. The Utes had to throw if they were going to come back and make a game of it. As it turns out Troy Williams can throw. Troy Williams immediately led the Utes on a touchdown drive where he made a lot of really good throws into tight windows. After Utah got their touchdown to cut USC’s lead to 7 points, USC immediately came down the field and kicked a field goal to restore their 2 score lead going into the 4th quarter.
Things were looking bad because the Utah Utes had to score twice and give up nothing to a USC offense that was running wild all game long. Well as it turns out Troy Williams was able to lead Utah on back to back touchdown drives and the defense was able to cook up a 4th quarter stop and the Utes had a great 4th quarter comeback led by the offense. This is a huge game where the team came a long way and is starting to look like an elite team in all aspects of the game. Let’s look at what the Utes showed us against USC
Things we learned about the Utah Utes
Troy Williams is the best Utah Utes quarterback since at least Brian Johnson if not the man himself Alex Smith. That’s not really hard to do, but it’s nice to know that the Utes can rely on their passing game on demand. He made throw after throw into tight windows without risking interceptions. He was precise and knew exactly where he wanted to throw. He didn’t take any sacks. From the time that he had to take charge of the game in the second half Troy Williams was a dominant star.
The second big thing from this game was the offensive line was great. USC’s d-line isn’t what it once was but Utah absolutely manhandled them all game long. In the first half they were opening up big holes in the running game. USC had to collapse the box to stop the run. After USC jammed the box and the Utah Utes had to pass, the o-line gave up no sacks and gave Troy Williams tons of time to throw. They didn’t have any holding penalties and only a couple of false starts. They were every bit as good as we hoped coming into the season.
The Utah Utes have wide receivers. Tim Patrick chewed up Adore Jackson the USC star defensive back. But it wasn’t just him. All the receivers were getting open and holding onto the ball. They were able to make plays down in the Red Zone allowing Utah to get touchdowns instead of field goals. Tim Patrick looked like an NFL wide receiver. If he continues to produce like tonight and he runs a sub 4.55 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine expect him to get drafted in the first 3 rounds. The young receivers look like if they continue to develop they can have NFL futures.
Utah’s running game was really good. The running backs converted 4 4th and 1’s in the game. They converted a bunch of 3rd and 2 and 3rd and 3’s. They allowed the Utah Utes to hold the ball all first half and allowed Troy Williams to stay on the field in the second half because they converted every must make short yardage play. Yes, they had 2 fumbles and lost one but that was mostly due to the rainy weather. Zack Moss and Armand Shyne were excellent and deserve a lot of cccccrrrrreeeeeeeeeedddiiiittt.
In spite of the two fumbles, I think we should go ahead and call this a clean game. It was a cold wet and rainy evening. The Utes only lost one of them. The offense didn’t have a bunch of holding penalties and only had a couple of false starts. This is the kind of offensive performance that will get the Utah Utes to the Pac12 Championship Game and maybe beyond.
In spite of Utah’s great offensive performance there were some problems with the defense. The biggest problem is injuries are piling up on the D-line. Lowell Lotulelei got injured early in the game and didn’t come back. The announcers said it was a shoulder problem. He is a future NFL First Round Draft pick and losing him hurt big time.
The defense looked shaky all game long, but in their defense, after USC got their early 3rd quarter touchdown they held USC to 1 field goal and got a stop on a must stop series. They forced 3 turnovers, but again that mostly had to do with the weather, but still they forced the turnovers. A big part of the reason why the Utah Utes defense struggled against USC was because USC’s star players came to play tonight and put on their best performance of the year. Still the Utes defense got the stops when they needed to.
A quick word about USC
That was a really good USC performance tonight. Their new quarterback Sam Darnold is a star. If he had been the quarterback last week against Stanford, USC would have won. If he started against Alabama, USC would have given them a competitive game. He’s an NFL quarterback. I don’t know what USC’s coach was thinking but Sam Darnold needed to be the starter from day 1 for this USC team. USC’s offensive line was really good and did a great job all game. I wouldn’t be shocked if USC runs the table from here.
If USC loses more games it is going to be because of their defense. That d-line is weak. They can’t get any pressure on the quarterback. The linebackers had to play super close to the line of scrimmage to stop the Utah Utes from getting 6 or 7 yards on every carry. USC’s d-line didn’t put any pressure on Troy Williams and the linebackers played so close to the line that there were huge gaps between them and the safeties. Troy Williams could throw slants on every play due to that gap. Still with USC’s improved offense and their star power they are going to do well for the rest of the year.
It’s time to get high energy about this year’s Utah Utes team. They’ve beaten the teams they need to beat. The Utes grinded out a tough battle against BYU; where they survived a bunch of mistakes. The Utes offense came together, played a clean game in nasty weather and made big play after big play to come back and beat a desperate USC team.
The Utah offense looks like it has future NFL players at multiple positions. The o-line has several guys who are going to earn a very good living playing football. There are NFL players in the receiving corp. Troy Williams even has a chance to make an NFL roster as a backup, which is what you need if you are going to do well in a Power 5 Conference. Zack Moss looks like a future NFL running back. This is the kind of offense that it takes to be a legitimate contender in a Power 5 conference. So let’s enjoy this week’s victory and feel high energy about what we just witnessed against USC.
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