Utah is known to be a hardnose, physical, football team, so it was that much more surprising to see USC come out and punch Utah in the mouth. USC looked like the better, more aggressive, football team on Saturday and the score proved it to be so. The loss of linebacker Jared Norris showed to be a HUGE loss for Utah’s defense. That, coupled with Tevin Carter’s nagging injuries, left Utah’s defense without two of their most physical, tough run stoppers. Chase Hansen saw significant reps at safety and while I believe he’ll turn out to be a terrific safety one day, if that’s where he ultimately ends up playing, he was not ready for this talented USC team. I’ve seen tweets that the Utes gave up and didn’t want to play. While I’m not going to pretend to know the psychological mindset of the team I believe that simply not knowing assignments and being hesitant was the real root of the problem.
USC’s first touchdown of the game.
On this play Carter & Whittingham don’t seem to really know their assignments. Once the play gets rolling you’ll see they seem to almost jog. I think they’re being more hesitant because they don’t know exactly what to do. Perhaps Carter wasn’t at full strength. That’s another reason why perhaps he doesn’t seem to be giving a full effort.
You’ll see #10 for USC give the key block on this run. This block was against Uaea Masina who has not had a ton of reps this year. I think Uaea will be a great linebacker for the Utes, but you can’t let yourself get blocked by a WR that badly.
Check out the play live. To me Carter & Whittingham seem out of place and Masina just flat out gets moved out of any position he had.
2nd & goal from the 18
On this play I’ve highlighted both Whittingham and Hansen. Whittingham gets himself out of position to make a play on the ball and Hansen with limited reps just doesn’t know how to tackle very well yet. Watch these two players on the live play. We’ve become accustomed to Norris & Carter being able to clog these holes in the past.
Travis Wilson’s first INT
Travis made some terrible throws in this game. Instead of pointing out every single one I’ve decided to focus on his 1st INT before he really got rattled. USC dropped back a lot of guys into short passing routes and then brought different blitzes. It seemed to really confuse Wilson and took away his short throws which he has been relying on a ton this year. To counteract this, Utah should have thrown some deeper seam routes over the top of the LB’s to help open some things up underneath.
This is what Wilson is looking at presnap. Looks like he accounted for the blitz on the right side and thought Covey would be open. What he didn’t account for was the linebacker sliding over to help cover that side of the field. Travis did a horrible job in locking down on one receiver. The linebacker simply followed Wilson’s eyes and was able to make the INT.
USC dropped two lineman into coverage to help protect against those short routes over the middle.
Travis only looked at one receiver. The O-line picked up the blitz pretty well. If he would’ve just stepped into the pocket and took more time he wouldn’ve seen Covey was not open. The pocket was there Wilson just made a bad decision.
After that first INT by Wilson he really seemed to be rattled. The offense didn’t make the necessary adjustments and the thing that really irked me the most was that Booker only ran the ball 14 times. I have confidence the Utah coaching staff will make adjustments and learn from some of their offensive mistakes.
Defensively I think Utah fell victim to not having enough depth at linebacker and safety. There were guys out of position and it showed, as they were hesitant in their game. The physical run stopping team that we’re all used to, was lacking key leadership with the absence of Norris. We’re still young in those positions but I think with more game time and honestly a little less talented teams I think Utah will be fine. They’ll be able to clean up mistakes and I think guys will be better prepared to make plays going forward.
Until next time – Go Utes!
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