The USC Trojans are now 1-3 at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum after a 42-26 loss to the visiting Utah Utes.
Utah did everything better than USC in this game, and they found a way to score four unanswered touchdowns from the four-minute mark in the second quarter until 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter when the Trojans scored their second touchdown of the game.
The Trojans failed twice in the red zone on the second and third drive, though they got three points in one of the two trips, and they were able to get a touchdown on the fourth drive because of USC junior wide receiver Drake London’s will to punch it in.
After the touchdown, they were unable to get out of their side of the field on five straight drives while Utah was getting the ball and scoring.
USC junior quarterback Kedon Slovis acknowledged the issues they had.
“I think the main thing is, we just can’t stay behind the sticks,” he said postgame. “I have to go back and look at it, but every time we got stopped, we had a penalty or sack to get us behind the sticks. When we play a defense that makes us take 10 or 15 plays to score, you just can’t do that. … Our goal is to win every game left on that schedule. We’re good enough to, and we have the guys to do it. That goal doesn’t change just because we lose a game here or there. So again, nothing changes.”
Here are the winners and losers.
Winner: Utah QB Cameron Rising
Rising looked really good out there against the Trojans, and he made the defense look really bad. He finished the game with 306 passing yards and three touchdowns on 22-for-28 throwing as well as 27 rushing yards and a touchdown on six attempts.
The USC defense made a few good stops, but they were overshadowed by the dominance of Utah’s offense.
Loser: Donte Williams and Todd Orlando
USC interim head coach Donte Williams and USC defensive coordinator Todd Orlando haven’t had a great defense all season long despite having some really solid players on the field. It begs the question of where the issues on defense are coming from — the coaching or the players on the field.
The defense allowed over 300 yards in the air and 180 yards on the ground.
“For a moment there, at quarterback, it was like he just couldn’t miss, you know, whether it was over the top or underneath coverages, we weren’t doing enough,” Williams said postgame. “We got to make sure we come into the bye week and focus on us, we got a lot of things we need to clean up as a team, and we’re gonna focus on those things and make sure we clean them up. … Any time a big play happens, it’s gonna be what we call, what we don’t call it. At the same time, credit to Utah because they capitalized on them. We have to make sure those things don’t happen. Way too many big plays on that field tonight, not in our favor.”
USC redshirt junior safety Chase Williams wasn’t happy losing at the Coliseum again.
“I mean, this is our home — so to be completely real, I mean, they suck, but we have to find a way, get out of this hole, figure it out, and come back to the [Coliseum], get a [win] and get this thing rolling,” he said after the game. “It hurts, but we gotta figure it out. … I think defensively, they weren’t doing anything too different. I think personally, we gotta get back to the drawing board and execute better. They were doing simple things, and obviously, we knew they were going to run the ball. They made some one-on-one plays better than we did, but it was nothing different than what we’ve seen.”
Loser: Graham Harrell
One of the brightest spots of this offense is London, but he can’t do it all — despite already doing so much. He finished the game with 162 receiving yards and a touchdown on 16 receptions. He was one reception shy of Robert Woods’ single-game record.
The running game wasn’t effective once again solely because they were down and had to throw a lot to get back in the game. USC senior running back Keaontay Ingram led the way with 70 yards on 14 carries, redshirt sophomore Darwin Barlow had 29 yards on six carries, and redshirt senior Vavae Malepeai had a half-dozen yards on three carries.
“I thought we moved the ball pretty well, to be honest with you early on,” Harrell said postgame. “You know, we had to settle for two field goals in the red zone again and missed one of them. … To be honest with you, I thought early on, running backs were running the ball really well — running the ball pretty efficiently. [We] didn’t finish a couple drives that hurt, and if you do, the score is different and maybe get them in more of an uncomfortable position.”
Williams was asked about his message on accountability.
“It’s a process,” he said. “Saturday is all about the work that you put in and you go put to work on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday — throughout the week. It’s the process on Saturday. It sucks that at home, you can’t see the finished product or that process. Right, so that’s where it’s a disconnect. So if you look at the accountability in that locker room. Yes, I do like the way that we’re going accountability-wise, and a lot of things that we change and the players have stepped up and done it, but at the same time, it’s a process. So with the finished product on Saturday, it hasn’t shown a reward in which it should.”
USC goes into a much-needed bye week before going to Indiana to face No. 14 Notre Dame.