USC-Utah: the good, bad and noteworthy

Notes, quotes, numbers and lots of playing the blame game after USC loses again at the buzzer in a game the Trojans looked like they could have, and should have, been able to put away. Only they didn't . . . again.

Plenty of blame to go around for USC's 24-21 loss Saturday night at Utah. Penty of reasons cited. Many of them wrong.

*** USC just isn't very good they say . . . although any sensible person who knows football realizes the Trojans are more talented than the three teams they've lost to. And could have, and should have, won all three of those games. But it won't stop the people who like to kick players when they're down. Nice.

*** It's Cody's fault . . . or Wilcox's . . . or Nelson's . . . or Justin's . . . or Sark's and the blame game goes on for a USC team that played pretty solidly on defense and is getting better there despite the thinning ranks. And on offense saw Kessler open up with a sizzling 11 of 12 passing to start, hitting all but one of his first dozen throws, for an amazing 157 first-quarter yards but just one score. Much as it was for four games until last week when Juju Smith was taken out of the USC offense, the only person who could take Kessler out of the USC offense was calling the plays and going away from the pass game back to a run-first gameplan that Utah stuffed for a couple of quarters. And as much as USC fans had hoped there were lessons learned from the Boston College fiasco, apparently they were unlearned. So Sark, step up and take a bow for that.

*** At least no one is blaming Adoree Jackson . . . The freshman is beyond-belief talented and no moment seems too big for him. And as good as that 100-yard kickoff return from deep in the end zone was, and as easy as he made it look, his stripping the ball at the goal line was a better play. And had it not been whistled dead by the brain-dead Pac-12 crew that got almost nothing right in this one, Adoree might be in line for national player of the week honors with his own scoop-and-score that would have given him two TD returns from his own end zone in the same game. Has anyone ever done that before?

BY THE NUMBERS


1, 2001 1915

This was Utah's first win over USC since 2001. And USC's first loss to Utah in Salt Lake City since 1915.

48

The number of originally recruited scholarship players USC suited up Saturday night, the fewest all season, Previous low was 50 at Arizona. Lowest in recent years was last year at the Las Vegas Bowl when USC suited up just 44.

100, 100, 100, 100

Freshman Adoree Jackson joins an exclusive club with his 100-yard kickoff return. The only other Trojans who have done that are Marqise Lee in 2012 against Hawai'i and Anthony Davis, who did it twice in 1974 -- against Arkansas and Notre Dame.

6-48 4-25

USC again as it has in seven of eight games this year, piled up more penalties -- and penalty yards -- than its opponent although six for 48 yards is an improvement actually.

47,619

The Rice-Eccles Saturday crowd -- largest in Utah history and 29th straight sellout.

69.5, 75.0

Cody Kessler entered the game completing 69.5 percent of his passes, fourth best in the nation, and completed 75 percent here (24 of 32) for those who reflexively want to blame him, as they seem to always do.

9

Team-leading Utah number of tackles for Jared Norris, Cody Kessler's best friend and high school teammate from Bakersfield Centennial.

2,2

Leonard Williams and J.R. Tavai, who each forced a fumble, now have two forced fumbles apiece, tops for USC.

100, 200

Buck Allen somehow reached the 100-yard mark (101 yards on 27 carries for a 3.7 average) for the seventh time this season but USC, after hitting the the 200 yard mark in rushing for the last five games, the first time the Trojans have done that since 1982, fell short against Utah with just 100 net yards (a 2.7 average).

2.0, 2.0, 5.0, 8.0

USC actually outdid national leader Utah in tackles for losses with 8.0 for 36 yards to the Utes' five for 12. Both teams had 2.0 sacks although that was down from a national best average of 5.5 for Utah.

10, 9

Nelson Agholor's career-high 10 receptions surpassed his previous high of nine but no TDs for his 110 yards total.

Injury report:

OT Chad Wheeler will get an MRI on his injured knee while J.R. Tavai, who left the game not to return, said he'd be OK afterward . . . Gerald Bowman (sprained foot) and George Farmer (hamstring) did not dress . . . Ajene Harris did dress but did not play.

Quotables



SU'A CRAVENS On the loss: "It sucks to lose like this."

HAYES PULLARD On the last play: "It should never have come down to that point."

LEONARD WILLIAMS On a repeat of the game's end loss: "This is about the third time this year . . . we just need to finish . . . I thought we were going to win, to be honest, but it didn't happen . . . I think it's pretty tough for the seniors, this is their last year, they can't get this one back."

STEVE SARKISIAN On the way this season is going for USC: "We've been part of stuff this season that I have yet to experience in coaching . . . You could look at so many plays, just one play here or one play there . . . it really started with the second play of the game . . . I've never seen it happen before -- and it happened."

UTAH QB Travis Wilson On the game-winning play: "We knew we were going to score . . . We executed a play that was called really well."

UTAH RB Devontae Booker On how this went: "I'm speechless right now . . . we came back and fought our butt off to win this game."

UTAH COACH KYLE WHITTINGHAM On USC: "USC is one heck of a football team . . . they could be one of the most talented teams, man for man, in the conference so I am proud of the way our guys hung in there and slugged it out for the entire 60 minutes."

You can follow me on Twitter at @dweber3440 or email me at weber@uscfootball.com.


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