Round 1 is over, but can we call it a draw? Yeah the Utes lost, but it was against USC, in the Coliseum, in their Pac 12 opener, and came down to the final play. Disappointing as it was, Utah played inspired and hung in there against a USC team with as much front line talent as any in the nation. They proved to the country and the conference that Utah football is going to be a force.
The loss was disappointing, especially with how it happened, having a would be game tying field goal blocked as time expired. It was discouraging at times with how the Trojans manhandled Utah on both sides of the line showing superior speed and strength. It was downright tough to watch at times as would be tacklers had issues bringing down USC players, who kept pushing for yards with Ute defenders on their backs. It was mind numbing to watch Jordan Wynn throw short pass after short pass as you begged for him to throw the ball down the field, if nothing more, than to try to open up the run game.
But mostly, it was inspiring to watch the Utes fight back, down 10 at two separate ventures of the game, and make this a nail biter that came down to that final play. It was inspiring to watch the defense bend, but not break, and force three USC turnovers, all in Utah territory, and two of them inside the 20 yard line, thwarting Trojan scoring opportunities. It was inspiring to see Wynn, with the obvious physical limitations, get up time and time again and complete passes to Dres Anderson and Devonte Christopher, including a 4th down at the sticks to keep the Utes alive put them in line to tie up the game. This team did not quit at any point during the game, despite being outplayed by a more talented group of players. They came up short, but gave an inspired effort.
There's still work to be done, and plenty of it. The offensive line is the giant question mark that we all feared it would be heading into the fall. John Cullen looked bad and the other two rocks in Tevita Stevens and Tony Bergstrom were not at their best. The run game was non-existant because of it and John White was unable to get into a rhythm. Jordan Wynn still appears to have problems. The ball is coming out with little velocity, and isn't spinning like it should. His shoulder is obviously hampering him. How Norm Chow and Brian Johnson can work on that to tailor the Utah offense to fit what Wynn is able to do, is going to be a big key in whether or not Utah has a successful year. The defensive line struggled to get pressure on Matt Barkley unless they blitzed and the linebackers looked over matched at times trying to bring down tacklers. The defensive backs were solid at times, but Ryan Lacy looks to be this year's DeVonte Christopher where you don't know what you're getting from one play to the next. The safeties were ok, preventing Barkley from airing it out deep too often, but Keith McGill still looks a bit lost out there and Eric Rowe is still showing signs of being a true freshman. The onslaught of penalties need to stop as soon as possible. The special teams speak for themselves with the blocked kick at the end. The Utes are a very coachable team and many of the mistakes that were made on Saturday are correctable.
With a less than formidable BYU squad coming up this week, followed by a bye week, the Utes need to buckle down, blow through the Cougars and get ready to for more of that grueling Pac 12 schedule against a Washington squad that put up 40 points on the WAC favorite. The USC battle may have technically been a loss, but like Jordan Wynn and the entire team did on Saturday, they're going to have to get up again and start throwing punches, because it's on to round 2 and this is going to be a long fight.
Utes Drop Heartbreaker at USC
Ute Zone Top Stories
Position Grades: Utah vs. USCSteve Bartle grades each position group following Utah's big 31-27 win over USC.
Ute ZoneYesterday at 1:09 AM
Video Recap: Utah vs. USCUteZone's Michelle Bodkin recaps Utah's thrilling win over USC Friday night.
Ute ZoneYesterday at 12:39 AM
Game Matchups: Utah Defense vs. USC OffenseUteZone breaks down the position matchups between the USC offense and the Utah defense in tonight's Pac-12 opener for the Utes.
Ute ZoneFriday at 9:43 AM
Dimick embodies 'Hometown Hero'Senior defensive end Hunter Dimick has truly been a "Hometown Hero" for the Utes. And his journey has been well worth the effort.
Ute ZoneThursday at 6:22 PM
Pac 12 Staff PicksPac 12 play is in full swing as the staff makes their picks for week 4
Ute ZoneThursday at 3:21 PM