Another road Pac 12 game. Another embarrassing performance as Utah's offense was beyond inefficient in a 19-3 loss.
It was one of the uglier losses of the Whittingham era, looking very similar to the 2011 and 2012 team on offense with bland play calling, an injured quarterback, and not enough playmakers. An offense that let down a defense that put up a world class performance.
Defensively, there's not much to complain about. The line bounced back and had their best performance of the season. They looked like an elite group, one that could play with pretty much any offense. The linebackers were very good as well, again. The safeties had a good day. They weren't tested much with the line and linebackers taking care of the run game, and USC not throwing much downfield or over the middle. The corners weren't terrible, but the 8 yard cushions on 3rd and 4 let an inaccurate Cody Kessler make easy throws.
Are there concerns at quarterback? Absolutely. Is it as bad as it seems? Probably not. Travis Wilson is still the quarterback of this team. When he's healthy, he'll still be a good quarterback. Wilson just needs to use these weeks off to rest up, heal, and improve his off the field game. Schulz
The offensive line took another step back this week. After the impressive performance against Stanford, the big boys have had back-to-back duds, with this being the worst performance of the season. To really see just how bad it was, Utah's preseason all american candidate, Jeremiah Poutasi, was destroyed on four plays during Utah's first drive. It's not that Poutasi was eventually beat because the USC corners had the receivers locked down. He wasn't even close to slowing down the SC pass rushers, putting Wilson in peril. It continued throughout the game. Aiono didn't have the same issues, but still wasn't good. The interior had little to no push in the run game. A disgraceful performance.
The receivers and backs? It's simple. Utah just doesn't have the talent at those spots to beat a defense like USC.
So what's next? It's a bye week followed by Arizona State. You have two weeks to fix this or the Sun Devils will do what lesser teams in Arizona and USC did. I don't even want to think about what might happen at Oregon the following week if Utah doesn't make serious strides.
What should they do?
First, figure out the quarterback situation. If Travis Wilson isn't healthy, he's not helping the team. If that means sitting until then, so be it. With the bye week coming, he'll have a week to rest, and it needs to be a week of study, study, study. Wilson is still the quarterback of this team.
Next, shuffle the offensive line in some way. Sometimes, a change, just for the sake of making one and trying something new, can be a good thing. Let the players know that these spots aren't gifted to them.
Third, recruit your butts off this week. Utah had zero playmakers against USC, and still has a limited number of them with limited skills. They need elite guys with elite speed that scare other teams. Dres Anderson is the only offensive player that other teams worry about. Utah must have at least three of those guys to be competitive at the Pac 12 level. It's a bye week. Go out and get better players.
Four, change your approach. The current approach to road games isn't working. I asked Whittingham in the post-game press conference if they needed to change how they prepare for road games, and the approach they take before those games. He responded that their approach worked in other conference's, so there's no need to change it. It seems broken. Might be time to tinker.
Don't just tinker with the approach though. A lot needs to be changed.
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