CRIMSON CORNER

Three Storylines That Could Determine Winner Of Utah/USC Game

Nov 20, 2020, 12:17 PM | Updated: 5:41 pm

Utah Utes running back Devin Brumfield (6) gets tackled by USC Trojans cornerback Greg Johnson (9) ...

Utah Utes running back Devin Brumfield (6) gets tackled by USC Trojans cornerback Greg Johnson (9) and USC Trojans safety Talanoa Hufanga (15) during a college football game between the Utah Utes and The USC Trojans on September 20, 2019, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

(Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – As they say, third time’s the charm. That’s what Utah is hoping for when they take the field on Saturday against the 20th ranked USC Trojans at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

After having their first two games against Arizona and UCLA canceled, Utah is expected to begin the 2020 season against the team that is projected to win the Pac-12 South Division.

Utah is attempting to win their third straight South Division title. According to the Pac-12 game cancellation and tiebreaker guidelines, the Utes are still in contention for a third consecutive appearance in the Pac-12 Championship game despite having their first two games canceled.

Here is the Crimson Corner’s three storylines that could determine the winner of Utah’s season opener against USC.

1. Shaking Off Rust Fast

When Utah takes the field on Saturday, it will have been 326 days since their last game, which was the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 31, 2019. Normally, Utah would’ve played a spring football game. In a normal season, the Utes would be entering the final 2 games of the regular season rather than just starting their campaign. That’s a lot of rust to shake off when college football players are playing their first game of a season at the end of November.

Another factor going into this game is getting the players back and up to speed this week for those that had to be isolated due to COVID-19.

It will take some time early on to get things going on both sides of the ball. With a young and inexperienced defense along with a new quarterback and running back group on offense, the faster Utah can shake off the rust, the better off they will be.

2. JaTravis Broughton/Clark Phillips III vs. Amon-Ra St. Brown/Tyler Vaughns

Sophomore JaTravis Broughton and true freshman Clark Phillips III will have their hands full with dynamic USC wide receiver duo Amon-Ra St. Brown and Tyler Vaughns. The Trojans’ tandem combined for 151 receptions for 1,954 yards and 12 TD’s in 2019. This season, Vaughns and St. Brown have 28 combined catches for 336 yards and no touchdowns.

Between Broughton and Phillips, they have played 14 games (all Broughton) and have zero combined starts. As a competitor, you couldn’t ask for a better challenge than defending two NFL caliber receivers in your first college start. The matchup doesn’t favor Utah on paper, but that’s why you play the game.

During fall camp, Phillips worked hard to become the starting right cornerback. He will also provide value at the nickel back position as he received a bunch of reps early in camp at that position. The highest rated recruit in Utah football history is the backup to Malone Mataele at nickel back. Broughton has been talked about highly by the coaches as Utah’s No. 1 cornerback. A new era for Utah’s secondary begins on Saturday night.

3. Getting An Effective Pass Rush

After watching the first two games of the 2020 season for USC, it’s apparent that quarterback Kedon Slovis is a young pocket passer. Getting a pass rush on him, getting him uncomfortable and out of the pocket will be critical to Utah’s success.

The Utes have the pieces to accomplish that with Mika Tafua and Maxs Tupai as the returning veterans at the defensive end positions. Blake Kuithe, Van Fillinger and Xavier Carlton have not played a college football snap in their careers but have been standouts during fall camp.

If the Utes can get an effective pass rush on Slovis and flush him out of the pocket, it will make things easier for the young secondary, facing USC’s air raid offense.

Utah and USC will kickoff on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASportsYou can download and listen to the podcast, here.

  • Utah Utes Scoreboard

  • Utah Utes Team Leaders

  • Utah Utes Standings

Crimson Corner

George Kliavkoff - Pac-12 Media Day...

Michelle Bodkin

Utes Bulletin: Things Happening In Utah Athletics (Week Of 7/17/23)

It's Pac-12 Media Day week which means we are closer to the 2023 Utah football season and the Utes Bulletin gets football heavy once again.

7 months ago

Steve-F-Hallsey-Participates-In-Athletes-For-Life-Football-Camp-At-Union-High-With-Lisa-Mitzel...

Michelle Bodkin

Former Utah Football Star, DC Steve F. Hallsey Discusses Athletes For Life Experience

Former Utah football star and DC Steve F. Hallsey discusses his experience with Athletes For Life's at the Uintah-Ouray Ute Reservation.

7 months ago

Utah-Utes-Pylon-South-Endzone-Rice-Eccles-Stadium...

Michelle Bodkin

Utes Bulletin: Things Happening In Utah Athletics (Week Of 6/26/23)

Can you believe it's the final week of June? Soon the Utes Bulletin will be prepping you all for Pac-12 Media Day and Fall Camp.

8 months ago

Rice-Eccles-Stadium-Ken-Garff-Red-Zone-Shot-With-Scoreboard-Utah-Football-Fan-Guide...

Michelle Bodkin

Instagram Account Shares Cool Picture Of Ute Stadium From 1938

Utah football has come a long way and it's fun to take a step back to really appreciate the growth of the program through social media.

8 months ago

Brant Kuithe - Utah Utes vs. Ohio State - Rose Bowl Game...

Michelle Bodkin

Utes Bulletin: Things Happening In Utah Athletics (Week Of 6/12/23)

It's officially the summer “break” for Utah Athletics, but the Utes Bulletin will continue on with points of interest in the weeks ahead.

8 months ago

Branden-Carlson-Against-Washington-At-The-Huntsman-Center...

Michelle Bodkin

Utes Bulletin: Things Happening In Utah Athletics (Week Of 6/5/23)

It's officially summer "break" for Utah Athletics, but the Utes Bulletin will continue on with key points of interest as they come.

9 months ago

Sponsored Articles

ksl-sports-newsletter...

KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.

...

KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

Follow @kslsports...

The Road Home Mediathon 2023

The KSL Sports Zone and KSLSports.com are proud to support the all-day Mediathon 2023 at the Road Home, an annual tradition to raise money and other essential items for the Road Home, a Homeless Shelter.

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.

Jordan-Clarkson-Utah-Jazz...

KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.

Three Storylines That Could Determine Winner Of Utah/USC Game