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Five Players That Stood Out In Utah’s Season Opener Against USC

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah didn’t get a win in their season opener against USC, but the young players for the Utes showed a lot of promise.

Utah fell to the Trojans, 33-17 at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday. Despite giving up 33 points to USC, Utah’s defense performed better than expected. Offensively, they turned the ball over 5 times and USC was set up in prime field position multiple times.

The young Utah defense held USC to 93 rushing yards and 264 passing yards. The offense struggled at times but had some bright spots throughout the game.

Here is the Crimson Corner’s five standout performers from Utah’s season opener.

Ty Jordan, Running Back

The true freshman made his collegiate debut on Saturday against USC. The big, fast and physical running back racked up 32 yards on seven carries. Jordan gained 21 yards on a screen pass as well.

Kyle Whittingham mentioned after the game that they should have given him more touches. Jordan was one of four running backs to get at least one rush attempt on Saturday. He finished with the most rushing yards.

Nephi Sewell, Linebacker

During the off-season, Sewell made the switch from safety to linebacker. Through that process, he gained more weight to become a linebacker. Against USC, defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley decided to move Sewell to safety and allow freshman Sione Fotu to play linebacker. Utah played five defensive backs in their scheme on Saturday but it was a different look.

Rather than the typical nickel package with two safeties, two cornerbacks and a nickel back, the Utes moved Sewell to safety to play alongside Vonte Davis and Nate Ritchie. Rather than using Malone Mataele at nickel, Utah had three safeties and two cornerbacks against the Trojans.

Sewell had a massive impact on Saturday, recording the second most tackles on the team with 10, including two tackles for loss, an interception and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. It was Utah’s first touchdown of the 2020 season.

Clark Phillips III, Cornerback

Utah’s highest rated recruit in school history had a great showing in his debut. Phillips was tasked with defending two NFL caliber receivers in Amon-Ra St. Brown and Tyler Vaughns in his collegiate debut.

While racking up the third most tackles on the team with 9, Phillips made great tackles in the open field and nearly had a pick-six. USC wide receiver Bru McCoy had an out-route that Phillips nearly jumped the route and picked off the pass. Had he shifted one second sooner, Phillips would’ve picked off the pass.

Being thrown into the starting role as a true freshman and facing future NFL receivers, Phillips held his own and showed why he is the highest rated recruit in Utah history.

Solomon Enis, Wide Receiver

Entering the 2020 season, expectations were high for junior wide receiver Solomon Enis. A highly-touted prospect from Arizona, Enis hasn’t shown Utah fans the best part of his game. On Saturday, he made the first step to doing that. Enis finished with three catches for 42 yards. One reception was in the second half on a critical fourth and five, where Jake Bentley threw the ball towards the sideline. Enis caught the pass with a defender on his back and it kept Utah’s drive alive.

On the last drive of the game, Bentley went deep and connected with Enis on a 25-yard completion with two defenders swarming him. Fans should expect big things from Enis this season.

Devin Kaufusi, Defensive End

The BYU transfer made his debut in Utah red (technically black for the USC game) and he showed a lot of potential. Kaufusi recorded 3 tackles, 2 solo tackles and a tackle for loss. While rushing Kedon Slovis, Kaufusi was able to use his 6’7 frame to break up a pass attempt.

Utah has a young core on the defensive line. It will be interesting to watch Kaufusi’s development while at Utah.

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.