Could USC Provide The Statement Game The Utes Need?
SALT LAKE CITY- Utah hasn’t quite lived up to the preseason hype in 2022 with two losses under their belt at the halfway point. This isn’t to say the Utes have been bad, because they haven’t. Losses are a part of the game, but they also haven’t yet shown that “extra gear” most thought they would have based off of how they finished the 2021 season and who was returning. Could USC provide the type of statement game the Utes need to get back on track?
Is it Saturday night yet⁉️
— Utah Athletics (@utahathletics) October 13, 2022
The No. 7 Trojans will be rolling into Rice-Eccles Saturday night at 6 p.m. MT undefeated and looking to keep that streak intact for the 2022 season. USC also most likely hasn’t forgotten the beatdown Utah put on them a year before in the Coliseum. On the other hand, the Utes also haven’t forgotten it or the events that led to the epic performance. In fact, in a way, they will be recreating that mood by celebrating the life and legacies of Ty Jordan and Aaron Lowe during the game with their annual hand painted helmets. Basically, this game is going to be huge and emotional for both sides for different reasons.
USC certainly looks like the kind of team that if Utah can beat them, could be a major turning point in the season, much like they were in 2021.
A Closer Look At Utes Opponent USC
After years of disappointing performances under former head coach Clay Helton, USC finally went for the “big splash” hire luring Lincoln Riley away from Oklahoma. While at Oklahoma, Riley built up an impressive resume from 2017-2021 with a record of 55-10, two Heisman quarterbacks, and three College Football Playoff appearances. While it is still early in Riley’s tenure with the Trojans, it certainly looks like he’s got a team that had so much potential back on track as they currently sit 6-0.
Caleb Williams looks to be the next great quarterback under Riley’s watch. Since transferring from Oklahoma to USC over the summer, Williams has completed 122 of 188 passes in 2022. Williams has also amassed 1,590 yards, 14 touchdowns and one interception at the halfway point with a QBR of 83.1 which is good for 11th in the country.
— Caleb Williams (@CALEBcsw) October 5, 2022
Helping to catch those Williams bombs is wide receiver Jordan Addison who also came to USC via the transfer portal from Pittsburgh. The 2021 Biletnikoff winner is responsible for 32 catches so far this season for 479 yards and six touchdowns. Addison has been averaging about 15-yards per play and will present a fun challenge for Utah cornerback Clark Phillips III.
When USC decides to run the ball, Travis Dye is their guy. Dye is another transfer to the Trojans from Oregon and has currently racked up 90 carries for 571 yards and six touchdowns. The talented back is also no slouch with his hands and has 13 receptions on the year for 114 yards.
While the offense gets most of the love for USC, their defense has some ballers on it as well.
Linebacker Eric Gentry leads the Trojans in tackles with 43 so far in 2022. He also has one sack, two passes defended and one interception to his name.
Defensive lineman Tuli Tuipulotu is the man the Trojans will look to when it comes to pressuring the quarterback. We may just be halfway through the season, but Tuipulotu already has accumulated seven sacks along with 21 total tackles and two passes defended.
USC has two defensive backs who know how to take advantage of a situation when it presents itself. Mekhi Blackmon and Calen Bullock both have two interceptions on the year, with one of Bullock’s being a pick six while Blackmon also adds five passes defended.
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