UTAH UTES

Sione Vaki Puts Utah On Board Early Against USC Trojans

Oct 21, 2023, 6:16 PM

Sione Vaki Utah Utes Football Cal Golden Bears USC Trojans...

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - OCTOBER 14: Sione Vaki #28 of the Utah Utes runs to the endzone for a touchdown against the California Golden Bears during the second half of their game at Rice-Eccles Stadium October 14, 2023 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES – On just the third play of the game, QB Bryson Barnes found Sione Vaki who ran around the defense and into the end zone.

The score was Vaki’s third of the season.

Vaki didn’t take long to show off his offensive game which was on full display against Cal.

He posted 15 carries for 158 yards and two touchdowns.

RELATED: Utah Safety Sione Vaki Named Paul Hornung Player Of Week

USC also showed some quick offense on the following drive.

Marshawn Lloyd took a handoff 45 yards to the house to tie the game at 7.

Three Storylines For Utah Football Vs. USC

  1. Cam Rising. This storyline took one more interesting turn this week when Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham revealed it would be possible for Rising to return next season with a medical redshirt as long as he doesn’t play a down of football this year. Now, nothing is in motion for that yet and there is no guarantee that Rising would even want to do that, but the possibility is there. With that said, the Utes will be rolling with Bryson Barnes this week in Los Angeles.
  2. Sione Vaki & Ja’Quinden Jackson. In step with storyline number one, it seems Utah found a formula they like on offense without Cam Rising. Bryson Barnes is part of it, but perhaps most importantly is the one-two punch in the run game they found with safety Sione Vaki and running back Ja’Quinden Jackson. It will be critically important that the Utes find that same lightening and keep it up against the Trojans. If they do that, they may have a fighting chance.
  3. Utah’s Dominant Defense. The one thing that has gone well for the Utes all season has been the defense and they will need them to do it again on Saturday. Caleb Williams and the Trojans showed last week again Notre Dame that they do not handle being bullied very well. Utah’s defense is more than capable of replicating that, but they will need to be on their game and as disciplined as ever.

 

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Two Questions Heading Into Utah Vs. USC

  1. Can Utah Pass Just A Little More? Vaki and Jackson really opened some things up for the Utah offense through the run game which also opened up some things for the pass game. The unfortunate thing was that while Barnes was efficient in the pass game, he did miss some big play possibilities by hesitating just a bit on some open plays. Hit one or two more of those and this offense is looking more than adequate. The plays were there. Barnes has shown he’s capable of hitting them at random conjunctions, but can he get into more of a rhythm and hit them confidently?
  2. Can Utah Manage Without Cole Bishop In The First Half? This feels like a slightly stupid question since this Utah defense is loaded, but continuity can me a lot to a unit and missing a key piece has the potential to be disruptive. Thankfully the Utes do have Nate Ritchie to fall back on in the first half and he’s certainly no slouch. Still, can this defense not miss a beat without one of their best players in the mix in the first half?

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Chandler Holt is a co-host for the Jazz Notes podcast and a Digital Sports Producer for KSLSports.com, specializing in all things basketball and football. Follow Chandler on Twitter @ChandlerHoltKSL or on Threads @chandlerho1t.

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Sione Vaki Puts Utah On Board Early Against USC Trojans