Caleb Williams was on track for a huge game until his hamstring popped. Then he became just another QB. He’ll win the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night but Lincoln Riley should have at least taken him out for a series or two to see what difference a healthy QB would have made.
Was USC unable to run or did Lincoln Riley refuse to? Austin Jones averaged 2.1 yards per carry in one of the worst team rushing performances for the Trojans this season.
The good news was 10 different players caught passes. The bad news was no one exactly had a dominating performance. If you take away Jordan Addison’s 48-yard reception (where the cornerback fell), he had four receptions for 17 yards.
The easy excuse is to focus on the absence of Andrew Vorhees. But the entire line was manhandled by Utah’s defense and some season-long shortcomings became exposed once Caleb Williams lost his ability to miraculously avoid the pass rush. Some portrayed the line as a team strength this season. This game showed what a farce that idea was.
Not a great sign when two Utah tailbacks each averaged eight yards per carry. Or that Cameron Rising was sacked just one time. They were pushed around just a week after shutting down Notre Dame’s running game.
The transfer portal is going to be vital here to upgrade especially after the departure of Ralen Goforth. USC needs more linebackers like Eric Gentry because it’s uncertain right now the defensive line will be any better next season.
Who teaches these guys how to tackle? If they were trying to strip the ball instead of tackle, the coaches should have done something about it. This wasn’t the first time the secondary looked silly this season. It’s what happens when you play soft zone most of the game.
It didn’t impact the game but Tuasivi Nomura’s lateral over the head of Raleek Brown on a kick return was inexplicable. One more example of USC needing a special teams coach.
In a big game, Lincoln Riley made questionable decisions, like going for it on fourth-and-8 in the first half and a run on third-and-18. Worse was USC punting with 17 seconds left on the play clock and 1:50 in the half, which helped allow Utah to score a late TD. The defense couldn’t figure out how to tackle and still couldn’t cover a tight end. Alex Grinch needs a long look in the mirror.