USC vs. Utah Match Up


The USC Trojans will face the Utah Utes in the Pac-12 season opener this Saturday. Though the Trojans did defeat Minnesota last week, a cloud of uncertainty still hangs over the team after the offense’s poor second half performance.

Matt Barkley will be slinging it against Utah this Saturday

The Utes will be bringing a significantly more skilled squad to the Coliseum, and if the Trojans play like they did last week, they will find it difficult to win this game.

Running back Marc Tyler will return as a playmaker for the Trojans this week after a month long suspension. With his strength and size added to the running back corps, we should see an injection of power into the running game, a power that was sorely lacking during the dogfight with Minnesota last week.

Tyler should be able to utilize open running lanes if Utah’s preperation is done based on game film from last week, as the emphasis was heavily placed on the passing game. Matt Barkley and his wide receivers seem to have established a good rhythm, but expect the Utes to have at least two bodies on Robert Woods at all times after last weeks record-breaking performance.

The Trojans will be hard pressed to utilize our other receivers—Brice Butler, Brandon Carswell, Marquis Lee and Kyle Prater—and showcase their versatile talents in an effort to exploit the added attention that will undoubtedly be paid to Woods. Assuming that the Trojan offensive gameplan is implimented effectively, there should be some gawdy numbers put up this week as  the raw talent of the USC offense severely overmatches that of Utah, especially in the secondary.

This knowledge isn’t helping Coach Kiffin sleep well, however, and upon examining the war in the trenches, its easy to see why.

The Trojans haven’t faced a physical D-Line in awhile, and our guys will have their hands full trying to protect Barkley and give him enough time to get the ball off. Coach Kiffin only seems to be confident in potential first round draft pick Matt Kalil and center Khaled Holmes, so it will be interesting to see what he has them do this week.

On the defensive front, our D-line showed that they are a force to be reckoned with.

If Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn—who didn’t see serious action against Montana State but will definitely see it this week—is to keep his surgically-repaired shoulder in tact, then Utah’s O-line will need to bring it. Wynn completed 15 passes for 101 yards last week, indicative of the Utes’ plan to protect his shoulder and implement a less taxing short passing game .

If that is to be the case this week, USC’s linebackers and secondary should be able to sit on shorter routes and create potential turnovers. The bigger issue, however, will be maintaining a solid front seven against the run. Utah’s running backs combined for 216 yards on 31 carries. This success came against Montana State, but if they’re able to achieve a fraction of that success against the Trojans it creates a potential problem with playaction passing.

Former standout running back Stafon Johnson

This is also Utah’s first ever Pac-12 game, so anticipate them to come with a few jitters, but overall, hungry and ready to take down USC. Ultimately, the game will come down to being able to keep Jordan Wynn and the Utes’ offense in  long down situations, as this will allow the defense to pin their ears back and attack the injured qb unabated.

Though USC didn’t show it last week, they possess all the tools necessary to win this Pac-12 South match-up. And they better win, because if not it is going to be a long, long season.

I predict the final score will be 35-17, with another big game from Heisman hopeful Matt Barkley. Kick-off is at 4:30, so at that time be ready for a (hopefully) impressive performance from the Trojans that will set the tone for the rest of the regular season competition.

Game on.