USC football went to Salt Lake City and let control of the Pac-12 South slip through their fingers with an atrocious performance against Utah.
The Trojans have had worse losses under Clay Helton, but the 41-28 loss to Utah on Saturday night was a particularly dire outing.
Outclassed on offense and defense by a Pac-12 South rival, there was little about the performance to hang a hat on.
How did the Week 8 loss come to be? The unit-by-unit report card explains it:
The loss of Porter Gustin to injury added pressure on the Trojan defensive line, who needed to find new ways to generate a pass rush. They succeeded in part, with Christian Rector leading the way off the edge as USC sacked Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley five times.
Rector himself was responsible for two of those sacks, and he could have doubled that total had he been able to tackle more consistently. If nothing else, the performance was proof that Rector has what it takes to stand in Gustin’s shoes. With 10 tackles and 3.5 total tackles for loss, he was nothing if not active.
On most other days, Jay Tufele would have drawn the headlines with his scoop-and-score touchdown to put the Trojans up 14-0 early. It was a huge moment for the youngster from Utah.
Others made their mark at times. Malik Dorton batted down a pass at the line of scrimmage, Marlon Tuipulotu notched a sack and Connor Murphy took advantage of the extra playing time afforded him by Gustin’s injury to clean up on a tackle for loss near the goal line.
Unfortunately, the line visibly tired as the game went on. With USC’s offense unable to sustain a drive and Utah’s play-count rising, it was bound to happen. Huntley took advantage of the extra time to throw while the Ute ground game racked up 200 yards on the ground.