USC football’s studs and duds from a weirdly-comfortable win over Utah

USC football receiver Bru McCoy. (Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports)
USC football receiver Bru McCoy. (Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports) /
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USC football receiver Bru McCoy. (Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports)
USC football receiver Bru McCoy. (Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports) /

USC football’s defense turned the corner while the offense is still a question

It’s rare indeed for USC football to go to Salt Lake City and win a football game. It’s even rarer for a game against Utah to go down without drama or intrigue.

The Trojans managed it on Saturday with a 33-17 victory over the Utes to maintain an undefeated record.

Who stood out? What concerned? You know what time it is…

The studs for USC football vs. Utah

The linebackers

What a difference a week makes! The single biggest change for USC’s defense against Utah was the performance of the inside linebackers, who finally found their footing after a dismal first two weeks. Ralen Goforth and Kana’i Mauga got the start and each shined. Goforth led the team with 12 tackles, adding two pass breakups and a tackle for loss. Mauga came second with 11 tackles, one sack and an additional tackle for loss.

The defensive front

Sorry for the cop-out of collective studs, but it would be unfair not to mention the entirety of USC’s defensive front. The brothers Tuipulotu, Marlon and Tuli, were outstanding with the former adding more and more to his stock by the game. Nick Figueroa lived in the Utah backfield. Drake Jackson had an interception while Hunter Echols was disruptive throughout.

Bru McCoy

Right on time, Bru McCoy is coming alive. The redshirt freshman led USC with five catches for 66 yards. There will be bigger performances to come but take note: the Trojans now have four exceptional targets to find in the passing game.

Tyler Vaughns

It’s easy for Vaughns to fly under the radar when USC’s other receivers bring so much flash, but his contributions to the victory shouldn’t go ignored. He just about dragged the offense to the endzone on the scoring drive that ended with his eight-yard touchdown catch.

Parker Lewis

USC fans would have rather had touchdowns, but credit is due to freshman kicker Parker Lewis for taking care of business against the Utes. Seven of his eight kickoffs went for touchbacks and he avoided kicking out of bounds as had happened in Weeks 1 and 2. Really, he’s on this list because he was perfect on field goals. He hit from 35, 24, 43 and 47 yards out. Those kicks kept Utah at bay and it’s good to see the youngster find some reliability.