USC Football did not lose to Utah because of injuries

Jordan Addison, USC Football, USC Trojans
Jordan Addison, USC Football, USC Trojans / Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

USC Football WR1 Jordan Addison and USC Football LB Eric Gentry both ended up getting injured late in the game against Utah. As for Addison, he got hurt towards the end of the third quarter in what looks like a leg injury. As of this writing, there is no timetable on when Addison will be back.

Gentry was injured during the last drive of the game, with SC on defense, trying to prevent Utah from scoring their game-winning touchdown. It was a leg injury, and sure enough, SC did end up giving up a game-winning touchdown and two-point conversion with Gentry off the field to lose the game by one point.

These inopportune absences were of course massive. Particularly Gentry's absence, as his presence in the middle of the field likely stops Utes QB Cam Rising from running up the middle on either the game-winning rushing touchdown or the game-winning two-point conversion.

He also potentially stops Dalton Kincaid from torching SC on that last drive, which was arguably a bigger problem on that drive than Rising. He at least arguably was a bigger problem for SC throughout the entire course of the game. But interestingly, that's why Gentry's injury can't be considered the reason USC lost the game.

Kincaid dominated the Trojans all night, even when Gentry was in the game. He finished with an absurd 16 catches for 234 receiving yards(!), and even scored a touchdown. Kincaid obviously didn't only dominate SC when Gentry was off the field, but he also went off while Gentry was on the field.

The same can be said about Rising's performance against USC Football.

While Rising noticeably had it MUCH easier when a 6-7 inside linebacker with a 7'1+ wingspan for USC Football left the game, it's not like the Trojans did a particularly great job containing him even with Gentry on the field.

Rising posted a final stat line of completing 30 out of 44 passes for 415 passing yards and two passing touchdowns. He didn't throw any picks, and also ran for 60 yards on 11 carries, while scoring three(!) rushing touchdowns. Again, plenty of that happened even with Gentry on the field.

Going back to Addison's injury, it's true that SC didn't score on the drive he was injured on, but they have plenty of talent in the receiver room in addition to Addison.

While Addison is the best wide receiver in the country, and his presence is and will always be felt, the rest of the talent and production at the WR position for SC should have left the Trojans with a chance to win without him for those last approximately 18 minutes of the game. And credit to SC; they did score on that next drive, which was their last.

This is when those reading may want to bring up the 48 seconds left on the clock after Rising's game-winning score and two-point conversion. If Addison was on the field, SC would have had a MUCH better chance of winning. That's absolutely true, but here's the issue: USC still shot their own selves in the foot three times on that drive.

Raleek Brown returned the kickoff after Utah's game-winning score to approximately the 45-yard line. They ended up having to start at the 20 yard line, however, due to a hold from Brenden Rice. Then, twice on their attempt to drive down the field with the seconds remaining on the clock, they had two false start penalties. One from WR Mario Williams, and one from LT Bobby Haskins.

That's about 35 yards in penalties. They ended up gaining 25 yards on the drive, and losing the game while on their own 40-yard line. If they had those 35 yards, they theoretically end up on (approximately) Utah's 25-yard line with a chance for Denis Lynch to kick a game-winning 42-yard field goal.

The chances to win the game off of that skyrocket over winning on a last-second Hail Mary toss, or whatever it was that USC was trying to accomplish on that last play. So, while Addison being out there absolutely would give SC the chance to use the nation's top wideout to make some magic happen, SC also was messing with their own chances with penalties on that drive.

Then, when factoring in that Utah was missing a tight end even more talented than Kincaid in Brant Kuithe for the game, it sets in even more. While Utah clearly didn't need Kuithe, one can still argue that the fact that he was even higher on the depth chart than Kincaid when he was healthy goes to show that Utah was missing a major component of their squad too.

Next. Game-by-game predictions for USC in 2022. dark

They can argue that USC's defense would have been torched even more if Kuithe played, considering they were lit up by the guy beneath him on the depth chart. It's a fair argument, and just goes to show that injuries can't be used as an excuse for this game. Both teams can be argued to not have been at full strength during the game, and not just USC.