Tom Smart, Deseret News
LOS ANGELES — In case someone missed the memo, yes, there is a problem at quarterback for the Utes.
They gained just 201 yards of total offense in their 19-3 loss to USC on Saturday, going 12-for-31 passing with three interceptions.
“The bottom line,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, “is if you play offense like that, you really don’t have much chance to win.”
If there were any doubt the Utes have reverted to their recent history of spotty quarterback play and overall offensive woes, Saturday cleared them up. Travis Wilson, he of the sprained finger, completed just five of 14 passes for 51 yards, with two interceptions. Backup Adam Schulz, who appeared late in the first half, was 7-for-17 for 79 yards and one interception.
“We were all pretty juiced for this game. We had a good week of preparation,” Schulz said. “I think it just came down to a lack of execution.”
The offensive line bore its share of the blame, with the Trojans cashing in on six sacks. Utah also lost the ball once on a fumble.
Wilson started the game, despite concerns over his hand, which still has a purplish scar near the thumb. His first pass was an 11-yard completion, but things slipped soon after. His first interception bounced off the hands of Dres Anderson and into those of USC’s Josh Shaw. The second pick came on an underthrown pass that was stolen by USC’s Leon McQuay III.
Schulz also threw a pick in the first half, going over the center of the field and finding Su’a Cravens instead of his own receiver. That set up a field goal that put USC up 16-3.
There was some doubt earlier in the week as to who would start. Wilson played with a protective glove. There was even speculation he might sit in order to rest the hand through next Saturday’s bye.
But Schulz said that Monday or Tuesday he was told Wilson would continue. That will probably hold true the rest of the season, unless Wilson’s hand is injured worse than the team is saying. Whittingham called Wilson “fine,” but the sophomore quarterback said he felt about 80-85 percent of normal.
Asked if there is any doubt what direction the team will go with its signal-callers, Whittingham said, “It’s a big question what we’re going to do quarterback-wise. Yeah, we’ve gotta answer that question.”
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