To make us become who we want to become offensively, we have to start finishing drives. —Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham
The Utes are headed into Pac-12 play this weekend as they face Southern Cal at home on Friday night. The Utes looked improved against San Jose State but will need to make adjustments if they want to continue winning and be successful in conference play.
1. Be effective in the red zone
The Utes have struggled all season in the red zone. Either turning the ball over or settling for field goals. The Utes will need to be more effective in the end zone heading into Pac-12 play if they want to be successful.
“To make us become who we want to become offensively, we have to start finishing drives," said head coach Kyle Whittingham. “That's really the last piece to the puzzle because we ran the ball efficiently on Saturday, over 200 yards.”
The Utes passing game is improving with each game and Troy Williams looks like he’s finally getting settled and chemistry is building with the offense.
“We're throwing the ball much better than we have in the last couple of years, but we have to improve the red zone production and taking care of the football, particularly in the red zone."
2. Stop Adoreé Jackson
If you give Jackson, USC's versatile athletic freak, an inch, he’ll take a mile. Opposing teams have learned that the hard way this year already. He’s a do-it-all player (cornerback, receiver, return specialist) looking to make an impact all around.
"He's dangerous. If he gets the ball with a little bit of space, you're in trouble,” said Whittingham. “We have to do a great job with our punt team this week of trying to neutralize that as well as our kickoff coverage because he's as good as there is in the country, may be the best in the country, at returning kicks and punts."
The Utes will want to limit the number of times Jackson touches the ball on Friday night.
3. No turnovers
Last year the Trojans defense had their way with the Utah offense that was 6-0 at the time. The defense had four interceptions, with Cameron Smith intercepting former Utah QB Travis Wilson three times.
The Utes have struggled this season with turning the ball over, especially in the red zone. So far this season the Utes have turned the ball over nine times. As the Utes prepare for their opener of conference play there may be some extra motivation from last year.
“We're not stressing that we owe them or anything like that”, said Whittingham. “We're just stressing that this is our first conference game and we'd like to get off on a good foot like we did last year against Oregon, which created some momentum.”
The game is on Friday at 7pm. If you can’t make it to the game it will be on FSN1.
Carra McManamon is a native of Washington State and is attending the University of Utah. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter: @curramac22