Tom Smart, Deseret News
Utah Utes defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (92) as the Univeristy of Utah loses to Arizona State University 37-7 as they play PAC 12 football Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012, in Tempe, Arizona.

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's 2-2 start hasn't caused defensive tackle Star Lotulelei to reflect on his decision to put the NFL on hold and play his senior season for the Utes.

"I don't regret anything. It's a team thing. It's not like I haven't done anything wrong since I've been here. I'm not perfect," Lotulelei said. "As a defense, there's a lot of things that we need to work on. But it's not something I regret. I'm proud of the way our defense comes out and plays."

Although there are missed assignments, Lotulelei explained that effort is never in short supply.

"We give as much as we can every week," he said. "But we still make mental mistakes and that's something we needed to clean up."

It's all part of a big process, one that Lotulelei is glad to be a part of.

"I don't regret anything. I'm glad I came back," he said. "There's a lot of things I needed to work on and I'm still trying to work on those things. So I think it was the right decision."

Despite the Utes' 2-2 mark, Lotulelei is still shooting for "a bowl game and all that stuff" to conclude his college career. The two-time team captain insists they'll approach things one week at a time — beginning with a big challenge against USC on Thursday.

QB BATTLE: Utah's Jon Hays and USC's Matt Barkley represent opposite ends of the spectrum at quarterback. One was originally ticketed for Nebraska-Omaha, while the other is a four-year starter and a Heisman Trophy candidate.

The underdog, though, isn't backing down.

"I'm excited for the opportunity. The stage is set on Thursday night," Hays said, noting the real matchup will be facing USC's "good defense."

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HERE AND THERE: Junior defensive end/linebacker Trevor Reilly leads the Utes with 25 tackles despite being moved around quite a bit.

"We've asked him to do a lot of different things. We've asked him to play a little bit more in space and coverage as well. So if he played in the box the whole time I think his stats would be better," said Utah defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake. "But the guy is all about playing what's best for the defense. He's an unselfish guy and I've been real happy with what I've been seeing."


Twitter: @DirkFacer