Utah is looking to bounce back after a tough loss to Stanford. To do that, the Utes have to travel to Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to face USC on Saturday at 6 p.m. MT. Here's what the media in Southern California are saying.
Darnold losing his confidence
Even though USC is 5-1, quarterback Sam Darnold and the Trojans’ offense are not quite in sync according to the Los Angles Times. After a 38-10 win over Oregon State, Darnold said he has been hard on himself and that has led him to be emotionally stressed.
When you hear the phrase, 'you are your own harshest critic,' Darnold would fit that category. Against the Beavers, despite throwing three touchdowns for 316 yards, he committed three turnovers. That includes two fumbles and one interception. This season he has thrown nine interceptions, which is tied for third nationally.
"I focus on the bad, honestly," Darnald said. "Just because you want to improve on the things that you didn't do well and learn from it. And that's how I am, that's how our coaches are, that's how I think any player would be, honestly. And just the turnovers, it's not good.”
In regarding to Utah, the Times brings up the quarterback issue for the Utes, pointing out Tyler Huntley’s stats as a starter in the first four games before getting injured. Then bring up Troy Williams, who's from the L.A. area, first start of the season last week against Stanford and giving the Utes its first loss of the year.
The Utes are still figuring out who's going to start Saturday between Williams and third stringer Cooper Bateman if Huntley is not ready to go.
TBT: The punt that cost USC the loss
Last season against Utah, the Trojans were up by three in the fourth quarter, minutes away in defeating the Utes at Rice-Eccles Stadium. It was fourth and three, an USC’s coach Clay Helton made the toughest decision any coach would make in his position according to the Los Angeles Times. He sent out the punting team instead of going for it, knowing that he needed three yards to seal the Trojans victory. Big mistake.
With five minutes to spare in the fourth, Williams was able to lead the Utes to 15 plays 93-yard scoring drive. Williams found then Utes receiver Tim Patrick for 18-yard touchdown to gain the lead 31-27 with only 16 seconds left.
Despite the loss, Helton does not regret the controversial punt call.
“If I had to it over again, I would’ve made the same decision,” Helton said after the game.
Run Ronald Run
The Trojans’ starting running back Ronald Jones is looking to get more carries against the Utes’ defense according to the Los Angeles Daily News. The first three games, he was able to get at least 18 carries. His career-high is 23 carries when the Trojans faced Stanford.
It all went downhill after suffering a sprained ankle. Ever since, the coaches have lowered his carries to 13 a game until they are convinced that Jones can carry the load.
“I’m getting back to full strength. The production is still there when we get the opportunity,” Jones said, “but as long as we’re winning ballgames, it doesn’t matter.”
The Utes is ranked third in the Pac-12 in run defense. In their loss against Stanford, running back Bryce Love rushed a season-low 152 yards and one touchdown against the Utes’ defense, only because of his 68-yard run for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.