2020 Game 3: USC vs. Utah
No. 20 USC Trojans (2-0) at Utah Utes (0-0)
Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City at 7:30 p.m. PT on ESPN
Ute to Watch: Junior LB Devin Lloyd
The truth is we don't know who to watch on Utah because they lost most of their star players from last season, had their first two games canceled, and might still have some players on the COVID/injured list. With that said, Lloyd is an accomplished returner, ranking top 10 in the conference in tackles last season out of his linebacker position. He led the Utes in tackles and ranked second on the team with 11 tackles-for-loss. In USC's last trip to Salt Lake, Utah's linebackers dominated the game with their playmaking skills.
Even though the Utes suffered huge losses along the defensive line, Kyle Whittingham's program tends to reload not rebuild when it comes to big bodies. Remember, Stevie Tu'ikolovatu was a backup for Utah before grad transferring to USC and becoming the Rose Bowl Game Defensive MVP. The Trojans' offensive line improved in week two, but interior pressure has been an issue as has short yardage, so USC's big men will need to match or exceed Utah's physicality.
Adapt and Overcome
Given Utah's personnel mysteries, the USC coaching staff could only prepare for schemes not players this week. As an example, the Utes have three potential candidates at starting quarterback, although most expect South Carolina transfer Jake Bentley or Texas transfer Cam Rising to lead the offense. Bentley is considered a dual-threat while Rising is more of a pocket-passer, so depending on who plays, USC DC Todd Orlando will have to react to the skill set of the Utes QB on the fly. Because of this, the Trojans may start slowly, so the key to the game will be adjusting quickly.
Ruthless in the Red Zone
The USC offense has moved the ball extremely well this season, averaging 527 yards per game, which ranks second in the Pac-12 and ninth nationally. However, the Trojans are only fifth in the conference in scoring because they've struggled with an assortment of mistakes in the red zone. If this offense can stop leaving points on the field, USC can avoid the late-game drama that has highlighted the first two contests.