That was a opposite USC group on a domain Friday night in Salt Lake City.
That was a tough team. That was a well-coached team. That was a patrol that was both scheme-disciplined and softened during avoiding flags. That was a group that had a spark.
Ultimately, a outcome was a third detriment in 4 games, interjection to a 15-play, 93-yard Utah expostulate that was capped with a touchdown and a 31-27 lead with 16 seconds remaining — a domain that would turn the final score.
Normally, there’d be small contrition in losing to Utah on a highway on a Friday night in a sleet — even for USC. Salt Lake City is one of a hardest places to play in college football.
USC routinely doesn’t do dignified victories, though deliberation how they started a deteriorate and how good they played Friday compared to those waste to Alabama and Stanford, that standard has to be broken.
Is first-year conduct manager Clay Helton a answer during USC? It’s tough to make a box for him, though it’s also tough to contend that he is not after 4 games. What we do know is that USC is considerably softened in Week 4 than it was in Weeks 1-3. And when you’re perplexing to get a module behind to a top, it’s course in a small things that matters first. After that comes a final score.
USC could have simply won Friday night’s game. This isn’t to contend they handed it away, though when it takes dual fourth-down conversions and Adoree’ Jackson, one of a best cornerbacks in a sport, “slipping” on Tim Patrick’s 18-yard touchdown locate for Utah to win, it’s frequency a decisive victory.
USC did copiousness of things good Friday, starting with a quarterback play.
Freshman Sam Darnold was a explanation opposite Utah. It was officious laughable how many softened he was than Max Browne, a starter for a initial 3 games. The USC offense grown gait and stroke underneath first-time starter Darnold, and his ability to broach a round on-time (most of a time) and on-target gave a USC offense something it was blank in a initial 3 weeks: competency.
Darnold’s done some purchase throws — his third-and-long strike to Tyler Petite while underneath vigour with underneath 9 mins to play was a things of quarterback coaches’ dreams. Frankly, Darnold had USC in position to go adult by a full touchdown or dual scores late in a contest, though an incompetent male downfield call on a damaged play a snap after that unreal third-down chuck wiped divided 37 yards and eventually led to USC punting a ball, heading to Utah’s 93-yard game-winning drive.
Make no mistake: Darnold was glorious Friday, finishing 18-for-26 for 253 yards with a rushing touchdown. His early-game fail was a usually decent blemish, though that wasn’t a reason USC mislaid a game.
Another reason for confidence during USC was a play of a Trojans’ once-vaunted descent line, that showed adult in aspiring for a initial time this season.
Utah has one of a best defensive lines in a republic and had not authorised a 100-yard rusher in some-more than dual years. But USC dominated a line of struggle on offense and a Trojans ran for 213 yards on 33 carries, led by Justin Davis’ 126 yards.
That was a USC belligerent diversion we approaching to see this season. And opposite that defense, there’s no approach to appreciate it as a fluke.
USC gained 466 yards, had an softened 7 penalties for 49 yards, and were in a position to win a diversion opposite a ranked competition on a road. In a vacuum, that would be a clever opening — though USC operates amid a cacophony of noise.
It’s apparent now that a Trojans’ preseason expectations were misguided. USC is constantly in win-now mode, though a Trojans have proven to be a group in transition. The defense, privately a front-seven, isn’t where it needs to be to contest for championships. Good teams win in a trenches. Great teams take that success and supplement stellar play outward a hashmarks. USC isn’t there.
Is Helton a male to build that championship team? That will be dynamic during a finish of a season. A hellacious report — arguably a toughest in a republic — creates that a formidable assessment, though that’s a preference new jaunty executive Lynn Swann (who did not sinecure Helton) will have to make.
But rinse all a politics and unjustifiable relevancy away, and we have a group that started a deteriorate a catastrophic 1-2 and done a clever step towards competency Friday. No matter where a baseline was set, USC changed forward, even in a loss.
Only time will tell if that matters.