Football Notebook: USC

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Football Notebook: USC

University of Utah football head coach Kyle Whittingham embraces University of Southern California football head coach Clay Helton following an NCAA Football game at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018. (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

University of Utah football head coach Kyle Whittingham embraces University of Southern California football head coach Clay Helton following an NCAA Football game at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018. (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

University of Utah football head coach Kyle Whittingham embraces University of Southern California football head coach Clay Helton following an NCAA Football game at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018. (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

University of Utah football head coach Kyle Whittingham embraces University of Southern California football head coach Clay Helton following an NCAA Football game at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018. (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Sammy Mora

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The No. 10 University of Utah football team hits the road this week as they begin conference play in California to take on rival USC in a Pac-12 South showdown.

Head Coach Kyle Whittingham addressed the media on Monday morning. He closed the book on non-conference play, talking about what his offense has been able to do so far as well as the loss USC had against BYU last week. 

When asked about what BYU did to get the victory over the weekend, Whittingham’s answer was simple: “They had over 450 yards in that game. They had three turnovers in that game. That was the huge deal. Two picks led to 10 points and the third ended the game, so that was the difference in that game.” 

USC is an emotional game not only for fans, but also for the players. When asked about keeping those emotions under control, Whittingham said, “That is always a challenge as coaches. You have to keep the team on somewhat of an even keel. You want to have energy and emotion and be juiced up for the game, but you have to play within the framework of the offense and the defense.” 

He continued, “You have to make sure that you don’t let your emotions get the best of you. This is a mature team. This team seems to handle their business very well and my guess is that we will go down there, not overreact and just play our game.”

Many believe that the game on Friday night, just like many Utah versus USC matchups, could determine the winner of the Pac-12 South. Not only is this a high stakes game, but it will also be played on a short week. 

Coach Whittingham said, “Fortunately for us, we’ve played less snaps than anyone in the Pac-12 in the first three weeks, so we have less wear and tear. With that in mind, the short week we don’t feel is a huge deal for us, at least from a physical standpoint. It is just getting the mental side of it down. We feel fresh and that the physicality of the first three games will not be a factor in this fourth game, but you still have to get the new game plan elements implemented and prepped. That is the bigger challenge.”

Senior quarterback Tyler Huntley has been having a banner year so far for the team. Whittingham credits his success to not only the offensive line but also Huntley’s decision making. 

“Credit the offensive line for holding up in pass protection most of the time. We don’t have a sack yet, but we very well could or should have had a few. It is a matter of Tyler making good decisions, it is a matter of the receivers making very few drops. If we make all the catches we should have made, he’s probably way over 80%, but I guess you don’t always catch every ball you should catch. He has been just phenomenal,” Whittingham said.

The Utes have not won in the Coliseum in over 100 years and the team looks to snap the streak this year. 

“I guess everyone is entitled to a bad century, so this game fortunately in our opinion doesn’t have anything to do with the last 100 years. It is its own entity, new challenge. History hasn’t been good to us in that place, but history has no bearing on this year,” Whittingham said. 

Kickoff for the USC-Utah game is set for 7 p.m. MDT. 

 

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