Utah Football Drops Season Opener Versus No. 20 USC

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University of Utah senior quarterback Jake Bentley (8) in a NCAA Football game vs. University of Southern California at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, UT on Saturday November 21, 2020.(Photo by Tom Denton | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Sammy Mora , Sports Editor

 

It was a messy game for the University of Utah’s football team as they lost their season opener versus No. 20 USC, 33-17. 

Fans finally found out who would be starting the game for the Utes but the Cameron Rising era of Utah football didn’t last long. While there were flashes of greatness from his first few drives, such as a 21-yard dump off pass to freshman Ty Jordan, things slowly went wrong for the redshirt sophomore QB. 

On back to back drives, Rising turned the ball over. The first was an overthrown ball that was picked off by USC’s Drake Jackson and on the ensuing drive, Rising was stripped of the ball leading to an easy touchdown for the Trojans. 

Rising was hurt on that strip sack and didn’t return to the game. Graduate transfer Jake Bentley took the field for the Utes in Rising’s absence. Utah was already trailing 10-3 when the former South Carolina QB took over. While his first series under center ended in a Utah punt, the Utah defense stepped up in the ensuing drive. 

On the first play from scrimmage, Nephi Sewell dropped Stephen Carr for a loss and on the next play QB Kedon Slovis was stripped by Devin Kaufusi. Sewell scooped the ball up and ran it back for a Utah touchdown. 

While the Utah defense was able to find the endzone, a bad exchange between Bentley and Jordan gave the Trojans the ball back again in Utah territory. Bentley settled in towards the end of the half and connected with Samson Nacua for his first TD as a Ute. At the end of the first half, Utah trailed the Trojans 24-17. 

But the second half was not kind to the Utes. They were unable to score in the entire second half, while USC was held to only three field goals. 

Bentley threw yet another costly interception as Utah was driving the ball down the field midway through the 3rd quarter. He finished on the night going 16-28 for 171 yards. Bentley had two INTs on the night. 

It’s something we can fix. We have to be committed to fix it. It’s something we have to do to win games,” Bentley said. 

Bryan Thompson led the team in receiving yards with 48 yards on two catches. Nacua, who had the lone offensive touchdown for the team, accounted for 29 yards. 

The running back core was truly a committee style with three of the four backs carrying the brunt of the load. Ty Jordan had the most of any of the backs with 32 yards. Jordan Wilmore had 30 yards and Devin Brumfield had 28 yards.  

On the other side of the ball, Nephi Sewell had a day, wracking up 10 tackles and picking off Kedon Slovis once. His linebacking partner Devin Lloyd led the team with 11 tackles. 

He balled out. Comes as no surprise. He balls out in practice and does it consistently. Was happy with how the defense played, especially with the young guys. A couple of mental mistakes. There were going to be some. Proud of how they played hard all four quarters,” Lloyd said about how Sewell played on Saturday night. 

Head coach Kyle Whittingham praised his defense, especially the freshmen who were playing their first collegiate game in the loss. Whittingham also singled out Jordan who had a big game on offense. 

“Disappointing game, but there were a lot of positives though. Thought the defense played scrappy, run defense was solid, did give up some things in the pass game but really had a very good performance from a lot of guys that hadn’t played a lot of football lately. Honestly, surprised about the performance of the offense, thought they’d be a lot better than they were,” Whittingham said. 

He also alluded that Bentley might be the starter from here on out due to Rising taking what he said was a “pretty good” shot to the shoulder. The staff won’t know more about the injury until tomorrow. 

While it is still on the schedule, Utah is set to take on Arizona State next week in Tempe. There has been no word on how the COVID-19 situation is for the Sun Devils so a kickoff time and network have yet to be announced. 

 

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