USC, with all of its tradition and winning past, can be an intimidating team for some opponents to face.
The Utes say they aren’t one of those teams who will enter the Coliseum wide-eyed.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, who called USC a “name brand,” said the program has an aura about it, but he isn’t concerned his team will be intimidated.
“I don’t think that’s bothered us the last two times we’ve played them,” he said. “I think we’ve matched them up pretty good and played them very competitively, and I think we were just short of both games.”
The Trojans have won 11 national titles, gone to 31 bowl games and produced six Heisman trophy winners in addition to 462 NFL players.
Utah linebacker Jared Norris said he still thinks of great players like Reggie Bush when he thinks about USC, but said the Utes weren’t going to treat the Trojans like they were “demi-gods.”
They are, after all, another team struggling to find its way in the Pac-12.
“You have to take them as a team and you are looking to win, that is the bottom line,” he said. “We’re going into every game looking to win.”
Utah quarterback Travis Wilson said he felt better on Wednesday than he did during Tuesday’s practice. His coach saw noticeable improvement as well.
“If he makes the same progress the next couple days he should be 100 percent,” Whittingham said.
Wilson wore a glove during practice to protect his sprained finger and the cuts on his throwing hand. It is up to him to decide whether he wants to wear it in Saturday’s game.
The sophomore was encouraged, not only with the way the hand felt but also with Utah’s practice.
“I still have some things to clean up in the throw game but I thought we did a great job on the third down drills the last couple series,” he said.
Staying the same
USC receiver Marqise Lee has been hampered by a knee injury recently as he sat out USC’s win over Arizona on Oct. 10 then left last week’s loss at Notre Dame early.
However, Lee is listed as probable for Saturday. The Utes are expecting him to play, but even if he doesn’t it won’t change Utah’s game plan much, Whittingham said.
“They don’t change the route structure when he is out, it’s just a different guy, they keep doing the same things,” Whittingham said.
Whittingham seemed more worried about Lee’s abilities returning kickoffs than anything else.
Lee has five returns for 99 yards.
“He’s a dangerous guy,” Whittingham said.
The Utes didn’t fare so well the last time they faced a dangerous returner, with Stanford’s Ty Montgomery returning a kickoff 100 yards.