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Turnovers sink Utes in 19-3 loss at USC

Published October 26, 2013 8:35 pm

Utah turns the ball over four times and fails to score a TD for the first time since 2010.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Los Angeles • The Utah Utes knew overcoming USC's talent would be a challenge Saturday.

What the Utes didn't realize is they'd have to overcome themselves too.

The Utes (4-4, 1-4) had four turnovers in their 19-3 loss to the Trojans in the Los Angeles Coliseum, leading to one of their more miserable outcomes in recent seasons.

The Utes failed to score a touchdown for the first time since losing to Boise State 26-3 in the 2010 Las Vegas Bowl while their turnovers led to all of USC's first-half points when the Trojans built a 16-3 lead.

The loss will lead to some "soul-searching" and a look at what changes, if any, need to be made at the quarterback position, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said.

"The bottom line is the throw game isn't where it needs to be and the run game is not a whole lot better," he said. "We have to be able to get rid of the takeaways; that has led to our demise in the four losses."

The Utes had three interceptions against Oregon State, six against UCLA and two against Arizona.

Saturday's effort was the worst yet for quarterback Travis Wilson, who threw two interceptions and fumbled. He finished the game 5 of 14 for 51 yards.

Wilson didn't blame his performance on his injured hand.

"I thought I was throwing well all week but I wasn't making the throws today," he said. "I definitely put this game on myself."

Wilson was replaced at the end of the first half by Adam Schulz, who promptly was intercepted.

The mistake not only gave USC (5-3, 2-2) a shot at a field goal with three seconds remaining in the half, but was like a dagger ripping through the Utes' hopes.

It seemed no matter who was behind Utah's offensive line, bad things were going to happen.

How bad was it? Consider Utah's last five possessions of the half. Four of those ended in turnovers while the fifth went to USC on downs when Dres Anderson was stopped short on fourth-and-1 at USC's 11-yard line.

That play represented the end of one of Utah's better drives of the day, as it used 13 plays to advance 64 yards into USC territory.

After that, the Utes mustered little in the way of offense and finished with just 201 yards, including just 69 yards in the second half.

USC's offense wasn't that much better, finishing with 260 total offensive yards as Utah's defense played well.

However, Utah's defense couldn't play well enough to overcome all the mistakes.

Whittingham said the loss was disappointing because the Utes were regressing in some areas, namely offense.

"There is no real production and that is coaching," he said. "That has to get fixed."

The good, or bad news, depending on one's perspective, is the Utes have two weeks to recover and get ready for the final games of the season.

Unfortunately for the Utes, two of those games are on the road, where the Utes are just 3-8 in Pac-12 play since joining the league.

With such a difficult schedule, the Utes just want to make a bowl game, said defender Trevor Reilly.

"We have to win at least two out of four but of course we want to win all four," he said. "With the bye week, hopefully we'll be ready to go for ASU."

lwodraska@sltrib.com

Storylines

O In short • The Utes lose their second straight game, falling to 3-8 in Pac-12 road games since joining the conference.

Key momenT • Utah starts its second drive of the game on USC's 35-yard line, but Travis Wilson throws an interception and USC scores on the following drive.

Key stat • The Utes commit four turnovers before halftime, leading to USC's 16 first-half points.