No. 13 USC’s Thursday night game against Utah is approaching quickly, and the Trojans are thinking about the atmosphere in Salt Lake City.
“We talk about weathering the storm when you go on the road any time, especially if it’s a Thursday night game in an environment like it’ll be,” USC coach Lane Kiffin said. “[Utah] is going to make some plays. It’s going to happen.”
The Trojans are coming off a bye week, and it was after their bye week last season when the team seemed to click against Cal. This season, USC says the week off helped it in multiple cases.
“We’re in the best physical shape that we’ve been all year long,” Kiffin said. “It allowed us to clean up some things in all three phases of the game. It was good for our players to get away, from everyday being around [the coaches].”
USC will be facing a Utah offense that has had a very slow start to the season. The Utes rank last in the Pac-12 with less than 300 yards of offense per game.
Though USC’s pass rush has been impressive thus far, there have been holes in the secondary. But one defensive back has stood out in practice lately.
“[Freshman cornerback] Kevon Seymour played really well,” Kiffin said. “As we go throughout the season, we’ll look to expand his role at some point. It’s good to have a young corner like that.”
The Trojans will face a tough test against Utah’s defense, led by their interior defensive lineman Star Lotulelei, expected to be a top-10 selection in next April’s NFL draft.
“He can make so many plays. The penetration is such an issue, even if he’s not making a play, he’s making running backs bounce on runs and the quarterback move around,” Kiffin said.
A potential key matchup in the game will be Lotelelei against senior center Khaled Holmes. But Kiffin simply said he hopes Holmes plays, and he didn’t provide an update to Khaled’s injury status.
USC’s running game has been significantly better with Holmes on the field, so his status for the game figures to be pivotal.