I felt good about this game beforehand. I didn’t feel THAT good.
The Utes shook off more adversity than just about any team has faced, and put together one for the ages to get a ridiculous curse put to bed.
Game Ball: Cam Rising
1st Runner Up: O-Line
2nd Runner Up: Tavion Thomas
Coming out parties: Money Parks, Devaughn Vele
Rising was the best we’ve seen him, dropping dimes on long balls, running for a TD when their D was focused on closing windows to a variety of WRs and TEs. Even when he misread the play call it worked - Lud & Whitt went from angry about the TO spent to “OK, I like it!” on the flea flicker. Vele looked like an NFL WR in grabbing the ball and absorbing contact.
Tavion Thomas got his own redemption for self imposed exile from fumblitis. Take care of the rock, show everyone what you can do. Even on plays with no potential he moved the pile a couple of yards. Dude is a horse! On his 43 yard TD & numerous other times, showed the 4x100 championship anchor speed.
The O-Line is starting to look like what they’re capable of, protecting Rising impressively and opening creases for the run game. It takes time for OL play to come together, and with just 20 hours a week all the intricacies and adjustments can’t get installed & working smoothly, especially with young guys.
I got a kick out of the closeups of Nick Ford chuckling on his penalties. Him being from the Palos Verdes area, he knows some of those guys up front, and he knew we were getting the best of them.
Parks showed why he’s been getting game snaps. Quick, smooth, smart with his hands… delivered.
This game was so therapeutic for all our SoCal kids.
Game Ball: Vonte Davis - the only turnover of the game snuffed out momentum USC was building.
1st Runner Up - Tafua & the DL. Getting pressure on Slovis was essential, the DL battled USC’s OL from the bell.
2nd Runner Up - Clark Phillips III - battling London all game was a slugfest, and CP3 didn’t sag, at all.
USC put up some yardage, but between Davis’ pick and a lot of forced punts, Scalley dialed up a great game plan. Ingenious to use the big + athletic Xavier Carlton inside (ala DE Derrick Shelby in '08) , great to see Soph LB Andrew Mata’afa #55 getting quality snaps in a huge game
Game Ball: kick coverage teams - no drama, great coverage, when USC tried to generate some momentum via kick & punt returns, there was nothing there.
Runner Up - Jordan Noyes. Our less imposing player from England punched all the KOs into the EZ and was perfect on PATs
USC has its own set of problems, but our guys rose up to kick adversity in the teeth, get a historic monkey off the back of the whole program, and honor their fallen teammates with a great team effort.
It was sooooooo good to have the game over long before the clock went to zeroes. Everyone needed that.
This young team is in the unusual position of being grounded, but motivated, hard lessons behind them, so much still to play for.