Q&A with Daily Utah Chronicle football reporter

first_imgNo. 20 USC heads to Salt Lake City this Saturday to take on No. 19 Utah in a game with big implications in the Pac-12 South. Daily Trojan sports editor Aubrey Kragen interviewed the Daily Utah Chronicle’s football reporter, Ryan Miller, to provide Trojan fans with a better picture of what to expect against the Utes.Daily Trojan: Utah has been utilizing two quarterbacks this season. This kind of system usually doesn’t bode well for teams, but the Utes are 5-1 anyway and ranked No. 19 in the nation. How has Utah been able to have succeed using two different quarterbacks consistently?Daily Utah Chronicle: The common phrase goes, “If you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have one.” That pretty much describes the Utes’ current quarterback situation. This isn’t a quarterback battle that has sprung up because both Travis Wilson and Kendal Thompson have played exceptionally well; on the contrary, it’s because both have been ineffective.Wilson was benched against UCLA because Utah head coach Whittingham was tired of seeing the offense fail to move the ball and Thompson was benched for the same reason against Oregon State.The reason why Utah has had success in the early part of the season is because of an outstanding front seven, an emerging star running back and a special teams unit that may be the best in the nation.Whittingham hates two quarterback systems and he has made it clear the Utes are not running one. The Utah coach is just waiting for either Wilson or Thompson to seize the job and start moving the offense consistently.DT: This weekend’s matchup features the No. 1 rusher in the Pac-12 (USC’s Buck Allen) against the No. 3 man (Utah’s Devontae Booker). Who finishes with more rushing yards this Saturday?DUC: Utah relies on Booker’s production much more than USC relies on Allen’s. Since entering conference play Booker has been the Utes offense. In three Pac-12 games the Utah running back is averaging 187 yards per contest, and he will probably need to get close to that if the Utes hope to beat USC.The strength of Utah’s defense is their front seven and the Utes would love it if the Trojans try to run a lot against them. With Cody Kessler under center and an athletic receiving corps at his disposal, I would think USC would attack Utah through the air more so than on the ground.So all things considered I expect Booker to have more yards at the end of the night.DT: USC quarterback Cody Kessler threw for seven touchdowns last week. Meanwhile, Utah’s defense managed five sacks. How will Utah’s defense match up against USC’s high-powered offense?DUC: Utah’s strength this season has been their defense and if they are fully healthy, it’s really hard to find a weakness anywhere in the unit. However, that might not be the case Saturday night. Starting free safety Tevin Carter missed the game against Oregon State and parts of the games against UCLA and Washington State.If Carter is out the Utes become very vulnerable to the pass. In fact it was blown assignments by his backup that led to two Washington State touchdowns in Utah’s only loss of the season.The Utes’ front seven though has been superb. They lead the nation in sacks and they will bring heavy pressure against the Trojans as well. The Utes have the speed both on the edge and at linebacker to not only get to the quarterback, but also contain most outside runs. The USC receivers should have the advantage out wide, though, so if Kessler gets time to throw, it could spell trouble for Utah.DT: Utah is coming off of a grueling double-overtime win at Oregon State. Any chance the Utes will be worn down from that game and not play to their full potential?DUC: As it was a Thursday night game, I don’t see the overtime game affecting the Utes at all. It was an emotional victory, yes, but it was the kind that will raise the spirits more than anything else. The game against Oregon State was exactly the type of contest Utah would have lost a season ago and yet, they found away to win. I actually expect them to come out on Saturday more confident because of the slugfest with the Beavers.The game on Saturday also marks a chance for Utah to announce itself as a Pac-12 South contender. I don’t see anyway the Utes aren’t ready to play.DT: Prediction?DUC: I have never been much for predictions, but I’ll give it a shot. The Utes have somehow managed to win back-to-back Pac-12 road games with less than inspiring quarterback play, but I think the run ends here. Unless Wilson (or Thompson) can guide Utah down the field with his arm, I don’t see how the Utes will be able to keep up with the Trojans. You can only ask the Booker to do so much.The Utah defense and special teams will do their part and it will be close throughout, but I don’t think the Utes will be able to squeak this one out like they did against UCLA and Oregon State.USC 24, Utah 17last_img read more