May 20, 2024
USC running back MarShawn Lloyd looks for the ball after it was stripped from him during a rushing play

USC running back MarShawn Lloyd looks for the ball after he fumbled against Utah at the Coliseum on Saturday.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Utah entered Saturday’s game as the best rushing defense in the country, allowing just 66.8 yards on the ground per game. USC surpassed that number in the first quarter.

The Trojans ran for 100 yards on 10 carries in the first quarter, pacing USC to a 14-14 tie on the scoreboard, but finished with just 145 rushing yards on 23 attempts as Riley moved away from a run game.

Behind a tweaked offensive line that moved Jarrett Kingston from right guard to right tackle, added Mason Murphy at right guard and benched former starter Michael Tarquin, the Trojans gained 6.3 yards per carry, their most efficient rushing performance since beating Arizona State on Sept. 23.

MarShawn Lloyd rushed for 74 yards on five touches in the first quarter, including a 45-yard touchdown, but didn’t get another carry after fumbling midway through the third quarter. He finished with 86 yards on seven carries.

Austin Jones had 31 yards on five carries, including three carries on one drive in the fourth quarter. He moved the Trojans to the Utah 8-yard line before an 11-yard sack on third down forced USC to settle for a 36-yard field goal on fourth-and-15.

“When I’ve been asked about play-calling my career, that’s — hindsight always tells the story,” Riley said when asked about de-emphasizing the running game.

“I’ve had, I think, an OK track record in calling plays,” he continued when asked about ways he wants to progress as a play caller. “Confident in my ability and our ability to do that, but we’ve got to be better for each other. That’s called football. You’re all in it together. I’ll never sit up here and say, I did it alright and guys made the mistakes. We’re all in it together. Our success is tied together. Our failures are tied together.”

Riley sat on the dais after the game by himself. USC did not make any players or other coaches available to reporters after the game.

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