USC ‘panicked a little bit’ as Utah pulled away: Takeaways from the Pac-12 title game

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USC quarterback Caleb Williams runs with the ball while pulling away from the Utah defense during the first quarter of the Pac-12 championship game at Allegiant Stadium on Friday.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Austin Jones was rolling. Utah stopped him cold.


The running back, who had a career-high 154 rushing yards against Notre Dame, was held to just 35 yards on 15 carries on Friday. His ability to balance the offense, taking pressure off Williams and the passing game, was critical against the Irish. The run game was a non-factor against Utah, however, putting undue stress on an already injured Williams.

Williams, who suffered a hamstring injury while scrambling for 59 yards during USC’s second drive of the game, was unable to pull off his normal Heisman-worthy feats and was sacked seven times.

“When your quarterback’s playing immobile, it’s certainly a factor there as well,” Riley said of the lack of running game. “People got to play us a little bit differently with him when he can move around. That changed some of the run game. I certainly deserve fault at that. There’s times that I could have and should have stayed with it more as far as calling the game.”

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Without the 69 yards lost on seven sacks, Williams would have led the Trojans with 90 rushing yards on five carries.

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