Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei has been a known commodity for college football fans and NFL Draft nerds for quite a while now*, being named the Pac-12's best lineman last year and entering this year as a potential top-five Draft pick. But it might not've been until his imposing early showing against USC Thursday night that much of the nation learned the former ace furniture mover's name.
He directly or indirectly caused two immediate turnovers from what was once supposed to be the nation's best offense, producing two easy instant touchdowns for the Utes. On the first, his presence forced banged-up center Khaled Holmes to snap a dribbler back to Matt Barkley; on the second, he stood up Holmes mid-snap as the ball skittered free. He also dropped Silas Redd for a three-yard loss on one run and tied up multiple blockers on a couple passes.
The talented and experienced Holmes began to assert himself on a scoring drive by USC, but the Trojans' first two drives and seven or so snaps were completely defined by Lotulelei. Coming into the game, the interior line battle was expected to be the one to watch -- that's undoubtedly the case right now. It's still very, very early, but USC's got plenty of adjustments to make.
* How's this for a star: at Pac-12 Media Days, he got far more attention from assembled reporters than did running back John White, who ran for 1,500 yards last year.
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