Notebook: Serra alum Harris adds to big day

Aware of late game breakdowns last year, USC defense delivers with takeaway in the final minute to seal 19-17 win.

LOS ANGELES – It was a good day to be an alumnus of Gardena (Calif.) Serra on Saturday at the Coliseum.

Sophomore wide receiver Robert Woods set a new USC single-game record with 17 receptions and tied another with three touchdown grabs. Freshman receiver Marqise Lee started his first-ever collegiate game, recording five catches for 32 yards.

But the forgotten Trojan that came from the private high school founded in 1950 was redshirt senior defensive tackle DaJohn Harris.

Harris, Woods, Lee and freshman receiver George Farmer huddled before the season opener and vowed to wow a national television audience.

"Let's just represent and put Serra on the map," Woods said.

"Juicy," as he is known to teammates, certainly did with six tackles, two tackles for loss and a pass breakup against Minnesota.

For all the attention lavished on the defensive line during fall camp, notably defensive ends Nick Perry and Devon Kennard, it was Harris who set the tenor early by stopping Golden Gophers quarterback MarQueis Gray for loss on back-to-back plays in the first quarter.

"I was able to take my technique, take it to the next level and play hard," Harris said.

USC head coach Lane Kiffin believes that Harris will continue his progression from rarely used role player to potentially dominant starter.

"I think DaJohn is really one of those guys that sometimes comes into his last year and it all comes together for him," Kiffin said.

"He's the original Serra guy," Woods said. "We all look up to him."

Déjà Vu All Over Again
When Minnesota got the ball back with 2:04 to play and needing a field goal to win, everyone flashed back to last season when the Trojans allowed late game-winning drives by Washington, Stanford and Notre Dame.

But cornerback Torin Harris intercepted freshman quarterback Max Shortell, preventing a repeat performance.

"It was déjà vu all over again," middle linebacker Chris Galippo said. "We knew we had to come out there and get a stop and kind of shut up the critics talking about our two-minute defense."

"We were so tired about hearing all this stuff about our two-minute defense," safety T.J. McDonald said. "Last year is last year."

The defense actually performed well, considering one touchdown allowed came after Minnesota recovered a bad snap by center Khaled Holmes at the USC 33. They allowed just 3.4 yards per carry and 302 yards of total offense and the tackling was noticeably better.

"You just watch the game today and you can see we're not last year's defense," McDonald said.

Where's The Depth?
Despite Kiffin going out of his way to stress that USC would use more players this season, that supposedly newfound depth certainly didn't manifest itself just yet.

Only 43 players made the participation report, compared to 55 for the Gophers.

Most shocking, freshman linebacker Lamar Dawson never played a snap despite a strong fall camp and starter Galippo's injury history.

In fact, the only newcomers to see the field were Lee, kicker Andre Heidari and linebacker Tre Madden, who served as a core special teams contributor.

No News Is Good News
The Trojans got through the game without any apparent injuries.

Even better, they could get two players back next week. Guard Abe Markowitz (foot) said he would return to practice Tuesday, while tight end Christian Thomas (hip) said he could have played if needed. Top Stories