Orgeron not content with pass rush

USC defensive line, tasked with stopping Washington running back Chris Polk, has fared well against the run.

LOS ANGELES – Ed Orgeron is never one to mince words. So it's not a surprise he didn't sugarcoat his evaluation of the USC defensive line's play this season.

"I don't think we've played great. No question, we haven't had a dominating performance," he said.

Orgeron did differentiate between its play against the run, where the Trojans have been solid, allowing 106.4 yards per game, and the pass rush, which has only accounted for 10.5 of the team's 16 sacks this season.

"We definitely need to improve our four-man rush," he said. "We haven't had just a completely dominating game. More than anything we've played well but didn't have sacks. We're playing the run well. We need to rush the passer better."

USC started out strong, taking down the quarterback nine times in its first three games, and should be able to take advantage of a Washington offense allowing 2.44 sacks per game.

The bigger concern this week will be limiting running back Chris Polk, averaging 121.8 rushing yards per game. Last season, he gashed USC for 92 yards on 13 carries, including 37 on the game-winning drive.

Asked how to stop Polk, Orgeron said, "Tackle."

"You really can't let him get in space," he added. "You have to make sure the first hit sticks."

The defensive line could be tasked with stopping Polk minus tackle DaJohn Harris, who did not practice for the second consecutive day with an ankle injury.

Harris, a redshirt senior, is second on the team in tackles for loss with seven. He has also shown a remarkable knack for batting down passes, his six pass breakups tied with cornerback Nickell Robey for most among USC defenders.

Orgeron credited Harris' concentration for that surprising statistic.

"DaJohn is very smart," Orgeron said. "He has an awareness about himself."

Getting Healthy
Aside from Harris, USC welcomed back most of the players that missed the rare Monday practice, among them running backs Marc Tyler (shoulder) and George Farmer (ankle), safety Jawanza Starling (rib) and linebackers Dion Bailey (concussion) and Hayes Pullard (neck).

Bailey, however, still has not been cleared for contact.

USC head coach Lane Kiffin was optimistic that all would be available against Washington.

Tyler, for his part, reported no pain in his shoulder, which he dislocated at California and reinjured against Stanford.

"I'm just ready to play," the redshirt senior said. "I feel fresh."

Friendly Back and Forth
One day after Washington coach Steve Sarkisian made several interesting remarks during his press conference, Kiffin responded to his old friend with a few funny jabs.

Sarkisian said he would take quarterback Matt Barkley ahead of Stanford's Andrew Luck, the Heisman Trophy frontrunner and consensus No. 1 overall pick who led a 65-21 thrashing of the Huskies last month.

"He's never been an NFL coach, remember? He turned it down. Made me go," Kiffin said of Sarkisian's skills evaluating personnel.

Asked if his friendship with Sarkisian has been hurt as the two are now coaching in the same conference, Kiffin said on the weekly teleconference, "It's going downhill because that really didn't help me at all when he said for the second year that we are the most talented team in the country.

"All he's doing is pointing out is we have all these great players so we must not be very good coaches."


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