Hayes Pullard dropped back into coverage. He let one Washington State wide receiver pass from his right to left and he found himself in the middle of the field. His eyes were fixated on Connor Halliday and when he saw the ball released from the WSU quarterback’s hands, Pullard knew he’d hit the jackpot.
“I knew that the defensive line was getting there and getting pressure on the quarterback so I knew the ball was going to be out,” Pullard said. “I was trying to be trigger happy every chance I got. The ball actually went into my hands. I went up there and grabbed it, just thankful for the defense lineman to be able to go out there and cause chaos for the quarterbacks.”
The senior linebacker had a chance at another interception later on in the game, but the ball somehow found a way to deflect off of his hands and fall to the ground. Pullard wasn’t making up any excuses for the falter.
“Yeah, I dropped it,” Pullard said. “I don’t think there’s any coaching you can use for that besides just catch the ball.”
When Halliday went down with what looked like a bad injury, that turned out to be a broken fibula in his right leg, everybody in the stadium was stunned silent. WSU freshman QB Luke Falk made his way into the game, but not before Pullard and Cody Kessler ran out on to the field to give Halliday their best wishes.
“We just said we were going to pray for him,” Pullard said. “We pray that it’s nothing bad happening to him. We know him from past relationships. We just wish the best for him. We said that we’ll text him after the game and make sure everything is okay.”
With a freshman quarterback seeing his first major time this season, you might think Pullard and his defensive teammates would be licking their lips to try and bite on every chance at a big play. Even though there was a change at the quarterback position for WSU, there was no change in the defensive game plan for USC.
“We still had to play them honest,” Pullard said. “We knew he was going to come in and try and make a name for himself. He’s playing against SC. That’s everybody’s debut. We have to go out there, play to the best of our ability. Can’t play to the level of our competition.”
Hayes Pullard grew up in Inglewood (Calif.), attended Crenshaw High School and has been used to the California sun his entire life. Unlike some of his Floridian teammates who have played in soaking wet conditions, Pullard hasn’t always been exposed to the elements. There’s no denying he was exposed to them on Saturday afternoon.
“It was definitely something to get used to for future references and being able to go out there and being able to maximize every opportunity,” Pullard said. “It’s weather that you don’t get to embrace in L.A. so it was actually kind of fun to be out there and see the clouds, the rain and stuff like that.”
Coming off of a tough loss against Utah, it looked like the Trojans’ chances at making the Pac-12 Championship game were slim. However, they’re not as bad as you may think. Unthinkable things don’t have to happen for the Trojans to get there in December, but one thing is for sure: the Trojans have to win out. The win against WSU was a step in the right direction.
“Basically we got to overcome obstacles,” Pullard said. “Like I said, we got hit in the face once again. I love this team because we never lay down after a loss. We keep fighting and being able to come out here and pull off that win, it’s great for us… That’s the main goal, going undefeated and being able to focus on our preparation, focusing on continuing to get better. Learning from film and mistakes and situations like that and growing from it.”
November is the month where the regular season starts to dwindle down. There’s no time for mistakes. It’s put up or shut up time for the Trojans.
“It’s starting something new,” Pullard said. “We forgot about the past. November is the biggest thing. That’s the goal, is going undefeated in November. We have two rivalry games. We’re going to be staying in Los Angeles for awhile so it’s great to be home.”