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USC linebacker Porter Gustin shines in Seattle

Porter Gustin talks about his big performance against No. 4 Washington that included two sacks and nearly a fumble return for a touchdown (that was reversed on replay).

The USC defense held Washington to just 276 total yards of offense and completely stymied the Huskies' rushing attack, which entered the game No. 1 in the Pac-12. Myles Gaskin was held to 51 yards in 15 carries and five sacks (two not credited by the hometown scorers on the final drive) of Jake Browning left the Huskies with just 17 net yards rushing in 27 carries.

A big part of the defensive effort was sophomore outside linebacker Porter Gustin. His game continues to get better and better with each passing week and that showed with a monster effort against the No. 4 team. Gustin had five tackles, including two sacks to double his season total, and a pass breakup. He also added a hit and four hurries, grading out at a solid 81.5, according to Pro Football Focus.

Gustin's pass breakup nearly turned into a touchdown with the referees initially ruling it a fumble that Gustin scooped and ran in for a score, but the play was eventually overturned after a review.

He talks about the near touchdown as well as the Trojans' effort in their 26-13 upset of Washington at Husky Stadium:

Question: What was working for you out there?
Porter Gustin: Just late in the game, we had kind of shut down their run game and forced them to pass. When that happened, I was able to get off the ball better, know I was pass rushing. I didn't have to read anything and I think that just helped a lot, helping us get back in the backfield. 

Q: Coming into this one, did you expect Washington to be able to run the ball more than they did?
PG: Yea for sure. We came in knowing that they're a great running team. I mean they lead the Pac-12 in rushing yards, so we knew we were up for a challenge and we took it on.

Q: Why were you able to not let them run?
PG: We emphasized run all week, but we did it as well against Oregon. I think we just continue to do what we've been doing and progress. It worked out good for us.

Q: How did you like playing in this atmosphere?
PG: It's great. I love it. I love the noise. I love the fans and I love the big stage with the No. 4 team in the country.

Q: Does Sam Darnold sometimes leave you in awe because of what he can do already as a redshirt freshman?
PG: Absolutely. Yea. I came in with Sam. He's a great kid. He makes big plays all the time. It's pretty amazing what he's doing.

Q: How did you have so much success individually?
PG: The running back was chipping me quite a bit and they switched some things up by putting the tight end over there, which gets you off rhythm. Then late in the game, I was able to get in a little bit more of a rhythm just knowing that it was pass because we had some third-and-longs and second-and-really longs. We had been shutting the run down, so I knew it was pass and I was just able to focus on one thing.

Q: For the team, has the confidence been this high at any point in the two years you have been here?
PG: I think it probably reached a high today coming off six in a row or whatever it was and being able to beat this team at their place.

Q: Are you finally playing, you and the team, how you thought you should have been playing all year long?
PG: Yea I think so. We definitely have room to improve still. We still have guys, including myself, missing assignments at times and I think we can clean that up for sure. 

Q: How frustrating was it when you think you have a touchdown and it gets called back?
PG: I kind of knew in the back of my head that it wasn't. I knew [Browning] had some forward motion on that. They didn't blow the whistle, so I picked the ball up and did what I was supposed to do, but I knew it wasn't.

Q: What were you thinking when they gave you the touchdown initially?
PG: I was thinking well hopefully they don't call it back. Maybe, somehow, he did let go of it before his hand came forward, but I thought that it was going to get called back. But it's alright. Haha.

Q: What was it like in the locker room after the game?
PG: It was great. Everybody smiling. I don't know if I've seen us that happy before. Coaches and all. It was great.

Q: What are you doing differently? How are you different from the guy against Alabama?
PG: I think the hard work that I put in in the offseason is finally starting to pay off. I put a ton of work in in the entire offseason. It's a little bit different when you're putting in work against bags and doing that stuff than you are actually against another opponent. I think as the year has gone on, I've been able to adjust to that and just get a feel and a rhythm for what's going on.

Q: How much did it help that the offense was able to pick up a lot of third downs?
PG: Oh yea. It's great. It's a confidence booster for sure. Being on the punt team, I'm over there every third down. When they get it, it's relieving. We don't have to go out and punt and they got another chance to score. It's great.

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Publisher Ryan Abraham contributed to this story.

Follow Shotgun on Twitter: @ShotgunSpr

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