The Trojans lost arguably their most important defensive player last week when Kevin Ellison went down with a knee injury that he suffered in practice on Thursday.
Ellison is considered the toughest player to replace on the defensive side of the ball because of his leadership qualities and knowledge of the game, but Will Harris stepped in at the strong safety spot and performed well above expectations against the Washington Huskies.
"Will Harris came in and played a very good football game," Pete Carroll said. "He was active, he was aggressive, he almost had a couple of picks, and was all over the football."
Harris tied for the team lead with six tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss and a pass breakup.
"It was great to see Will do that," Carroll said. "He's been waiting for his chances. He played very well last week, leading up to this game, and I thought he played a really, really sharp football game for us."
The junior safety was all over the field delivering big hits and was a key component in the Trojans third shutout in their last four games.
"He really answered the call," Carroll added. "He's a playmaker."
At practice on Monday, Harris said he was pleased with his performance but has to stay focused and improve every week.
"It was very exciting, but I see some things that I need to work on out here at practice," Harris said. "My main focus is to keep getting better."
While Kevin Ellison wasn't able to play on Saturday, Harris credits the veteran leader for getting him ready to face the Washington Huskies with some tips in the film room.
"We go through film every week. He's the smartest guy by far," Harris said of Ellison. "I think it is the way he watches film. He has brothers in the NFL and he learned off of them."
News and Notes
- Senior safety Kevin Ellison had surgery Monday morning on his injured knee and Coach Carroll was optimistic about the results.
"It worked out really well," Carroll said. "They said everything will have a chance to be on schedule and maybe even a three week return."
- Tailback Joe McKnight practiced on Monday without any limitations.
- When Pete Carroll was alerted by a member of the media that Barack Obama was in favor of a playoff system in college football, Carroll replied, "I knew I was voting for the right guy."
- The Trojans held a short scrimmage for the younger players after Monday's practice. Coach Carroll said they will continue to do this every Monday, for the rest of the season, as a way to get the younger players some individual coaching in a game-like setting.
"It's a really nice opportunity for us to coach just these guys," Carroll said. "It was fun. We had a good time out there with those guys."
Fun Facts and Stats
- In four home games this season, the Trojans have outscored the opposition 163-13.
- USC had five different players rush for touchdowns against Washington (Gable, Sanchez, Johnson, Green and Tyler).
- The Trojans scored touchdowns on all six of their fist half possessions against Washington.
- USC has outscored the state of Washington 125-0 (Washington State 69-0, Washington 56-0)
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