Player of the game, play of the game, quotes, injury report and notes
Player of the game
Make it co-players, as quarterback Jake Locker completed 21 of 35 for 237 yards, and linebacker Donald Butler led everybody with 12 tackles, two for losses, and the game’s only interception.
Play of the game
With 3:03 left and the game tied at 13, Lake Locker found receiver Jermaine Kearse for a 21-yard gain on third-and-15, giving Washington a first down at the UW 49. The Huskies continued on with two more first downs before Erik Folk’s winning 22-yard field goal.
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He said it
“They’ve got a chance to win every football game.” — USC coach Pete Carroll, complimenting the Huskies.
No new injuries.
Taking it all in
As a senior who has been through three years of unimaginable losing, fullback Paul Homer wanted to take in every last minute of this celebration.
And even if he hadn’t, his mom was going to make him.
Homer’s mother, Kathy, made the trip from the family’s home in Nebraska for last week’s game against Idaho, staying through Saturday’s win over USC.
Afterward, she found her son for a long embrace on the field.
“My mom wouldn’t let me go,” he said. “She just latched onto me so I had to stay out there another 10 minutes before I could get out of her arms. … These are the only games she will make this year. It’s awesome.”
Homer added that the win “is the best feeling I’ve had here” and said he has begun to put aside some of the pain of the past few years.
“Any time you don’t win, all the stuff you go through, you ask yourself, ‘Well, what’s going on? Where’s my glory? Where am I going?’ And this is where you want to be, at the pinnacle here.”
Richardson lives up to word
Sophomore cornerback Quinton Richardson was quoted in The Everett Herald last Sunday saying that he guaranteed a win over the Trojans. Saturday, after his guarantee came true, Richardson said he actually didn’t say it the way it came out. He said he just meant to say that the team plays to win every game, “so we are playing to win. It was just a misprint. But luckily my team rallied behind me.”
Richardson said no USC players mentioned the apparent guarantee.
“We all just wanted to play a game,” Richardson said.
Polk runs hard
Statistically, it was Chris Polk’s worst game of the season as he had 71 yards on 25 carries, an average of 2.8 per attempt. He had 80 on 19 carries last week against Idaho and 90 on 21 in the opener against Louisiana State.
But Polk felt this might have been the best of them all — and light years ahead of the Idaho game — after he was challenged by coaches during the week who felt he could have run harder against the Vandals.
“I don’t know what happened last week,” he said. “I felt like I didn’t run as hard and the coaches were really hard on me. They said we’ve seen what kind of runner you are the first week so we want to see that back this week. So they were really on me in practice. They just brought it out of me.”
With USC’s defensive line getting ample penetration, Polk had to fight for every yard, often carrying tacklers for some extra ground.
“It just came down to us playing physical and wanting it more,” he said. “Because our coaches said it would be a physical game and would come down to the fourth quarter. So we worked on being physical and giving 100 percent.”
Polk said the win meant a little more given his history with USC. He committed there late in his junior year of high school before decommitting a couple of months before signing day, in part because he and his mother thought there would be greater opportunity to play sooner at Washington.
Polk said there was the requisite trash-talking during the game, saying, “I try not to talk. I did, but I try not to.”
He got the last word at the end of the game.
“What put the cherry on top of the cake is how [the fans] rushed the field,” he said. “I’ve never been a part of that. That was an amazing experience for me.”
Toeing the line
The Huskies got an unusual penalty in the third quarter when defensive coordinator Nick Holt was penalized for sideline interference for being on the field during a play. The penalty helped give USC a first down of a third-and-17 play, though the drive ended in an interception a few plays later.
“He was a little fired up today,” said UW coach Steve Sarkisian of Holt, adding, “I’ve got to get a little rubber cord and just pull him back myself.”
Sarkisian said UW coaches had been warned earlier and that an official ran into Holt, causing the flag to be thrown.
Still, Sarkisian said he’s not going to reign in the way his assistants coach work.
“We’ve got very intense, excited, enthusiastic coaches so we’ve got to have a little give and take,” Sarkisian said. “I don’t want our guys sitting back five yards. We want to coach — that’s the way we want to coach in practice and in the game. We’ve just got to be smart.”
Sarkisian, Carroll meet
Sarkisian said the rush to the field by the fans afterward made it hard for him to find his former boss, Pete Carroll.
“I was trying to get to Pete and I couldn’t get to Pete, and then I tried to find my wife and couldn’t fine her, so then I just started enjoying it with the students and having fun,” Sarkisian said.
He said he eventually met up with Carroll in the locker room.
“He was great,” Sarkisian said. “Obviously he’s a great coach and it was a challenge for us offensively today. They do a tremendous job, and they will be fine, trust me. That team is going to win a lot of games this year.”
Joe McKnight, the USC tailback, said he could sense that the Huskies, with USC’s former defensive coordinator Holt, had a feel for the Troy offense.
“They were calling out plays while I was on the field,” McKnight said. “A couple of plays I was motioning out and they called out plays.”
But McKnight minimized any coaching edge that way, saying, “They just outplayed us. Hard work beats athleticism any day, and that’s what they did, work hard the whole game.”
In praise of Locker
Carroll was just as effusive lauding Locker as he was during the week leading to the game.
“I’ve told you he’s a great player,” said Carroll. “I’ve seen it for years. I’ve seen it in this guy. He’s a champion. That’s why they struggled so much last year without him.”
USC struggled badly without freshman starting quarterback Matt Barkley, who had a shoulder bruise that stayed with him after the Ohio State game.
Barkley threw Friday and Carroll said after the game, “With the way he threw [Friday], I thought he’d be able to go. Coming back today, he was a little sore. He couldn’t get loose.”
Barkley warmed up in the second half but never entered as Aaron Corp struggled. Said Carroll, “We didn’t throw the ball very well today, it was obvious. We threw the ball for 110 yards. We didn’t get the ball downfield much. It’s obvious we bogged down.”
A couple of Trojans dismissed the idea that they might have come in flat after the fever-pitched victory at Ohio State last week.
“I thought we had a good week of practice,” said Taylor Mays, the former O’Dea High safety whose knee problem kept him out. “I thought the guys were ready to play. We came out fast.”
“We practiced just like we did the last few weeks,” insisted linebacker Michael Morgan. “Everything was on point. They just came out and beat us.”
The same message came from Carroll, who said, “It wasn’t a question of us being ready to play emotionally. We came out firing.”