Desmond Trufant, UW's senior cornerback, took the primary role in holding Marquise Lee of USC to just two catches for 32 yards.
Desmond Trufant said his goal for defending USC’s dynamic receiver Marqise Lee ultimately was pretty simple.
“I tried to limit him as much as possible,” Trufant said.
In the end, he did that probably about as well as the Huskies could have hoped.
Trufant, UW’s senior cornerback, took the primary role in holding Lee to just two catches for 32 yards.
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Lee, a sophomore, entered the game second in the nation in receptions per game at 10.4, and fourth in yards per game at 129.8.
While Lee’s team won, USC leaving town with a 24-14 victory, Trufant was able to take some bragging rights in an individual battle some billed as one of the most enticing in the nation this week.
“I knew it was going to be a big challenge and I was up for it and I think I did pretty good tonight,” Trufant said.
Washington defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox agreed, saying “he did a heck of a job.”
Wilcox had talked during the week that one challenge for Trufant would be simply finding Lee to defend him. But the Huskies were able to tweak things with their scheme to get Trufant matched up on Lee most of the time.
Those defenses also helped the Huskies cover USC’s other standout receiver, Robert Woods. He usually was matched up on redshirt freshman Marcus Peters, who is emerging as UW’s other cornerback.
Wilcox said some of what UW did to try to contain USC’s passing attack “hurt us in the run a little bit. But we knew that going in that if we pick and choose a time to help the corners, they might bleed a run on us … we had to manage that and pick and choose our times to get after them.”
Statistically, it worked pretty well as USC and quarterback Matt Barkley were held to 167 yards passing.
Lee appeared frustrated at times, jawing on occasion with Trufant.
But Trufant said there were no hard feelings.
“We was just competing,” he said. “We was out there having fun. There was nothing disrespectful, just two guys competing and I loved it.”
gets into the act
There was a simple explanation when UW tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins made just two catches last week at Oregon — an ankle injury that held him out of the second half.
But it was more head-scratching when the first half ended Saturday and Seferian-Jenkins — who entered the weekend with the second-most catches of any tight end in the country with 24 — had just one for four yards.
That changed quickly in the second half as Seferian-Jenkins caught four for 79 yards, including a 34-yarder to set up his 29-yard TD reception from Keith Price.
Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said part of the uptick was simply attempting to go to Seferian-Jenkins more after halftime.
“I think it was a little bit of us going to him more and making it a point of emphasis,” he said, adding that it was challenging to make deep throws due to the way USC was pressuring Price.
Seferian-Jenkins said there was nothing different about how USC defended him in either half.
“It was just the looks were there and opportunities, and I took the best of my opportunities,” he said, adding, “I’ve got to do a better job in the first half, run better routes.”
kept in check
Washington receiver Kasen Williams was held to just two catches for 22 yards, and none after halftime, though he was open on a deep pass in the fourth quarter when Price simply threw the ball too far.
Sarkisian said Williams was also hurt by UW’s inability to run many deep routes due to protection issues.
USC coach Lane Kiffin, though, also credited the play of USC cornerback Nickell Robey, who, like Trufant, figures to contend for all-conference honors.
• After struggling with pass protection in the first half, the Huskies changed up the offensive line in the second, replacing guard Shane Brostek and moving James Atoe from right tackle to right guard and inserting Mike Criste at right tackle. Sarkisian had praised the play of the offensive line last week against Oregon but said, “I thought they faced a better defensive line today. … We knew this was a good front and there were going to be challenges there for us. I thought our guys in the second half tried better, competed harder.”
• Sarkisian said blocking issues up front helped lead to a blocked punt that led to a USC TD in the second quarter. “They came with more guys then they have been coming with,” he said. “It’s unfortunate because I think the natural thing is to say the three guys (in front of punter Travis Coons) didn’t get it done which really isn’t the case. We had a breakdown in the front line of the protection that caused the issue. That is something we practice every day so we just didn’t execute it very well.”
• A few recruits made official visits, including LB Caleb Tucker of Monroe, La., who was one of seven players who committed on one day to UW last summer. Also reported to be in attendance was LB Danny Mattingly of Mead High in Spokane. Mattingly has already verbally committed to Notre Dame.