When Washington needed a stop, Myles Bryant delivered it.
On fourth-and-goal from the UW 2-yard line late in the fourth quarter, USC quarterback Matt Fink threw a fade to the back corner. Bryant, Washington’s senior safety, leaped to knock the ball out of the hands of wide receiver Drake London and abruptly end the Trojans’ drive.
Here are three more impressions from No. 17 UW’s 28-14 win over No. 21 USC.
An explosive 14-point swing
How quickly things change. Trailing 20-7 midway through the third quarter on Saturday, USC running back Stephen Carr ripped off a 60-yard run along the right sideline. Freshman safety Cameron Williams took an inefficient pursuit route on the play, extending what appeared to be a damaging Trojan drive.
But Elijah Molden promptly halted the Trojan momentum, snagging his first career interception on the edge of the goal line. Two plays later, Salvon Ahmed — who had fumbled into the end zone earlier in the day — swiftly redeemed himself, making an abrupt jump cut before sprinting a whopping 89 yards into the end zone. It was the fifth-longest longest run from scrimmage in school history, and the longest of the last 25 years.
Ahmed, who missed the first game of his career in last weekend’s 45-19 win over BYU because of a leg injury, looked plenty healthy inside Husky Stadium on Saturday. He finished with a career best 153 rushing yards, 11.6 yards per carry and a touchdown.
Fumble? What fumble? The only thing fans will remember is Ahmed’s redemptive run.
Young secondary makes plays, and mistakes
Think Jimmy Lake trusts UW’s young defensive backs? In the second quarter, four true or redshirt freshmen — corners Trent McDuffie and Kyler Gordon, nickel Asa Turner and safety Cameron Williams — all earned significant reps in the defensive secondary. That’s even more noteworthy when you consider that first-year USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell’s air raid offense is predicated on a prolific passing game.
And, for the most part, the young Huskies impressed. McDuffie corralled 260-pound junior tight end Erik Krommenhoek on the Trojans’ first pass attempt of the game. A diving pass breakup by Gordon forced a punt on USC’s opening drive. Williams secured his second career interception late in the first quarter, when USC quarterback Matt Fink airmailed a pass over the middle, and sealed the game with another pick at the goal line with 2:20 left in the fourth quarter.
But, as is so often the case with young contributors, it wasn’t perfect. For Williams, it was far from it. A missed tackle on USC wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown on third-and-six extended the Trojans’ drive and resulted in their lone first-half touchdown. The 6-0, 191-pound freshman also took an inefficient angle that allowed USC running back Stephen Carr to break a 60-yard run in the third quarter. And late in the third quarter, he bit on Fink’s play-action and allowed wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. to run by him for a 44-yard touchdown.
UW’s questionable run defense
Remember that 60-yard run by Stephen Carr? Unfortunately for Husky fans, that outburst was not a fluke.
USC rushed for 212 yards and a touchdown, averaging 6.4 yards per carry. The Trojans repeatedly thrashed the left side of the Husky defense, and running back Markese Stepp added a 35-yard run in the fourth quarter.
Carr led the Trojans with 94 yards and 13.4 yards per carry. Stepp added 62 rushing yards and 6.2 yards per rush, and Vavae Malepeai registered 49 yards and 4.9 yards per carry.
For a UW defense that also struggled to stop the run in a 20-19 loss to Cal, this is certainly a troubling trend.