Oct. 22, 2005
Moss Makes Most Of First Start:
Durrell Moss made the most of a surprise start, replacing the suspended Matt Fountaine at one cornerback spot on Saturday. Although Moss had a few nerves during the game, the third-year sophomore from Orange, Calif., did not show it on the field.
Moss led the team with 10 tackles and even managed the only sack of Heisman Trophy Winner Matt Leinart. Not bad for a guy who has bounced around from fullback, safety and linebacker in his short stint with the Huskies.
"I thought Durrell stepped in and did some good things," said Husky Head Coach Tyrone Willingham. "That's a tough position to be in because Durrell hadn't started for us all year and we asked him to play against the nation's best team, and we know that their receiving core is very talented. Without looking at the film and analyzing all of the things that he did, I thought he did a pretty good job."
While his overall game was solid, the one play that he will remember most was taking down the heralded Leinart.
"Everyone wants to sack a Heisman Trophy winner," said Moss about corralling Leinart in the backfield. "I just did my job--they called a corner blitz--and I was lucky enough to get the sack."
Coming into the game, Moss had played in just four games and made two tackles. He learned on Tuesday that he would be getting the start and spent the week preparing himself mentally for facing USC. He admits to being a little nervous, but it was more about the situation than the opponent.
"I think I would have had jitters against pretty much anybody," said Moss. "I don't care who we would have played, it still was my first start. I've never been out there before and they were depending on me being out there the whole game because I didn't have anyone to really back me up."
The Trojans ultimately proved to be too much for the Huskies to handle, but Moss says he and the rest of the Huskies are undaunted and ready to get back on the field.
"We were disappointed that we lost, even knowing they were number one and 31-point favorites," said Moss. "But we feel like we were ready and that we could play with them. We feel like we can play with anybody but we've just got to get the little things straightened out."
One thing that is straightened out for the Huskies is that they now have another body in Durrell Moss who they can depend on to make plays in the defensive backfield against tough opponents.
Tight End Lewis Has Career Day:
Tight end Robert Lewis had the best game of his young career. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound third-year sophomore hauled in four balls for 50 yards, both career highs. Lewis came into the game with just six catches and it was evident early on that the Huskies planned to exploit their tight ends more.
"I've been kind of quiet during part of the season so I don't think they really thought I was going to get the ball so coach just called some to me," said Lewis. "I'm feeling more confident out there and feeling like I can make a lot more plays and that I'm a factor on offense."
Two of his catches helped Washington convert on third down, as the Huskies improved what has been a rough facet of their game. The Huskies converted five of seven third downs in the first half and eight of 14 for the game.
Lewis wasn't the only part of the Husky offense that played well against the top-ranked Trojans. Despite two turnovers, Washington kept pace with USC, actually running 14 more plays and winning the time of possession battle by nearly ten minutes in the first half. Quarterback Isaiah Stanback had another strong performance, completing 14 of 18 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown.
The solid play at time was not overlooked by Coach Willingham, but at the same time he felt the Huskies didn't reach the bottom line.
"I am still very excited about our football team and the effort they gave," said Willingham. "However, we have always said that effort is not enough, it is about getting the wins. We fell short and they did some good things in order to get the win."
Special Teams Fireworks:
Husky kick-returner Marlon Wood is earning a big-play reputation for himself. The son of former USC All-American Richard Wood took the opening kickoff back 92-yards, the longest non-scoring return in Husky history. He also has the longest pass reception by a Husky this season, hooking up with Stanback for a 69-yard connection against Notre Dame earlier this season.
Unfortunately for Wood, he hurt his ankle on the play and did not return to action for the Huskies. Also, unfortunately for Wood and the Huskies, his play was trumped by two stellar special teams efforts from the Trojans.
With the Huskies holding a fragile lead of 10-7 after a touchdown catch from Craig Chambers, the Trojans' Darnell Bing responded with a 68-yard return on the ensuing kickoff that was followed one play later by a 24-yard touchdown reception by Dwayne Jarrett.
The Trojans were just beginning though. Reggie Bush added to his highlight reel in the second quarter by dodging would-be-tacklers for an 84-yard punt return for a touchdown. USC quarterback Matt Leinart says he could see the explosion from Bush coming.
"I called it," claimed Leinart. "He was about due to have one of these games. I think he's probably relieved that he got his first punt return."
After the game, the Huskies argued that the scintillating run never should have even occurred. It appeared that Bush called for a fair catch, but Husky Coach Willingham is not making any excuses for his team.
"That is what our coaches were saying in the press box," said Willingham about the apparent fair catch signal. "But you have to play the game. We had him wrapped up and we have to make that tackle."