Over the last couple games, the Trojans have been affected by injuries on both sides of the ball. On Saturday, several players had to leave the game, but according to the coaching staff, none of the injuries suffered were believed to be serious.
Senior defensive tackle DaJohn Harris and sophomore cornerback Torin Harris were both labeled as game-time decisions entering Saturday’s game, but neither played.
Though Harris suited up and participated in pre-game warm-up drills, the coaching staff opted to replace him with redshirt freshman defensive tackle George Uko, who recorded 1.5 sacks.
Junior left tackle Matt Kalil had to leave the game for a brief moment in the third quarter and the coaching staff examined his chest/shoulder area on the sideline.
He did return, though. Junior safety T.J. McDonald did not play in the second half because of blurred vision.
Senior defensive tackle Christian Tupou also had to leave the game and held an ice pack on his surgically repaired left knee after the game.
USC coach Lane Kiffin noted after the game that on Thursday night, freshman wide receiver Marqise Lee had the flu and was sent to the health center.
According to Kiffin, the original plan was to use Lee sparingly. The Serra graduate, however, responded well in the early phases of the game and showed no lingering effects.
Lee finished with nine receptions for 74 yards and one touchdown. It was his eighth touchdown in his last eight games.
A strength for the USC team this season has been the play of its special teams. Against Washington, that same unit helped spur the Trojans to victory. Leading 7-3 in the second quarter and facing a 4th-and-9, redshirt junior punter Kyle Negrete fielded a snap and rushed 35 yards for a first down deep into Washington territory.
Negrete, who previously doubled as both a punter and linebacker at the University of San Diego, finished his run by running over his tackler and drawing approval from the crowd.
“There wasn’t a lot of juice right at that point,” Kiffin said. “The ball was getting closer to midfield and it was a look that we felt good at. [Special teams coach John] Baxter was a little bit nervous about going that far on 4th-and-9, but that’s who we are. We believe in our players and put it on our players to make plays.”
Though Kiffin instructed Negrete to slide after he picked up enough yards for the first down, the 6-foot, 210-pounder felt comfortable enough carrying the ball for additional yards.
“I haven’t seen green grass like that since I was playing in high school,” Negrete said.
To begin the second half, Lee returned an 88-yard kickoff for a touchdown, giving USC a 30-3 lead. It was his second consecutive two-touchdown game after notching his first multiple-touchdown game against Colorado.
For all of the praise Kiffin gave his defense and his role players for proving the team could win comfortably even without career days from junior quarterback Matt Barkley and sophomore wide receiver Robert Woods, he was equally dismayed with the number and nature of the Trojans’ penalties.
“The penalties today were embarrassing,” Kiffin said. “We were not a disciplined football team. We didn’t handle being ahead very well. We got too lackadaisical and did not play smart football.”
USC committed 11 penalties for 78 yards, including Kalil’s third personal foul penalty this season and junior cornerback Tony Burnett’s second consecutive game with a special teams penalty that negated a Woods return. Washington also committed 12 penalties for 91 yards.
At halftime, the Huskies had recorded more penalties, nine, than first downs, five.