USC scored in a variety of ways in Saturday’s 42-36 victory against Oregon State at the Coliseum, and the Pac-10 honored two players who may have been most the involved in the No. 4 Trojans’ success.
Redshirt junior running back Allen Bradford was named Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week and redshirt junior Damian Williams was named Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week for their performances against the Beavers.
Bradford had a breakout game after junior running back Joe McKnight injured his hand in the first half. He took advantage of his second-half opportunities, rushing for a career-high 147 yards on 15 carries with two touchdowns.
“It made me feel good,” Bradford said. “I’ve been working hard. I’ve had a long, tough career. It’s been four years now to finally get my opportunity. I’ve got to stay humble.”
USC coach Pete Carroll was pleased with the way Bradford stepped in and seized his chance on the field after spending most of his time at USC in a rotation of running backs, behind players like McKnight, Stafon Johnson, Chauncey Washington and C.J. Gable.
“It’s been a long time for him,” Carroll said. “He’s a guy that everybody respects and loves and he’s as tough as can be. He just hasn’t really had the chance to break out, and boy he really did in a big way.”
Carroll also admitted the coaching staff probably overreacted to McKnight’s hand injury and that the No. 1 running back will be ready to start against Oregon on Saturday. Bradford, however, will still get his opportunities.
“I’m just going to get in where I fit in,” Bradford said. “I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing.”
Williams was honored for his play on special teams for the second time this season. He returned a pair of punts for 68 yards, including a 63-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that ended up as the game’s winning touchdown after the Beavers rallied late.
It was Williams’ second scoring punt return of the season. The other came when he returned a punt 66 yards for a touchdown in USC’s dominating victory over Cal. Williams is now one scoring punt return shy of matching USC’s single-season record set in 1952.
“He’s just so good in the open field,” Carroll said of Williams, who also had six receptions for 68 yards in the contest. “He is a legitimate threat. I don’t know how many guys have run back two punts this year, but we’re at the halfway point, and he’s just kind of getting warmed up.”
Williams, ranked fourth nationally and first in the Pac-10 in punt returns — he averages 18 yards per return — said most of his punt-return success has nothing to do with him.
“Our team is so good and has so many great athletes. If it wasn’t me, the blocking is so good [that it] could be anybody. I just happen to the lucky guy back there,” he said.
Senior tight end Anthony McCoy, another offensive weapon for the Trojans, went down Saturday with a sprained ankle, and Carroll is not sure if he’ll be able to play against the Ducks.
“It didn’t swell up, which is really unusual,” Carroll said of McCoy’s ankle. “So there’s some hope that maybe he’ll have some mobility, but right now I can’t tell you.”
If McCoy can’t play, redshirt sophomore Rhett Ellison will likely start in his place.
USC is also hoping to see senior fullback Stanley Havili return to action Saturday. He participated in practice Monday and is recovering from a dislocated shoulder he suffered against Notre Dame.