USC football: Taylor Mays, Damian Williams are Pac-10 players of week
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USC’s impressive victory over California didn’t do anything for USC in terms of its standings in the polls, but Trojans players garnered two of the three weekly Pacific 10 Conference awards.
All-American safety Taylor Mays was named defensive player of the week and receiver Damian Williams was honored as the special teams player of the week for their performances in the seventh-ranked Trojans’ dismantling of the Golden Bears.
Mays made the game-changing play when he intercepted a pass in the back of the end zone to end a Cal threat on the first possession.
As I wrote in a feature story about Mays before the season, the senior works tirelessly to improve his catching ability. It paid off against Cal on a night when Mays also made a team-best 10 tackles.
If the interception was Mays’ top play, his chasing down Cal tailback Jahvid Best on a third-and-one play in the second quarter was almost as impressive. Best took a pitch, ran to his right and tried to turn the corner, but Mays came across the field and forced him out of bounds.
‘I was hoping they would pitch it and I was kind of calling it on the sideline,’ Coach Pete Carroll said. ‘That was a cool one because we knew it was coming.
‘It was about as classic a head-to-head, mano-a-mano situation as you could get.’
Williams all but sealed the victory when he returned a punt 66 yards for a touchdown, punctuating the play with a spectacular dive to the left pylon. Williams also had eight catches for 101 yards for the Trojans, who have an open date this week.
-- Gary Klein