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USC rewind & fast forward

Times Staff Writer

Rewind

Looking back at No. 1 USC’s 47-14 victory over Washington State

As expected: The Trojans successfully returned to a more balanced offensive approach by getting quarterback John David Booty into an early rhythm with short throws that allowed receivers to regain their confidence after a poor showing at Nebraska.

USC’s defensive line got pressure on Washington State quarterback Alex Brink, linebackers filled the gaps and shut down the Cougars’ rushing attack and the secondary mostly kept Washington State’s receivers in front of them, giving up only one long play.

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Unexpected: Booty turned repeatedly to tight end Fred Davis, who caught nine passes, two for touchdowns.

Davis has always been a weapon, though (some say) an underutilized one, so his emergence in such grand fashion came as a surprise. His 124 yards receiving were the most ever in a game by a Trojans tight end.

Stepped up: Davis had a career performance, but Patrick Turner’s comeback from his Nebraska effort was a key for the Trojans. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian got Turner involved early, mainly with short catch-and-run plays, and the junior responded with six receptions for 64 yards.

Senior tailback Chauncey Washington slipped tackles and ran over other defenders in his first start of the season, freshman Joe McKnight ran well in his first extended playing time and sixth-year senior Hershel Dennis impressed in his first action since 2004.

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Defensive end Lawrence Jackson had two sacks, end Kyle Moore intercepted another pass and linebacker Keith Rivers’ 14 tackles were the most by a USC player since Lofa Tatupu had 14 against Oregon State in 2003.

Stepped back: Tailback C.J. Gable started against Nebraska and averaged 17 yards a carry, but he got only one carry against Washington State and gained six yards. “He didn’t get his chances,” Coach Pete Carroll said.

Tailback Stafon Johnson, who gained 144 yards in 11 carries against Nebraska, found the going tougher against Washington State, running for 48 yards in nine carries.

Asked if Washington would start again at tailback against Washington, Carroll said, “I don’t know. We’ll figure it out during the week.”

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Coach’s quote: Carroll: “We made good progress. We’ve started to kind of balance out and everybody is getting involved. We’re starting to figure our guys out a little bit.”

Carroll, however, remains displeased with USC’s minus-.67 turnover margin, which ranks 89th nationally.

“It hasn’t factored in yet, but it will,” he said.

Injury report: Cornerback Cary Harris is expected to sit out a few weeks because of a dislocated right shoulder, Carroll said. Sophomore Shareece Wright will start in his place.

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Linebacker Brian Cushing came back from an ankle sprain that forced him to sit out most of the opener against Idaho and limited him to only a few snaps against Nebraska. But Cushing reinjured the ankle against Washington State.

Cornerback and kick returner Vincent Joseph is expected to return this week.

Fast forward

Looking ahead to the game vs. Washington

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(Saturday, Husky Stadium, Seattle, 5 p.m., Ch. 7)

First look: The Huskies lost to Ohio State and UCLA after starting the season with victories over Syracuse and Boise State.

Washington lost to the Bruins, 44-31, but Carroll is impressed with Huskies quarterback Jake Locker, a redshirt freshman.

“He’s as good a prospect as we’ve seen in our conference in a long time,” Carroll said.

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Topic of the week: Harris’ injury puts Wright in the starting lineup and gives safety/cornerback Mozique McCurtis a bigger role in the rotation.

The cornerback shuffle caused Carroll to play freshman safety Marshall Jones against Washington State, burning Jones’ redshirt year.

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Season log (3-0)

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Idaho (1-3); Won, 38-10.

at then-No. 14 Nebraska (3-1); Won, 49-31.

Washington State (2-2, 0-1 in Pac-10); Won, 47-14: Cougars thought they might be on Brink of a breakthrough but Trojans defense would not cooperate.

Saturday at Washington (2-2, 0-1): Huskies’ difficult early schedule continues when top-ranked Trojans come to town.

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Oct. 6: Stanford (1-2, 0-2)

Oct. 13: Arizona (1-3, 0-1)

Oct. 20: at Notre Dame (0-4)

Oct. 27: at Oregon (4-0, 1-0)

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Nov. 3: Oregon State (2-2, 0-1)

Nov. 10: at California (4-0, 1-0)

Nov. 22: at Arizona State (4-0, 1-0)

Dec. 1: UCLA (3-1, 2-0)

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