November 2, 2008

News and notes: Washington

USC head coach Pete Carroll has been waiting for days like Saturday out of Patrick Turner, with his size and skill set.

Physically, Turner's always looked the part of just a deadly weapon around the end zone, with superior height, long arms and a strong frame.

The waiting, it turns out, is now paying off.

Turner had two touchdown catches in the Trojans' 56-0 win over Washington Saturday at the Coliseum.

"The difference is he's older and he's confident," Carroll said. "He's reaping the benefits of the years of experience in getting to this point. He's a go-to guy for us."

Turner's touchdowns came on two very different routes, with quarterback Mark Sanchez finding him on a quick slant from four yards out before seeing him streaking down the sideline after a beautiful pump fake and connecting on a 32-yard touchdown strike.

The first score came on a pivotal third down, and Sanchez made a quick read to Turner's side of the field.

"When we're in the red zone, I just expect us to score every time," Turner said. "We have so many threats. Somebody's going to be open."

And with his 6-foot-5, 220-pound frame, often times, it's him.

"He's a big target; that helps," Sanchez said. "He has a lot of range to him. He's got soft hands. You know you can put it anywhere on him, and he'll make the grab."

Over the last three games, Turner's caught four touchdowns (all coming in the first quarter) to give him a team-leading seven receiving scores this season.

After three years of perceived underachieving, Turner's morphed into USC's most consistent receiver, with 433 yards on 29 catches - second only to Damian Williams.

Carroll has witnessed the process and isn't surprised by the jump in Turner's production.

"Patrick's just become a dominant football player for us. He's grown into it. In year's past, it was coming. We could see it," Carroll said. "He really is owning the football right now. He's all over it. He's using his body well.

"He's got a tremendous physique for making big plays with guys hanging all over him, and he's using it well."

For Turner, the hard work he's put in during film sessions and in the weight room are paying off - seemingly with a trip to the end zone each week.

"I'm just trying to be a technician, really," Turner said. "I've been making sure that I get good position. I've been making sure that I've been focused on the ball when it's coming. Film study is a big part in knowing how a defense plays and what their coverages are."

Welcome back

A quadriceps injury sidelined Marc Tyler for a meaningful amount of time after he scored his first touchdown of his career at Virginia in USC' season opener.

Last week, Tyler returned to practice, just in time to carry the load for USC in the second half of the Trojans' lopsided win over Washington.

Tyler led USC with 16 carries, rushing for 85 yards and a touchdown. The 16 carries and 85 yards were career highs.

If Tyler had been practicing and not playing, he said, he'd have felt more a part of the Trojans' success.

"I think it was important to get back and contribute to the team in a win. You don't want to be the guy who is always hurt and doesn't practice. It just felt good to be back out there," he said. "When you don't practice because you're hurt, it's hard because you don't feel like you're doing anything.

"You come back to the locker room and all the guys are sweating. After practices, I was still dry. I was still getting in the shower with them."

Safety plan

When Will Harris got word that senior Kevin Ellison would be out of the lineup for two to four weeks with a torn meniscus, he didn't rush into the film room for a last-minute cram session.

"Nothing changes," he said. "I prepare everyday like I'm going to start."

Harris got his first start Saturday, and finished the game with six tackles, including a team-best 2.5 for losses.

"It hurt us a lot to lose Kevin, but things happen I have to fill in and do a good job and let my team depend on me. I just need to try to do everything right," Harris said. "I just want to thank God for my opportunity and thank Kevin for helping me prepare so well for the game. I've been up in the film room with him each week watching film.

"He's our leader. That's why he's such a great captain."

Still, Harris gives the USC secondary an edge with his big-hitting style.

"That's just me. That's how I try to play every day," he said. "That's how I learned it - just hit and out-hit. We talk about it in our defensive meeting rooms every day, to out-hit.

"That's our defense."

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