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November 7, 2007
Griffen adds playmaker to USC defense
Fast-talking Everson Griffen's play finally caught up to his mouth.
After two months of struggling to find his place in USC's defensive end rotation, Griffen found his footing against Oregon State. He just had to trust his feet to do it.
Griffen led USC's defensive effort in Saturday's 24-3 victory over Oregon State with six tackles and 3.5 sacks to earn Rivals.com National Freshman of the Week honors.
"Instead of trying to running through guys, I needed to run around them just like coaches said," said Griffen, who talks a mile-a-minute even immediately after a Monday practice. "I finally ran around people. They've been telling me all year."
Griffen, from the Phoenix suburb of Agua Fria and the sixth-ranked player in the class of 2007, had been a part-time player and contributed seven tackles and 0.5 sacks in seven games.
That changed against an Oregon State team that has struggled to protect the quarterback. USC had a season-high nine sacks against the Beavers, and Griffen's 3.5 were the most for a Trojan since Tim Ryan had four against UCLA in 1989.
While the rest of the Trojans piled the pressure on Oregon State quarterback Sean Canfield, Griffen's performance might have been the most valuable.
With USC leading 10-3 in the second quarter, the Beavers started a possession at their 17. On first down, Griffen sacked Canfield for a loss of 4 yards. He did the same on third down for a loss of 5.
After Oregon State's three-and-out, USC used the good field position on the ensuing possession to take a 17-3 lead.
Griffen added another momentum-suffocating sack in the third quarter immediately following a 19-yard gain.
"He was running into guys (in previous weeks)," USC defensive end Lawrence Jackson told USCFootball.com. "But with that kind of speed, you don't have to run into anybody; you just go around them. He did that, and it showed up."
That's what Griffen had been told for weeks, but he didn't take it to heart on the field until recently. Though he had earned a spot alongside veteran ends Jackson and Kyle Moore and tackles Sedrick Ellis and Fili Moala as a true freshman, Griffen had yet to play to his potential.
"It was a little frustrating, but I knew it would take time," Griffen said. "They told me the past couple of weeks that I'm maturing better, and whenever coaches put you in, make the best of it. Be patient and play your role."
As Griffen is learning, his role is to speed past unsuspecting offensive tackles.
OTHER NOMINEES FOR FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK:
QB Colin Kaepernick, Nevada
TB Knowshon Moreno, Georgia
RB Aaron Crawford, Texas Tech
TB LeSean McCoy, Pittsburgh McCoy became the third Pittsburgh freshman to rush for 1,000 yards joining Tony Dorsett (1973) and Curvin Richards (1988). He ran for 140 yards and the go-ahead touchdown in a 20-17 win over Syracuse.