USC: Erik Folk

5 things to watch: Washington-USC

November, 11, 2011
11/11/11
12:39
PM PT
1. Back-to-back-to-back. Until this year, it had been a full decade since USC had lost three straight games to a single opponent. Stanford reset the clock on that last month at the Coliseum with its triple-overtime victory over the Trojans, but USC runs the risk of doing that once again this weekend against Washington. The last two times the Trojans and Huskies have met, Washington has pulled out last-minute victories on the foot of kicker Erik Folk. USC's favored by nearly two touchdowns this time around, but this isn't the typical game with that margin. The Huskies were just as easily supposed to lose each of the last two games, but Jake Locker buoyed them into victories each time.

2. Price and Polk. On the topic of Locker, Keith Price is no Locker, but Washington's Price and Chris Polk are up there this year among all the QB-RB tandems the Trojans have faced, probably behind only Stanford's Andrew Luck and Stepfan Taylor. Polk, a junior who once committed to USC in high school, has gotten at least 100 yards from scrimmage in every game this season and has already surpassed 1,000 yards. Price started the season, his first as the starter, really hot but has since cooled down. He's thrown a combined five picks in his last two games, so the Trojans clearly have an opportunity to force turnovers against him.

3. A healthy defense. Those turnovers depend on the playmakers of this defense, and a couple of those playmakers were absent against Colorado last week. Strongside linebacker Dion Bailey, the biggest pleasant surprise of the unit this year, wasn't cleared to play because of a concussion but is now slated to move back into the starting lineup for Washington. And safety T.J. McDonald missed the first half of that game because of a Pac-12 suspension -- he'll be playing right away against the Huskies, and he'll be motivated after USC coach Lane Kiffin told reporters that McDonald played tentatively in the second half last week.

4. The USC RBs. Curtis McNeal has been handling himself just fine as USC's primary running back the last two weeks, except for the injuries that seem to come up every time he picks up more than 10 or so carries in a game. The good thing for the Trojans is that Marc Tyler is healthy again and will be available against Washington. Against Notre Dame, McNeal and Tyler made for a combination the Irish had no consistent answer for, so it'll be interesting to see if the Huskies have anything ND didn't. George Farmer is also expected to play for the first time since the Notre Dame game, so the Trojans could use him for a trick play or a mix-'em-up call.

5. Sarkisian-Kiffin. The two coaches, USC's Kiffin and Washington's Steve Sarkisian, managed to create some entertainment for Saturday's game with their back-and-forth barbs this week. There's something fun about their interactions, almost as if you can see the Pete Carroll influence in the both of them. Both have the opportunity to get one step closer to making their 2011 seasons unabated successes with wins Saturday. In Sarkisian's case, a win against the Trojans means his team is probably going to finish with nine wins, considering the Huskies' last two opponents. In Kiffin's case, a win against Washington means his team is going to enter into next week's matchup with Oregon a top-15 team, probably right around the same rank as the Ducks if they lose to Stanford on Saturday. A lot's on the line for both men, and there will surely be attention paid to their postgame interactions at the Coliseum.

First look: Washington

November, 8, 2011
11/08/11
6:37
AM PT
It's an unusual relationship Steve Sarkisian and Lane Kiffin have.

Not too many opposing head coaches around the country were as closely connected as the two of them were under former USC coach Pete Carroll, and even fewer have continued to stay that way as their coaching trees broadened over the years. Sarkisian served for seven seasons under Carroll, Kiffin six, and they often worked together on the prolific offenses of those days.

UWUSCBut, with the two friends matching up Saturday for the second time as rival head coaches, both men insisted Monday that their shared histories don't play any role in the importance of the upcoming battle between USC and Washington, where Sarkisian is in his third year as the head coach.

"This isn’t about Sarkisian or Kiffin," Kiffin said after the Trojans practiced Monday in preparation for Sarkisian's Huskies. "We want to beat Washington because they beat us. We want to win every game that we play, especially when you feel like you had a game that we could have won.

"You do have a sense from your players that you’d like to get those back because you felt you could have won them with so many opportunities and you have to wait a whole year to have a chance again."

They've had to wait more than a whole year. Kiffin, of course, is referencing the Trojans' 32-31 last-second loss to Washington at the Coliseum last October, when Huskies kicker Erik Folk made a 32-yard field goal as time expired to upset USC for the second straight year.

Thirteen months before that, on the same day that Kiffin's Tennessee Volunteers lost to then-No.1 Florida, Folk made a 22-yarder with seconds left to provide the margin of victory on a 16-13 Washington upset under the Trojans.

So, really, many of the Trojans have been waiting two whole years. But, back to the rivalry -- Kiffin memorably said a year ago that Sarkisian joke-texted him in the week leading up to the game that quarterback Jake Locker had gotten hurt in a freak accident and would miss the contest.

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Robert Woods named Pac-12 player of the week

September, 5, 2011
9/05/11
10:01
AM PT
USC receiver Robert Woods was named Pac-12 player of the week Monday after he put up a school-record 17 catches for 177 yards and three touchdowns in the Trojans' season-opening win over Minnesota on Saturday.

Woods, a sophomore, broke the school's previous record of 15 catches in a game, set by Johnnie Morton in 1993. He did it by accumulating 11 catches in the first half, including all three of his scores, and then added four more in the third quarter to tie the record before breaking it in the fourth period.

Before the 2011 season began, Trojans coach Lane Kiffin said a reasonable goal for Woods this season would be to post a 90-catch season. He had 65 last season as a true freshman and is currently on pace for 204 catches. To reach 90 catches this year, he'd have to average just over 6.5 receptions a game for USC's 11 remaining contests.

USC's Torin Harris was also nominated for Pac-12 defensive player of the week for his game-saving interception in the fourth quarter of Saturday's 19-17 win over Minnesota and left tackle Matt Kalil was nominated for special teams player of this week for his first-quarter block of a kick by the Gophers' Chris Hawthorne.

Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant and kicker Erik Folk were the other conference honorees.

First, first look: Washington

July, 22, 2011
7/22/11
3:52
PM PT
The weeks are counting down until fall camp begins for the USC football team the first week of August. During each of the in-between weeks, we've been offering up an early first look at the 12 scheduled opponents for the 2011 season, in chronological order. We began with Minnesota, Utah and Syracuse, continued the next three weeks with Arizona State, Arizona, and Cal and added Notre Dame, Stanford and Colorado recently. We now present Washington, who the Trojans will play at home on Saturday, Nov. 12:

History: Three Pac-12 teams have beaten USC the last two times they matched up: Stanford, Oregon and Washington.

The Huskies memorably upset the Trojans in September 2009 when then-freshman Matt Barkley missed the game because of a shoulder bruise and Aaron Corp struggled in his place. Then, last October, Washington beat USC on a last-second field goal -- again -- from kicker Erik Folk, taking advantage of a miss by USC's Joe Houston on the previous possession.




Both games were decided on the final play, and both were the Trojans' first losses of their respective seasons. If this game ends up USC's first loss in 2011, the Trojans will have had a super-successful year, but that's beside the point.

Historically, USC leads the series 49-28-4. The last time Washington beat the Trojans three times straight was in 1990-1992. On the topic of streaks, USC has twice defeated the Huskies at least seven times straight, in1965-1974 and 2002-2008. Washington's best run was five consecutive victories in the 1930s.

Offense: Washington was carried by quarterback Jake Locker in last year's game at the Coliseum. Coach (and offensive playcaller) Steve Sarkisian probably won't have that same benefit this season when he turns to true sophomore Keith Price as his starter.

Price, a Bellflower St. John Bosco High product, did well in limited opportunities behind Locker last season but has little starting experience. In eight games in 2010, he threw 37 total passes and completed 19 of them for two touchdowns and no interceptions. Most of those numbers came in his lone start at Oregon in November.

His receiving options are plentiful: senior Jermaine Kearse, a 1,000-yard guy in 2010, is in the conversation as best Pac-12 receiver with Arizona's Juron Criner and USC's Robert Woods. Devin Aguilar, another senior receiver, is a steady talent. Incoming freshman Austin Seferian-Jenkins is gigantic -- 6 feet 6, 250 pounds -- and might start at tight end right away.

But the Huskies' offense will be based around junior running back Chris Polk, a Redlands East Valley High alum who was second in the conference in rushing last season behind Oregon's LaMichael James. He averaged 20 carries a game last year and could get even more in 2011.

The offensive line is middle of the road for the conference, with converted defensive tackle Senio Kelemete the most interesting player as a potential NFL left tackle. Junior center Drew Schaefer started 11 games in 2010.

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Postgame thoughts: Washington

October, 3, 2010
10/03/10
12:00
AM PT
Notes, quotes and video from USC's 32-31 loss to Washington at the Coliseum:
  • Saturday's game was eerily similar to last year's USC-Washington game, when the host Huskies used a final-seconds field goal from Erik Folk to topple the Trojans, 16-13 -- and don't think Washington didn't notice. "It's really important," Folk said after the game of having the experience of last year's game. "I think it was really good for the confidence of our offense on the last drive, knowing that they could drive down the field against these guys. And they did exactly that."
  • Loss aside, the biggest bright spot for the Trojans was clearly the performance of Allen Bradford, who had by far the best game of his career in carrying the ball 21 times for 223 yards and two touchdowns. Bradford's previous career highs were 15 carries for 147 yards against Oregon State last year, but the redshirt senior was at his best Saturday from the start. His first carry of the game was a 37-yard touchdown rumble on which he may not have even been touched, and he averaged more than 10 yards a carry for the game.
  • As a whole, the Trojans' running attack was superb. USC broke out the Wildcat for the first time this season after a lot of work on it during the week of practice leading up to the game. But the player who seems most well-equipped to operate out of it -- freshman Dillon Baxter -- only carried the ball once the entire game, while Tyler received several direct-snap handoffs on his way to running 14 times for 60 yards. No passes were thrown out of the formation.
  • Only five players caught passes for USC, with Robert Woods being shut out. In fact, he was hardly targeted. Barkley completed 70 percent of his passes on the day (14-of-20) but overthrew two key attempts, one to David Ausberry in the end zone and one to Jordan Cameron on USC's last drive of the game. Receiver Brice Butler also appeared to drop a deep ball from Barkley in the first half that would have been good for 40 or 50 yards.
  • Washington quarterback Jake Locker, on what he told his teammates in the huddle on the crucial fourth-and-11 on their own 23-yard line he converted to D'Andre Goodwin: "I said, 'Hey, I love you guys. We've got one more down to continue this drive and get ourselves a chance to win this game.' There wasn't one guy in the huddle who thought we couldn't do it. Looking in every guys' eyes, there was confidence in each and every guy -- and I'm convinced that that's why we were able to win."
  • USC's defense simply could not stop Locker, who threw for 309 yards and a touchdown and ran for 110 more. His only mistake came on Washington's first drive of the second half, when he broke off a big run down the left sideline but had the ball smartly poked away out of his left hand by Shareece Wright. After a review, it was ruled that the ball went out of bounds after going into the endzone, giving USC the ball at its own 20 and essentially taking away a touchdown from the Huskies. Still, Washington gained 536 yards and looked like the better team on the field. "It was really bad, actually," linebacker Michael Morgan said of the defensive performance. "We didn''t execute the way we were supposed to, and we lost the game.
  • A sharp contrast was evident between the two kickers -- Folk and USC's Joe Houston. Folk converted all four of his field goal attempts; Houston made just one of two and hit a 40-yard attempt off the right upright with two-plus minutes to go that would've made the final drive a lot harder for the Huskies. The two kickers, both proteges of famed Chris Sailer Kicking, are good friends, and Folk said that he was disappointed when Houston's kick missed -- despite the fact that it made it easier for his team to win.
  • Tackling was once again an issue for the Trojans, but the team will still stay away from doing so in practice because of depth concerns. "Think about it," cornerback Shareece Wright said. "If we go live every day at practice, we'll be killing each other. It's not worth it."

***

USC coach Lane Kiffin spoke to the media after the game and was clearly displeased with the loss and his team's performance.

See what he said about Locker, the Trojans' tackling and plenty of more topics, including Bradford's 200-yard day:



***

Houston spoke to the media after the game in an emotional session in which he took full responsibility for missing the 40-yarder near the end of the game.

"I feel terrible," he said.

See what else he had to say:

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