Bax­ter is on Washington’s radar

Los Angeles Times - - College Football - Gary Klein gary.klein@latimes.com twit­ter.com/la­timesklein

Marc Tyler had his mo­ments as USC’s fea­tured run­ning back.

So have Allen Brad­ford and Stan­ley Hav­ili.

But this could be the week that USC Coach Lane

Kif­fin truly un­veils fresh­man Dil­lon Bax­ter.

At least, Washington Coach Steve Sark­isian the­o­rized as much Mon­day.

With an open date last week, Sark­isian and his staff watched as the Tro­jans opened with a no-hud­dle of­fense, put the ball in Hav­ili’s hands and con­tin­ued to shift for­ma­tions on con­ver­sion at­tempts dur­ing a rout of Washington State.

“We’ve got to con­tin­u­ally be pre­pared for the un­ex­pected,” Sark­isian said about Satur­day’s matchup with the Tro­jans.

Then, with­out prompt­ing, Sark­isian in­voked Bax­ter, who played quar­ter­back, run­ning back and re­ceiver at San Diego Mis­sion Bay High and had a hand in 79 touch­downs as a se­nior.

“They ran a lot of the Wild­cat stuff when he was down there,” Sark­isian said, “so we’ve got to be pre­pared for that as well be­cause we know he has the ca­pa­bil­ity of do­ing that.”

Bax­ter was sus­pended for USC’s opener at Hawaii and played a limited role in vic­to­ries against Vir­ginia and Min­nesota.

Against Washington State, he car­ried a teamhigh 14 times for 75 yards.

“I feel like I’m get­ting in a lit­tle groove and start­ing to get used to things, the whole dif­fer­ence in speed,” said Bax­ter, who has 148 yards in 30 car­ries and five re­cep­tions. “I just want to get into space and do what I do.”

New matchup

USC quar­ter­back Matt

Barkley did not play against Washington last sea­son be­cause of a shoul­der in­jury.

The Huskies, in a 16-13 vic­tory at Seat­tle, cap­i­tal­ized on fum­bles, Aaron

Corp’s strug­gles and USC’s con­ser­va­tive play-call­ing.

Barkley has 12 touch­down passes — more than any other player in the Foot­ball Bowl Sub­di­vi­sion — but had two passes in­ter­cepted in each of the last two games.

Nev­er­the­less, Sark­isian said Barkley was play­ing “at a very high level” and ben­e­fit­ting from the Tro­jans’ rush­ing at­tack, its ef­fec­tive­ness cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for big plays off play­ac­tion fakes.

“It’s go­ing to be one of our keys and chal­lenges to not let him be so com­fort­able in the pocket, be­cause when he’s com­fort­able, he’s deadly,” Sark­isian said.

Missed op­por­tu­nity

Kicker Joe Hous­ton is one of four on field-goal tries af­ter missing from 39 yards against Washington State.

Hous­ton made a 34-yard try against Vir­ginia, but missed from 47 yards against the Cava­liers and from 48 yards against Min­nesota.

“It hurts,” he said af­ter the Washington State game. “If I have to help my team in a close game, that might be the dif­fer­ence.”

Kif­fin said he had no plans to re­place the fifthyear se­nior.

“He’s still kick­ing the ball well,” he said. “He just has to be more ac­cu­rate.”

Har­ris con­tribut­ing

De­fen­sive line­man Da

John Har­ris started at tackle for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive game and pro­duced one of the Tro­jans’ three sacks against Washington State.

Har­ris has bounced back af­ter play­ing be­low ex­pec­ta­tions in the opener at Hawaii. His nine tack­les this sea­son in­clude two sacks.

“I feel like I’ve turned it around,” he said. “I’m do­ing much bet­ter, but I haven’t reached my full po­ten­tial yet.”

USC re­sumes prac­tice Tues­day af­ter tak­ing Mon­day off.

Wally Skalij

JUST IN CASE: Washington’s Steve Sark­isian says USC might turn loose fresh­man run­ning back Dil­lon Bax­ter, above, on Satur­day, so he is pre­par­ing for it.

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