Salvon Ahmed returned to the Huskies starting lineup Saturday afternoon and rushed for a career-high 153 yards to lead the 17th ranked University of Washington Huskies to a 28-14 win over the 20th ranked Southern California Trojans. Ahmed missed last week’s win at BYU with a knee injury. Ahmed reeled off an 89-yard third-quarter run that gave the Huskies a lead they never relinquished. The game-winning run came after an Elijah Molden interception of USC quarterback Matt Fink who was starting his first game of the season for the Trojans.
The Husky defense intercepted Fink three times and two of the three-interceptions were converted to two touchdowns. The Husky defense shutdown down USC’s dynamic passing game holding USC wideout Michael Pittman Jr to just four receptions for 64 yards and one touchdown. Blown coverage by the Husky defense in the third quarter saw Pittman catch a 44-yard touchdown pass but that was the only damage the Pac-12’s leading receiver was able to inflict on a Husky defense that continues to improve each week.
Washington Head Coach Chris PetersenOpening Statement:
Really good team win. We faced a high-level team. I am extremely proud of our defense, those guys played at a high level. We did just enough to keep them off balance. We had some really good turnovers in that area. They did a good job of huddling the ball, they mixed it up well. Our special teams were very solid.
Our protections on the PAT, punt, and field goal were really good, that was awesome. Our offense played well, there were a couple of times we sputtered, but we will continue to get better.
How important was Elijah Molden’s interception?
That was game changing. That saved us. That was a 14-point swing. He picked it off and two plays later, Salvon Ahmed goes the distance. That was the sequence of the game. It was game changing for sure.
How advanced is your defense in terms of the variety of calls?
I think they do a nice job of keeping enough on their menu to keep teams off balance and not coversaturate our kids with too many things. They did a nice job of scouting USC. On the sideline hey were aware of what was coming. We weren’t always on it, on the field, but our staff were on it. Our guys will learn from that. USC hit us with some big runs. I was not fitting the runs correctly, I missed a few tackles. But all of that is learnable, teachable things.
What did you see out of Salvon Ahmed today?
The one run made it a career day. That was a game changer. To be able to get an 80-plus yard play in the run game – that doesn’t happen too often. When you have explosives in the run game (that) go for touchdowns, that is what you want to do.
What went wrong on the trick-play fumble?
They blitzed us. We wanted to be aggressive in that situation, we may have been a little too aggressive. That is on me. We really felt like we wanted to go after them and score. We probably had three or four things at our fingers. USC did a nice job penetrating us and we just didn’t execute in getting it around the corner.
How much faith is there in the younger secondary?
They do a good job. Trent Mcduffie is a true warrior. He plays at a high level. I think it is
awesome what Cam Williams is doing back there, we are starting to get a feel of what we want from him out there. We play our safety deep so that he can roam and pick off passes. Now we are starting to see him get his hands on some things. He will continue to flourish in that role.
Is the confidence growing in the younger guys?
I think every game they are getting more confident, especially when they play hard teams and talented guys. There are so many things that happen to us and I think ‘okay we are going to get
How much confidence do you have in your top two tight ends right now?
They are doing a nice job. Cade Otton is stout and hungry. He has picked up his blocking
performance. Both of them are starting to get into the pass game, we know with Hunter Bryant, that is kind of his thing. Bryant has upped his blocking and Otton has upped his receiving. We can stay in that personnel but try a bunch of different formations.
How hard is it to keep your guys’ head’s in the game and not get chippy with the other team?
It is obviously harder than you think it would be. We will take a good look at that. That is just taking the bait. That is just hurting the team and cutting our own throat. It is a game, don’t take the bait. We have to play right to the edge and not cross over the line. That message never changes. We have to play with an edge, but we can’t cross the line.
How critical was it for you to get your first Pac-12 win?
It is important. I honestly don’t think of it like that. Every game is critically important to us. We just think ‘who is our next game?’ Even those first games that we played feel equally important as anything we are doing in the league. I think there were some good players on that other side, and they have a good team, so it was good to get this win. I am glad that we had it at home. I thought the crowd was really good.
DB Elijah Molden
Did you feel like you blacked out after that big interception?
Yeah, we kind of joke about that sometimes. Like after someone makes a big play you just blackout a little bit. You can’t really explain it. It happens so fast.
Does it get in your head when you’re trying to get that first interception?
Yeah, I just kept telling myself that it was coming. Especially after a game like BYU where I had a ton of targets and a ton of opportunities. I mean, I had a feeling that this game was going to be he one and luckily it was.
Has Jimmy Lake been getting on you a little bit to get that first pick?
Yeah, he was at the beginning of the week. Now, Keith (Taylor) is going to be the main target now.
RB Salvon Ahmed
What was it like leading the charge against USC today?
I mean USC is obviously a really athletic team, a really good team, and we knew we were going to have to run the ball against them and as we saw last week everyone in that room can contribute to the run game. So when anyone gets in there, they get a chance, they make plays.
Sean makes plays. Richard makes a lot plays. We know that offensive line is going to block for us and we’ve just got to make things happen. I couldn’t be happier to see all my guys out there
What did you see when you took that handoff on the big run?
I just saw a backside hole with one guy in there. I just tried to make him miss and try to go.v When I was finishing the run I looked up at the screen there was a guy kind of close behind me so I had to kind of turn it around. Yeah, I mean, the offensive line created a hole on the backside and I made the play.
Were you surprised when you almost got caught on the run?
Man, I looked up at the screen and that saw that dude kind of getting close behind me and I had to give him a little detour.