By Todd Dybas The News Tribune
SEATTLE — Word is getting out about Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant.
After saying on his radio show Monday that NFL scouts tell him Trufant may be the second-best cornerback in the country, Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian continued to laud him Tuesday.
“I think he’s playing at an extremely high level,” Sarkisian said of the senior cornerback from Tacoma. “Desmond’s always been a fantastic player. One of the challenges for him was to transfer everything he’d do in practice, to bring it to the game and do it with confidence. He’s doing that this year.”
Sarkisian isn’t the only one noticing. When opposing coaches talk about the challenges Washington’s defense presents, Trufant’s name always comes up. Oregon head coach Chip Kelly mentioned Trufant prior to the game last week. Stanford coach David Shaw said on Tuesday’s Pac-12 conference call that, “Trufant’s one of the best in the nation.”
He’s showed it with big and solid play. His interception late in the fourth quarter against Stanford when isolated against 6-foot-8 tight end Levine Toilolo all but sealed that game for Washington. His deflection on Oregon’s opening drive last week led to Shaq Thompson’s interception.
Trufant is ninth on the team in tackles. He’s tied for first in tackles for loss with Thompson. He’s one of six Huskies with a sack and one of five Huskies with an interception. He’s the only Washington player with a tackle for loss, sack and interception.
He’ll be tested this week by USC wide receivers Marqise Lee and Robert Woods. Lee leads the conference in receptions per game and Woods is tied for seventh.
One that got away
Former Lakes High School star Zach Banner broke a lot of hearts around Seattle when he chose USC over the Huskies. He’s a redshirt freshman offensive lineman this season for the Trojans. The fact that USC can redshirt the 6-foot-9, 355-pound Banner speaks to their offensive line depth, something Washington woefully lacks after a trio of injuries.
Banner saw time at right tackle in fall camp for the Trojans. He will be making the trip to Seattle this weekend as part of USC’s traveling group. He had an interested visitor at practice Monday, his father, former NFL Pro-Bowler Lincoln Kennedy.
“We made a decision to redshirt Zach and he’s doing a great job academically for us and on the field,” USC head coach Lane Kiffin said. “Lincoln was here at practice yesterday, watching him, which was good to have. Weird to have a Husky on our field Husky week, but we’re excited about (Zach).”
As Washington would have been.
It wasn’t pretty
Looking back at the Oregon loss, defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox preached putting it behind them.
“There’s just no time to sit and lick your wounds,” Wilcox said. “Win or lose, you’ve got to move on.”
He explained there was a litany of issues in the 52-21 loss.
“We didn’t play near well enough to play a team like that,” Wilcox said. “We had missed tackles that resulted in big plays. We had five 15-yard penalties. We had three critical coverage busts. And, there were plays that we got beat.
“Against a good team like that, you can’t make those kinds of mistakes. We have to do a great job and going back and looking at the things we’ve got to fix, taking the good with the bad and moving on to next week. That’s key, no matter win or lose.”
Old friends together again
Kiffin and Sarkisian were on staff together at USC for five years. They still talk often. Kiffin said Tuesday that, even though they are now in the same conference running their own programs, their conversations haven’t been reduced a great deal.
“A little bit, but not as much as you think,” Kiffin said. “We do discuss other teams sometimes, and stadiums or different things like that. Obviously this week, that slows down.”