LOS ANGELES – Daquawn Brown might find out here, in the city where he grew up, just how much growing up he has done as a college football player almost two games into his career.
Brown’s collegiate debut came last week at Auburn, when he stepped in at cornerback after fifth-year seniors Nolan Washington and Anthony Carpenter each left the game with apparent injuries.
Neither practiced this week, leading to the logical conclusion that Brown, a 5-foot-11, 170-pound Los Angeles native and alum of famed Dorsey High School, might be about to make his first career start under the lights of Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum at 7:30 Saturday night against the University of Southern California.
To understand Brown’s style of play, listen to his teammates talk about him when asked how he might react if lined up against
All-America USC receiver Marqise Lee. There’s no guarantee those two will line up against each other, but that didn’t stop linebackers Darryl Monroe and Justin Sagote from speculating about such a matchup when the question was posed.
“He’s going to give you guys a show,” Monroe said. “I’m taking Daquawn any day of the week. I’m expecting him to put on a show for you guys. I expect some frustration on Marqise Lee’s part because (Brown is) going to be in his face the whole game and he’s not going to stop. I feel bad for that guy if Daquawn’s lined up against him.”
Added the soft-spoken Sagote: “I would also feel bad for Marqise Lee. (Brown is) a fun guy to watch. The thing I see about him, he doesn’t fear anybody. He doesn’t care who he lines up against. He’ll go against anybody. That’s what I like about him.”
Fighting words? Probably not. What is likely meant by “feel bad for that guy” is that Lee – or any USC receiver – could catch a few passes and rack up a few yards and still leave the game wishing Brown hadn’t been involved. He’s demonstrative, almost always chirping and offering the celebratory flapping of his arms to signal “incomplete” whenever he breaks up a pass. He talks, he talks, and he talks, and has a pestering way about him that has earned the respect of his teammates.
Brown wasn’t made available to the media this week to discuss the possibility of making his first career start against a storied Pacific-12 Conference team in his hometown, but said early in camp that, “I thrive off my confidence during every play.”
Defensive coordinator Mike Breske has said more than once that Brown needs to polish his technique – standard protocol for a freshman – but that his attitude can only help him.
“He’s not going to back down from anyone. He’s just got to refine his technique,” Breske said. “And that’s just going to come from reps and reps and reps.”
Said coach Mike Leach: “Daquawn Brown is not afraid of anything. He’s really excited to play, thinks he should play every snap, and just loves the challenge of competition. He’s going to be a really good player.
“For the time being we just need to improve him and see where he stacks up, and see whether he ought to start or whether he ought to play a significant role coming in behind a starter.”
Another freshman, safety Isaac Dotson from Bellevue’s Newport High, is also expected to play Saturday on either special teams or defense. If he does, he would become the third true freshman to play for the Cougars this season. The other is receiver River Cracraft.
WASHINGTON STATE AT NO. 25 USC
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
TV: Fox Sports 1. Radio: 770-FM.
Line: USC by 151/2.
KEYS TO THE GAME FOR WSU
Make USC’s quarterbacks throw the ball: Neither Cody Kessler nor Max Wittek did anything in the Trojans’ season-opening win over Hawaii to inspire thoughts that either of those guys is “the” guy. And after Auburn rushed for 297 yards against WSU last week, it stands to reason that USC might try to do the same. The Cougars have to make one of USC’s unproven quarterbacks beat them by containing the Trojans’ ground game, even if Silas Redd is back in the lineup.
Make better decisions: Connor Halliday did a lot of things right in last week’s loss to Auburn – probably a lot more than fans want to credit him for. But he also made some undeniably poor decisions, the kind of decisions USC’s young but talented secondary will capitalize on if given the chance. WSU’s offense looked good enough to score points when it has to. But it will go as Halliday goes.
No special-teams gaffes: One kick return allowed for a touchdown is one too many to give up in a season. WSU already met that quota by allowing a 100-yard return for a score to Auburn’s Tre Mason last week. And this week, the ultra-elusive Marqise Lee will be returning kicks and punts for the Trojans. Containing him – and anyone else USC puts back there – will be paramount.
Force turnovers: Auburn’s lone turnover last week came when Mason coughed up the ball late in the game near midfield. Meanwhile, the Cougars gave it away three times. The defense needs to get the ball out of USC’s hands whenever possible to give Halliday and the offense a chance to keep slinging it.Christian Caple, The Spokesman-Review