November 12, 2007

Insider: Chauncey benefits from history lesson

When Pete Carroll told Chauncey Washington he needed to run harder, it had nothing to do with effort. The coach wanted to see his senior charging into the line the scrimmage and blasting through defenders.

"I wanted him to be a guy that was obviously running hard," Carroll said.

So the coach talked history with his fifth-year senior.

"He gave me a speech about the guys of the past," Washington said of Carroll's early-season lecture. "He was talking about how (Justin) Fargas came in and changed the Trojans by running so hard."

Fargas' lone season, 2002, saw USC land its first of five-straight BCS berths, a 38-17 victory against Iowa in the Orange Bowl.

Washington had spent much of this season side-stepping behind the offensive line, upon receiving handoffs. The past two weeks, that approach has all but disappeared. He ran his way to Pac-10 offensive player of the week honors Saturday, with a career-best 220 yards in the rain at California.

Before speaking with Washington several weeks ago, Carroll had seen freshman Joe McKnight working his way into the tailback mix. McKnight provided elusiveness; sophomore Stafon Johnson presented an all-around threat. The coach thought his team needed a heavy hitter, and he wanted it to be his starting senior. However, as Carroll notes, Washington dropped about 20 pounds - to the 213-215 range - from last season to do his most authoritative running.

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