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COLLEGE FOOTBALL / 1996

Huskies' Dillon Does a Job on USC

Huskies: Bruising tailback grinds out 128 yards and two scores in school-record 37 carries.

November 03, 1996|ARA NAJARIAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

When Washington running back Corey Dillon emerged from the locker room, he was asked what he wanted to do about the crowd of people waiting for him.

"I just want some open space and [want to] get going," Dillon said.

He said it after the game, but it applied on the field as well.

Every time a crowd of USC defenders was waiting for him, he found some open space and got going.

Dillon carried a school-record 37 times for 128 yards and two touchdowns in powering the Huskies' 21-10 victory at the Coliseum Saturday.

The record he broke was his own--he had 36 carries in his first start against Stanford.

Just part of a day's work, to hear him say it.

"USC did a good job the whole game," Dillon said. "But I just go out there and do my job. I don't count how many times I carry the ball. I'm here to do my job very well."

That's enough jobs in one sound bite to make a presidential candidate smile. Like many people, Dillon is mostly concerned with his own job.

And he is doing it very well.

Not bad for a guy who got barely two inches of type in his school's press guide.

"He's one of the best backs I've played against," USC lineman Matt Keneley said. "He's a big, powerful back. You try to hit him high and get others in on the tackle too--but when you hit him, he's going to fall forward."

Dillon was hit, but time and again he went forward. His long run of 22 yards was typical: Dillon headed straight into the line to try to get four yards. However, he broke a tackle, broke left toward the sideline and had to be forced out of bounds to be stopped.

A junior college transfer from Dixie College in Utah, Dillon was the second-string back before the season started. But injuries to junior tailback Rashaan Shehee thrust him into the lineup.

Now Dillon has 1,035 yards although he has started only five games.

"I'm not ready to put him in the same category as some of the people who have played on this field," Washington Coach Jim Lambright said. "But he's making himself a great first-year back. You have to sustain it over two years to be considered with some of the players who have been here--but he's taking his place in our record book."

Thirty-seven carries is the only record so far. But the 1,000-yard mark puts him in the company of such players as Napoleon Kaufman and Greg Lewis. With three games and a bowl game left, he is within range of Kaufman's school-record 1,390 yards in 1994.

With his two touchdowns against USC, he is also within one of Shehee's season mark of 15 touchdowns.

"I don't get high on stats," Dillon said. "If they give me the ball 37 times, I'm going to try to do something with the ball 37 times."

Lambright acknowledges that there is nothing fancy about the Washington offense. It's not pitch right and pitch left as some might remember in Los Angeles, but it is effective in that it is designed to pound away at the line and wear down the opponent.

The passing game? What passing game? With Washington quarterback Brock Huard completing 12 of 29 for 133 yards and a touchdown, Lambright didn't feel there was much to say about it.

"The best thing we were doing for our passing game was giving the ball to No. 4 [Dillon]," Lambright said.

Even then, he doesn't ask No. 4 to do too much. The running backs are expected to try to get from point A to point B.

Saturday, Dillon took the whole alphabet.

Dillon said he doesn't look for breakaway runs.

"I'm just trying to get the four, man. . . . Get the ugly four. That's it."

Dillon didn't quite get his four a carry, averaging 3.5 for his 37 tries.

But it was ugly enough for USC.

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