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Originally published September 27, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified September 27, 2007 at 2:05 AM

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UW Football Notebook | Carroll was key to Mays leaving

The notion that USC's secondary could be the Trojans' weakness, if there is one, turned Washington offensive coordinator Tim Lappano incredulous...

Seattle Times staff reporter

The notion that USC's secondary could be the Trojans' weakness, if there is one, turned Washington offensive coordinator Tim Lappano incredulous.

"Taylor Mays is a weakness?" Lappano asked.

Point taken.

Mays, the former O'Dea High star who is now a sophomore safety at USC, is being considered a high first-round pick for the 2009 NFL draft largely because NCAA rules forbid him from coming out in time for 2008.

"He looked like they do on Sunday when we recruited him [in 2005]," said Lappano, who spent the 2003 and 2004 seasons as an assistant with the San Francisco 49ers. "When he walked into this place two years ago and they said he was in high school — we didn't have guys with the 49ers who looked like that."

All those attributes will be on display Saturday when the Trojans take on UW at Husky Stadium, the first game for Mays at home as a college player.

It's far from his first visits to Husky Stadium. He attended many games as a child with his father, Stafford Mays, who played at UW in 1978-79.

Mays said Tuesday, "I think I went to every home game" from the time he was about 5 to about 12, attending with his father.

But that familiarity went only so far when the Huskies came calling for his services.

"Obviously I respect coach [Tyrone] Willingham a lot and I liked what he did and his coaching philosophy," Mays said. "I think the difference was coach [Pete] Carroll, just his enthusiasm and how loud he is and wild he is all the time. I just felt I could relate to that a little better. And it was fun for me to be down here in this environment, and I knew going with him and understanding his [Carroll's] philosophy that that would give me a chance to be the best player I could be."

Carroll also says the 6-foot-4 Mays is the fastest player on the team — he ran a 4.25 40-yard dash last spring when he weighed 239 pounds.

He's down to about 229, having dropped some weight to help his lateral quickness, though he appears to be relishing the prospect of some home cooking this weekend more than anything else.

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"It's nice to be able to come home and be able to play in a stadium I'm very familiar with,"said Mays, third on the team in tackles with 14. "I live five minutes from campus. I'm kind of excited to come home and be in Seattle, to get out of Los Angeles."

UCLA redux

A review of the film of the UCLA game didn't leave UW defensive coordinator Kent Baer any happier than he was after the game. But it did at least leave him encouraged that the team can play better. Baer said he thought the breakdowns that led to UCLA's 44 points and 537 yards — 333 on the ground — are correctable, many due to blown assignments.

"Where we didn't play well the other day was really simple things that had never shown up before," Baer said. "But you cannot give up five plays over 23 yards and win a football game."

Note

• Coaches said they expect LB E.J. Savannah to play Saturday. He wore red in practice Tuesday as a precaution after suffering a recurrence of stingers against UCLA. But after beginning practice in red Wednesday he took it off and appeared ready to join full-scale work.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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