After two months of struggling to find his place in USC's defensive end rotation, Griffen found his footing against Oregon State. He just had to trust his feet to do it.
Griffen led USC's defensive effort in Saturday's 24-3 victory over Oregon State with six tackles and 3.5 sacks to earn Rivals.com National Freshman of the Week honors.
"Instead of trying to running through guys, I needed to run around them just like coaches said," said Griffen, who talks a mile-a-minute even immediately after a Monday practice. "I finally ran around people. They've been telling me all year."
Griffen, from the Phoenix suburb of Agua Fria and the sixth-ranked player in the class of 2007, had been a part-time player and contributed seven tackles and 0.5 sacks in seven games.
That changed against an Oregon State team that has struggled to protect the quarterback. USC had a season-high nine sacks against the Beavers, and Griffen's 3.5 were the most for a Trojan since Tim Ryan had four against UCLA in 1989.
While the rest of the Trojans piled the pressure on Oregon State quarterback Sean Canfield, Griffen's performance might have been the most valuable.
With USC leading 10-3 in the second quarter, the Beavers started a possession at their 17. On first down, Griffen sacked Canfield for a loss of 4 yards. He did the same on third down for a loss of 5.
After Oregon State's three-and-out, USC used the good field position on the ensuing possession to take a 17-3 lead.
Griffen added another momentum-suffocating sack in the third quarter immediately following a 19-yard gain.
"He was running into guys (in previous weeks)," USC defensive end Lawrence Jackson told USCFootball.com. "But with that kind of speed, you don't have to run into anybody; you just go around them. He did that, and it showed up."
That's what Griffen had been told for weeks, but he didn't take it to heart on the field until recently. Though he had earned a spot alongside veteran ends Jackson and Kyle Moore and tackles Sedrick Ellis and Fili Moala as a true freshman, Griffen had yet to play to his potential.
"It was a little frustrating, but I knew it would take time," Griffen said. "They told me the past couple of weeks that I'm maturing better, and whenever coaches put you in, make the best of it. Be patient and play your role."
As Griffen is learning, his role is to speed past unsuspecting offensive tackles.
OTHER NOMINEES FOR FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK:
QB Colin Kaepernick, Nevada
With the Wolf Pack involved in another shootout, Kaepernick helped them emerge with a win. He accounted for five touchdowns, including a TD pass in the final minute of a 40-38 victory. Kaepernick, a redshirt freshman, passed for 237 yards and ran for 136 in the win.
TB Knowshon Moreno, Georgia
The redshirt freshman became Georgia's first 1,000-yard running back since Musa Smith in 2002 by rushing for 196 yards and three touchdowns in a 44-34 win over Troy.
RB Aaron Crawford, Texas Tech Michael Crabtree isn't the only productive freshman for Texas Tech. The true freshman caught 10 passes for 82 yards and two touchdowns while running for 44 yards and two scores in a 38-7 win over Baylor.
TB LeSean McCoy, Pittsburgh
McCoy became the third Pittsburgh freshman to rush for 1,000 yards joining Tony Dorsett (1973) and Curvin Richards (1988). He ran for 140 yards and the go-ahead touchdown in a 20-17 win over Syracuse.
The Hog truly ran wild out of the "Wild Hog" formation.
McFadden continued to put his name alongside some of the greatest running backs in SEC history with a landmark performance against South Carolina. In a 48-36 win, McFadden tied the SEC single-game rushing record with 321 yards, a record set by Vanderbilt's Frank Mordica in 1978. McFadden's day included an 80-yard touchdown run and a 24-yard touchdown pass.
In the process, he became one of only two SEC backs to top 1,000 yards in each of his first three seasons. The other was Georgia's Herschel Walker.
QB Todd Reesing, Kansas
He helped the Jayhawks take out 40 years of frustration on Nebraska, throwing a school-record six touchdown passes in a 76-39 win. He was 30-of-41 for 354 yards.
TB Chris Wells, Ohio State
Wells rushed for 168 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-tying and go-ahead scores in a 38-17 win over Wisconsin
QB Dennis Dixon, Oregon
Oregon boosted its national-championship credentials by knocking off undefeated Arizona State behind four touchdown passes from Dixon. He was 13 of 22 for 189 yards. He also ran for 57 yards.
QB Chase Daniel, Missouri
Daniel continued to strengthen his Heisman credentials by going 26 of 44 for 421 yards and five touchdowns in a 55-10 win over Colorado.