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Receiving unit steps up for USC

USC’s Tori Gurley makes a one-handed catch in front of Vanderbilt’s Myron Lewis on Saturday.
USC’s Tori Gurley makes a one-handed catch in front of Vanderbilt’s Myron Lewis on Saturday.

Alshon Jeffery continues to cement his status as an emerging star.

But there was plenty more big plays Saturday for USC's receiving corps.

Tori Gurley, seemingly forgotten after a fast start to the season, had one of the biggest plays of the game. So what if the play wasn't called for him.

D.L. Moore, who entered the game with three career catches, had a long touchdown reception.

It was a much-needed performance from an offensive unit that was without senior receiver Moe Brown (concussion) and tight end Weslye Saunders (ankle).

"That's good for us," quarterback Stephen Garcia said. "We needed the receivers to step up."

Jeffery led the way, catching eight passes for 161 yards, including the game-winning touchdown.

Appropriately, when Jeffery came off the field after the score, the first player to meet him was Gurley. They jumped into each other for what Steve Spurrier has called a "butt-bump."

Gurley began the season as the starter and had some big games. But he lost his spot to Jeffery, who has grabbed the go-to receiver role.

"As a competitor, you want to go out and make plays. But Alshon has been doing a great job," Gurley said. "To be honest with you, he's just raising the level of intensity. As long as he's going out and making catches like that, with us being very competitive as a receiving corps, we all want to go out and double that."

Gurley's moment came earlier on the drive, when he caught a 43-yard pass after USC had been pinned at its 1.

The play had been called for Jeffery, but it was Gurley who was on the field

"When coach found out I was in, I heard he wasn't too happy about it," Gurley said. "But after the catch was made, me and him were best friends again.

"I'm just happy I had a chance to make a play for the team."

Gurley said the team is working on packages in which he and Jeffery are on the field at the same time. For the moment, however, they play the same spot, leaving the two tall, athletic receivers to alternate.

The 6-foot-3 Moore offers the team another tall option. He mostly plays the third receiver spot but was targeted several times Saturday night.

He almost blew a chance in the second quarter when Garcia hit him in stride down the right sideline. But after a couple of bobbles -- and a fortuitous replay review -- Moore had his first career touchdown.

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