The USC Trojans did not like the way their defense played in 2012. That prompted a change in defensive coordinators and a new philosophy for 2013. Gone is the Trojans’ old 4-3 base defense as Clancy Pendergrast implements his modified 3-4 alignment. Part of this transition has been moving some players around, such as senior Morgan Breslin who will make the switch from defensive end to outside linebacker next season. That change could unleash Breslin for a monster season.
That isn’t to say that Breslin wasn’t a success on the defensive line. Last season, the talented rush end led the team with 13 sacks and finished the year with a total of 62 tackles, including 19.5 for loss. At 6-foot-2, 250-pounds, Breslin was a big undersized as a defensive end, however. He was consistently having to battle with larger offensive tackles to make plays in the backfield, which he was still able to do thanks to his speed and athleticism.
Moving Breslin back into a two-point stance as an outside linebacker will make it easier for the senior to use that speed and athleticism to wreak havoc off the edge. He won’t be going toe-to-toe with a tackle or guard on every play and will dominate those instances when a tight end or running back tries to handle him in pass protection. Standing up at linebacker also allows Breslin to be moved around the formation more often, giving him different angles from which to attack the line of scrimmage and find his way into the backfield.
While Breslin was very good as a defensive end, he has the opportunity to be truly great at outside linebacker. Can he help hold the Trojans’ defense together through Pac 12 play?