There were few positives about the USC Trojans’ historically poor performance in this weekend’s 10-7 loss to Washington State, but one of the highlights was the defensive play of preseason All-American Morgan Breslin.
Through two games, Clancy Pendergast’s defense has kept the Trojans in the game. (Yes, the USC Trojans needed to rely on the defense to stay close in games against Hawaii and WSU.) Breslin was one of the stars on last year’s struggling defense, and his return against the Cougars gave the Trojans a boost, albeit on the unit that needed it the least.
A defensive end last season, the junior college transfer led the team with 13 sacks and was a finalist for the Hendricks Award. He was limited during camp with an unspecified foot/ankle injury and did not play in the opener at Hawaii.
After missing the first game but Breslin, now an outside linebacker in Pendergast’s new 52 defense, returned to action against the Cougars without missing a beat, sacking Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday twice for a loss of 16 yards.
Breslin had big plays back-to-back on a key defensive series in the first half, tackling Teondray Caldwell for a loss (negated by penalty) and sacking Halliday on the following play. On the very next snap, George Uko sacked Halliday again, causing a fumble that USC recovered. The Trojans’ ensuing possession resulted in USC’s only score of the night.
Breslin earned his second sack of the season late in the fourth quarter, with the game tied, 7-7. With Washington State facing a 3rd down and 10, Breslin dropped Halliday for a loss of another eight yards, forcing the Cougars to punt and give USC the ball back — not that the offense could figure out what to do with it.
After the game, USC head coach Lane Kiffin acknowledged the defense’s solid effort in Breslin’s return. “We thought that our front, especially with Morgan coming back, would give [WSU] a lot of issues and that was the case,” he said.
Unfortunately, Kiffin’s offense had even more issues. The USC defense didn’t allow the Cougars to score a touchdown, but despite the defense’s colossal efforts, USC managed to lose at home to Washington State for the first time since 2000.
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