When Morgan Breslin signed with the Trojans last December, he was an after thought compared to fellow JuCo transfer Gerald Bowman. After an injury to Devon Kennard paved the way to a battle for a starting job at defensive end in fall camp, J.R. Tavai got the rave reviews. Four weeks into the season however, it’s Breslin that’s become the unsung hero and fan favorite on the USC defense, as well as an easy front-runner in the race for All-Pac-12 honors at defensive end.
Breslin is just doing what defensive linemen who plan on having long careers on Sundays do: make plays and get to the quarterback.
And quite simply, Breslin just keeps getting better and has started to force the creation of his own highlight reels. He was impressive against Hawaii as a newcomer, forced a Dion Bailey interception against Syracuse, snuffed out a reverse against Stanford and touched Zach Maynard more than your average Berkeley sorority girl on Saturday.
His incredible performance against Cal saw Breslin get credited with three sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss, giving him five sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss on the young season. He was in Maynard’s face all afternoon, and when he wasn’t adding a tackle to his tally, he was forcing the wiry quarterback to move in the pocket and fall into the arms of other defensive linemen like Wes Horton, George Uko and Leonard Williams.
Going into the season, the defensive line was supposed to be the Trojans’ biggest weakness. Breslin’s more than done his part to make sure they’re doing all they can to grab headlines for the right reasons, making a season-ending injury to Kennard less impactful with each week, and that’s not at all a slight at the talented defensive end that was robbed of his senior season.
Add in the fact that Breslin essentially takes over for Nick Perry, and it makes you wonder if there is a drop off at all, or if it’s a gain for Ed Orgeron’s line. Perry led the Trojans with sacks last year with a total of 9.5, a number that Breslin should pass before the start of November. Plus, Breslin’s ability to play the run in addition to being strictly a bull rusher gives him versatility that Perry didn’t always exhibit on a consistent basis.
And the good thing for the Trojans, is that Breslin’s play is just one of the highlights on the defensive line. While Breslin is on pace for 15 sacks by himself this season, challenging Kenechi Udeze’s recent high of 16.5 in 2003, the Trojans as a whole have 14 sacks through four weeks, good for a pace of 42 in the regular season, the most since 2007.
This may not be Wild Bunch III for USC, but Breslin is sure going to do all he can to rival the likes of Lawrence Jackson and the aforementioned Udeze as great defensive ends for the Trojans in recent memory.