Mailbag Monday: Preparing for Utah, Morgan Breslin and Barkley's Heisman

We’ve been fielding your questions for our Mailbag Monday feature, so let’s celebrate the start of the work week by getting right into your questions on the USC Trojans.

First things first, toast is the food of the Gods. Sourdough and butter makes the world go around. As for the Utes, the key really has to be controlling the line of scrimmage. Utah has a front seven that is every bit as good as Stanford’s, with Star Lotulelei setting the tone there in the middle. Even though they got it handed to them in Tempe on Saturday, they only gave up 140 yards on the ground, which is more than they’d like, but not as bad as it could have been, given the score. Lane Kiffin gave the Utes plenty of vanilla running game footage on film for Kyle Whittingham and company to look at, and the Men of Troy will have to establish the run if they have any hopes of controlling the game like they did against Cal. That said, the Utah secondary is weak and this could be a great week for the passing game to get back in order.

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He has to be. When Devon Kennard went down, there was panic on the defensive line, because there wasn’t a natural option to replace him that had experience at the NCAA level. Ed Orgeron and the Kiffins really switched things up, moving Leonard Williams inside and J.R. Tavai outside, which was surprising because it was clear-cut reactionary move given the lack of depth. It’s worked for Williams though, but only because of how good Morgan Breslin has been at the end, beating out Tavai. He leads the nation in tackles for loss, and right now he’s got to be All-Pac-12 with an argument to make some sort of noise at the All-American level if he can keep this up. Mind you it’s only been four games, but if you had to draw it up, this is exactly what you would want from him, and then some. He’s out producing a healthy Kennard and Wes Horton, and that says a lot.

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It may appear that way, but not at all. Geno Smith is probably the front runner right now with how well he’s playing, but Barkley still has to play Utah, Oregon and Notre Dame on national television, plus big games at Washington and UCLA that would be marquee Pac-12 games. He’s thrown five picks, but he still is tied for the lead in touchdowns and if he can have another career game or two in big spots down the stretch, he’ll be right there in the thick of things. Truth be told, Barkley’s popularity makes it harder for him to lose traction than anyone else, given the hype around him. Andrew Luck was beaten last year by Robert Griffin III, plus he didn’t beat Oregon. Barkley has more opportunities to gain votes than Luck did, but he’ll still have to hold off Smith and David Ash and whoever else you might want to throw in that discussion.

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