As an under the radar prospect when he joined USC, 2013 served as another example of how valuable J.R. Tavai is to the Trojans.
With the injury to Morgan Breslin, Tavai stepped in to help fill the void left by the Trojans’ 2012 leader in sacks.
By the numbers: 56 tackles, eight tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks.
What went right: Tavai significantly increased his production in 2013 compared to 2012.
While appearing in 10 games last season, Tavai recorded just 17 tackles, a number he nearly reached through four games played in 2013.
Tavai’s first game replacing Breslin in the starting lineup came on Oct. 10 against Arizona, and the junior rose to the occasion with 10 tackles.
Two weeks later against Utah, Tavai recorded 11 tackles and two sacks.
What went wrong: It’s hard to pinpoint anything that went wrong for Tavai.
He did miss three games due to injury, and had three games where he only manged to record one tackle.
However, given his versatility and intangibles that don’t appear in the stats, Tavai catches a break.
What’s next: Tavai could enter the 2014 NFL Draft, but is expected to return for his senior season in 2014 and should continue to play a key role on the Trojan defense.
Final Grade: B+
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