USC Football: Trojans’ Young Defensive Line vs. Syracuse’s Offensive Line


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The defensive line that started against Hawaii had a grand total of zero starts between them and it didn’t seem to matter much.  If Wes Horton returns from an injury that kept him out of the Hawaii game, the Trojans’ defensive line will gain 22 starts from him alone.  Whether or not Horton makes his 2012 debut, this unit is still very green.  Just as it was in the Hawaii game, the experience will likely not matter much here.

If Horton sits out again, we should expect the starting line to again be Morgan Breslin, Antwaun Woods, George Uko(right), and J.R. Tavai.  Leonard Williams, Kevin Greene, and Greg Townsend Jr. figure to receive plenty of playing time as defensive line coach Ed Orgeron works to keep the line fresh and attacking at full speed.

The Syracuse unit that they will be facing is very experienced at left guard (Zach Chilbane, 13 starts) and center (Macky MacPherson, 13 starts).  The other three projected starters; LT Sean Hickey, RG Ivan Foy, and RT, Lou Alexander all got their first start and playing experience against Northwestern last week.  Their stud left tackle, Justin Pugh, is expected to still be out as he recovers from a shoulder surgery that took place in the spring.  This is a huge loss for the Orange as Pugh has 26 starts under his belt and is a two-time All Big East selection.

With the lack of experience that the Orange have on the edge, the Trojans should have great success with their defensive ends getting to the quarterback.  Also look for the Trojans to run some line stunts and twists to confuse Syracuse’s line.  Since the Orange’s linemen don’t have a lot of starts as a unit, their cohesiveness as a unit and communication should be lacking.  This will make it difficult for them to pick up these games.

Syracuse’s line held up pretty well against Northwestern, giving up only one sack.  Northwestern doesn’t have the kind of athletes on the defensive line or anywhere on the field that the Trojans have, so take that 1 sack with a grain of salt.

Look for the Trojans’ defensive line to play a significant role in shutting down the Orange’s offense and the nation’s current top passing attack.