91 days to USC football: Brandon Pili challenged to show more

RoT Countdown / Photo by Alicia de Artola (Reign of Troy)
RoT Countdown / Photo by Alicia de Artola (Reign of Troy) /

With 91 days until USC football returns to the Coliseum, Brandon Pili has 91 days to prepare himself for a brighter 2019 campaign.

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The countdown to USC football’s 2019 season continues with the 91-day mark reached.

On August 31, the Trojans will battle with Fresno State in the season opener at the Coliseum. Until then, fans can pass the time as Reign of Troy examines the past, present and future of every jersey.

Here’s a look at the Trojans’ No. 91:

Who wore it best?

The jersey has come into more prominence this century than previously. From 2012 to 2013, defensive end Morgan Breslin showed great potential in the jersey, though injuries prevented him from truly taking off in the way it seemed he might.

Before Breslin, defensive lineman Jurrell Casey put in three years of top-notch work from 2008 through 2010. After serving as a backup as a freshman, when he was USC’s Service Team Defensive Player of the Year, Casey took over the starting role in 2009, largely appearing at defensive tackle. He was an All-Pac-10 honorable mention with nine tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. He also forced two fumbles and recovered three.

In 2010, Casey established himself as one of the top linemen in the conference. He was voted USC’s team MVP and Defensive Lineman of the Year, while also grabbing an All-Pac-12 first team nod.

Who wears it now?

Noah Jefferson briefly wore the jersey, but his transfer opened it up for three-star Alaskan defensive lineman Brandon Pili. Though he was the least heralded of USC’s 2017 defensive line recruits, he turned out to have the biggest impact early on.

While appearing in nine games —twice filling in as a starter— Pili was an All-Pac-12 honorable mention as a true freshman.

But his 2018 season was disappointing by comparison. The then-sophomore appeared in all 12 games and added two more starts to his name, but was surpassed by Marlon Tuipulotu and seemed to fall out of favor.

This spring, head coach Clay Helton spoke of how the coaching staff challenged Pili to show them more in 2019. It seemed he responded in Spring Camp.

The next question is how well he will carry over what appeared to be renewed focus and energy into the coming campaign.

Stats to know: 91

  • Offensive guard Roy Foster was the 91st All-American in USC history, taking the honor alongside Ronnie Lott and Keith Van Horne in 1980.
  • When USC bested Washington State 18-17 in 1989, quarterback Todd Marinovich led a 91-yard, 18-play touchdown drive pull within a point on pass to Ricky Ervins, before Gary Wellman converted a two-point conversion for the win. All three Trojans —Marinovich, Ervins and Wellman— then went on to be drafted in 1991.
  • USC has held the No. 1 place in the AP poll 91 times.
  • Dwayne Jarrett had 91 receptions in 2005. He totaled 1,274 yards and 16 touchdowns. That season ranks sixth on USC’s single-season pass catching chart.
  • The longest ever run by a USC opponent was 91 yards by Notre Dame’s Bob Livingston in 1947.
  • Brian Williams led USC with 91 tackles in 1992.

Next. 92 Days to Kickoff