The Trojans might be having some defensive issues with coverage in the secondary, but there are no such concerns with the aggressive playmaking from the front seven.
Coming into the season there was a lot of angst about the inexperience and lack of depth in the front seven, an issue that was compounded by the opening game absences of regular starters Wes Horton (DE) and Lamar Dawson (MLB). Well, both Horton and Dawson played sparingly against Syracuse but neither did much. Instead it was the usual names such as Dion Bailey and Hayes Pullard plus the second strong game in a row from Morgan Breslin.
You can’t understate how important Breslin has been to the USC d-line through these first two games. He has been a playmaker, very active, and in this game he had five solo tackles, a sack and two tackles for loss. He also fought off a chip block and got his hands in the air to tip a pass that was eventually intercepted by Bailey. Breslin wasn’t the only d-lineman helping Bailey get picks either as George Uko provided tremendous pressure on the first Bailey interception.
Not only did Bailey get the pair of interceptions, he also tied for the Trojans lead in tackles with eight and did a terrific job to sniff out a Syracuse two-point conversion attempt. He was joined as a leading tackler by Pullard, who has filled in nicely for Dawson in the middle, and had a powerful head-up tackle near the goal line of a Syracuse ball-carrier.
A physical test awaits the Trojans next week at Stanford and it was known that the USC front seven was going to need to be ready if USC hopes to come away with a victory. Judging by what’s been seen so far up front, that group seems more than ready for the challenge.