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USC's Morgan Breslin makes impact in season debut

The senior linebacker, who led the team in sacks last year, has two big plays in the first half against Washington State.

September 07, 2013|By Gary Klein
  • Morgan Breslin, shown at practice this summer, led USC with 13 sacks last year.
Morgan Breslin, shown at practice this summer, led USC with 13 sacks last… (Jae C. Hong / Associated…)

After sitting out the opener because of injury, USC linebacker Morgan Breslin made his season debut Saturday night against Washington State.

And the senior made his presence felt in a game that was tied, 7-7, at halftime. Breslin, who had a team-best 13 sacks last season, sacked Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday for an eight-yard loss in the second quarter. On the next play, lineman George Uko sacked Halliday and forced a fumble that helped set up a touchdown for a 7-0 lead.

Breslin was injured early in training camp. He traveled to Hawaii with the team but was held out for precautionary reasons.

On Saturday, he had two tackles by halftime.

Harris steps up

Cornerback Torin Harris continued the Trojans' early-season run of interceptions, picking off a pass in the end zone to thwart a first-quarter Washington State threat.

It was the fifth interception of the season for the Trojans and Harris' second career interception. Safety Dion Bailey also intercepted a pass, his second of the season and eighth of his career.

Harris, a senior, started the game after playing behind junior Anthony Brown and sophomore Kevon Seymour in USC's season-opening victory at Hawaii.

Harris started at cornerback opposite Josh Shaw, who moved from safety. Shaw started seven games at cornerback last season.

Bailey, Demetrius Wright and Cravens started at safety.

Line shuffle

Aundrey Walker, who started at offensive left tackle last season, started Saturday night's game at right guard.

Walker suffered several injuries during training camp and was supplanted by redshirt freshman Chad Wheeler.

Walker moved to right guard, where he competed with incumbent starter John Martinez late in training camp. Walker, however, suffered an apparent knee injury in the days leading up to the opener and did not play against Hawaii.

Rogers catches on

Freshman receiver Darreus Rogers got his first catch, making a seven-yard reception on the Trojans' first possession.

Rogers had an outstanding training camp and played in the opener, but did not catch a pass as junior Marqise Lee and sophomore Nelson Agholor shared the load.

Receivers coach Tee Martin said last week there is a process for freshman receivers. "Being a freshman, he saw how Nelson had to earn the respect and trust" of the coaches, Martin said. "Nelson didn't come in having big games early in the season."

Local challenge

Washington State's Daquawn Brown, a freshman cornerback who played at Los Angeles Dorsey High, started and had seven tackles and one pass breakup by halftime.

Washington State running back Marcus Mason, a junior from Rancho Cucamonga Etiwanda, rushed for 20 yards in nine carries in the first half. Teondray Caldwell, a sophomore who played at Venice High, rushed for six yards in one carry.

Washington State receiver Gabe Marks, a sophomore who played at Venice, caught two passes for 24 yards. Bobby Ratliff, a junior from Etiwanda, caught one for seven yards.

Quick hits

USC entered the game 58-8-4 against Washington State. USC had not lost to Washington State since 2002, when the Cougars won, 30-27, in overtime at Pullman, Wash. The Cougars defeated USC, 33-27, at the Coliseum in 2000.

gary.klein@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimesklein

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