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We Are SC roundtable

Silas Redd led USC against Hawaii with 56 yards on nine carries. Kirby Lee/US Presswire

WeAreSC staffers discuss a variety of topics relating to USC football:

Who was the most impressive newcomer against Hawaii?

Garry Paskwietz: Morgan Breslin. That was a surprise, to see Breslin all over the field making plays. It was understood that he could rush the quarterback, but he gave the defensive line so much more in that game. In a group full of young defensive linemen who made things happen, Breslin stood out with his performance.

Greg Katz: If you’re talking about the freshmen, the most impressive newcomer to me would be defensive lineman Leonard Williams, who showed that he was worthy of all the hype. And he’ll only get better. In terms of redshirts who played, I really liked the play of redshirt freshman outside linebacker Anthony Sarao. He was fast to the ball, and his motor is always running.

Johnny Curren: Morgan Breslin. I would never have guessed it if you asked me in the spring, but Breslin seized his opportunity in fall camp and was really the star of the game on defense against Hawaii. Showcasing a relentless motor, he was extremely active all night and helped shore up a defensive line that was a question mark heading into the game.

What do the Trojans need to do to slow down Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib?

GP: Rush the passer. The Trojans got an up-close look at what Nassib can do when he gets into a rhythm -- he hit on his first 11 passes last year at the Coliseum. It was one thing for the Trojans to get after a rookie quarterback like Sean Schroeder from Hawaii last week, but Nassib is a veteran and Ed Orgeron’s group is going to need another solid game to keep the pressure on.

GK: Plain and simple, the best way to stop Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib is to have a ferocious pass rush and lockdown cornerback play. We’ll get a better idea of the Trojans defense on Saturday, because Nassib plays with a lot of heart and was very competitive in a heartbreaking loss to Northwestern.

JC: Get another strong effort out of their defensive line. The Trojans need to get after Nassib, and get after him fast. But if they have to blitz too often, the Syracuse signal-caller is more than capable of burning the Trojans. Fortunately for USC, the defensive line has already shown that it can bring the heat in a big way with its performance against the Warriors.

Who needs a big game more, Curtis McNeal or Robert Woods?

GP: Curtis McNeal. Woods is coming back from a long layoff, and it figures to be only a matter of time before he is back to normal. In the meantime, Marqise Lee is capable of leading the way for the receiver group until Woods is completely healthy. McNeal, on the other hand, is fine. He has been working and preparing for this moment as the senior starter and five carries for 10 yards against Hawaii isn’t what he was thinking. The Trojans will need to find some run balance at some point for their offense and – if McNeal isn’t the one to get it done – there is another option in the mix now in the form of Silas Redd.

GK: In my opinion, wide receiver Robert Woods needs to have a big game because it will take the pressure off Marqise Lee, as teams try to slow Lee down. If Woods is healthy, he can really have more of an impact than Curtis McNeal because McNeal has no control over the rushing plays called when he is in there, and a lot of his success depends on the blocking of the offensive line.

JC: Curtis McNeal. At some point this season, the Trojans are going to need McNeal and the ground game to perform. It’s hard to make it through an entire season counting almost entirely on your passing attack, no matter how explosive it is. This is the perfect game to get McNeal going with some productive reps so that he stays true to the form that we saw last season when he eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark.