As Saturday's game versus No. 17 USC rapidly approaches, DuckTerritory examines five Trojan players Duck fans should acquaint themselves with before kickoff. Below is all the pertinent information you will need to identify the biggest weapons on both offense and defense for Oregon’s opponent heading in to the weekend.
There may not be a better football player in the country than USC's Marqise Lee.
5. #91 DE Morgan Breslin - JR - 6'2", 250 lbs. - Walnut Creek (Calif.) Las Lomas via Pleasant Hill (Calif.) Diablo Valley College
The USC defensive line isn't short on talent or production this season, as true freshman Leonard Williams, redshirt freshman Antwan Woods, sophomore George Uko, and junior Morgan Breslin have each tallied at least 4.5 tackles for loss this season. Of the group however, Breslin is the one who the Ducks should concern themselves the most with come Saturday. A former junior college transfer who was expected to take a bit of a backseat to the talented Trojan youngsters, Breslin has commanded a significant portion of the spotlight this season. His 12.0 tackles for loss and 7.0 sacks lead USC and rank fourth overall in the Pac-12 Conference. While not necessarily the physical specimen compared to Williams, Uko, Woods, and others, Breslin is a relentless pass rusher who will need to be accounted for at all times.
4. #18 LB Dion Bailey - SO - 6'0", 210 lbs. - Lakewood (Calif.)
Originally considered a safety coming out of Southern California powerhouse Lakewood High School, Dion Bailey transitioned to linebacker prior to the spring of 2011 and has been arguably the Trojans' top defensive player ever since. Coming off a wildly successful 2011 campaign which saw him tie for the team lead in tackles as a redshirt freshman and take home Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors, Bailey has more or less picked up right where he left off last season. Speedy, hard-nosed, and tremendously athletic, Bailey enters Saturday's game versus Oregon as the Trojans' second leading tackler (52) and tied for the conference lead in interceptions with four. While senior safety T.J. McDonald might be USC unquestioned leader on defense, Bailey is without a doubt their best defensive playmaker.
3. #2 WR Robert Woods - JR - 6'1", 190 lbs. - Carson (Calif.) Serra
A first-team All-America wide receiver coming out of high school, Robert Woods has shouldered the burden of high expectations about as well as any USC receiver in history. His Pac-10 Freshman Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2010 were followed by consensus All-American honors as a sophomore in 2011. As a junior this season, Woods surpassed former Trojan Dwayne Jarrett as USC's all-time leader in receptions in a convincing 50-6 drubbing of Colorado approximately two weeks ago. On the year, Woods has caught 53 passes for 585 yards and nine touchdowns, with his marks in receptions and touchdowns ranking fourth and second in the Pac-12, respectively. Teamed with super sophomore Marqise Lee, you'd be hard pressed to find a better tandem of wide receivers in the United States. Indeed, Saturday's matchup on the perimeter versus Woods and Lee could prove to be the biggest individual tests in the young collegiate careers of Oregon cornerbacks Terrance Mitchell and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.
2. #7 QB Matt Barkley - SR - 6'2", 230 lbs. - Newport Beach (Calif.) Mater Dei
Anointed as the future at quarterback for the Trojans as junior in high school, Matt Barkley was the first true freshman quarterback to ever start at USC. Since then, Barkley has lead the Trojans through their darkest period in school history after the NCAA levied a two-year bowl ban and significant scholarship reductions prior to his sophomore season. Still though, Barkley has accomplished tremendous individual success, currently reigning as the Pac-12's career leader in touchdown passes; an honor he earned in USC's 50-6 win over Colorado, surpassing former USC quarterback Matt Leinart. Entering the 2012 season, Barkley was considered the Heisman Trophy frontrunner coming off a stellar junior season in which he completed nearly 70 percent (69.1) of his passes for 3,528 yards, 39 touchdowns and seven interceptions; turning down a likely top five selection in the 2012 NFL Draft to return to Los Angeles for his senior season. With two losses already in the books for USC, Barkley's Heisman hopes have been dashed, though he's enjoying an impressive season leading the Pac-12 in touchdown passes (25) and ranking second in the conference in passing efficiency (163.30) behind Arizona State's Taylor Kelly.
1. #9 WR Marqise Lee - SO - 6'0", 195 lbs. - Inglewood (Calif.) Serra
You can blame USC's struggles this season on a number of different things, but the one thing you can't do is blame Marqise Lee. A rising star who earned Pac-12 Freshman Co-Offensive Player of the Year with Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas in 2011, Lee has gone supernova this season, laying rightful claim to the distinction of "college football's most impactful player." Lee's sprinter speed, leaping ability, and capacity for catching the ball anywhere in the vicinity of his zip code makes him perhaps the nation's most unnerving individual matchup. His 76 catches for 1,129 yards and 10 touchdowns this season rank Lee second nationally in each category, with his 16 catch, 345 yard, and two touchdown performance in a losing effort last week at Arizona rating as the greatest single-game performance by a receiver in conference history. If not for his team's two losses this season, there's no doubt Lee would be in the thick of -- if not leading -- the Heisman Trophy discussion.