PSU's Redd ready to unload full 'arsenal'
April, 10, 2012
By Adam Rittenberg | ESPN.com
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- When Penn State running back Silas Redd sat down to watch Super Bowl XLVI, he had two goals in mind.
1. Go Giants!
2. Study the New England Patriots' offense, which would soon become his offense at Penn State under new coach Bill O'Brien.
"Part of me obviously wanted my coach to get a ring," Redd told ESPN.com, "but being a Giants fan, I couldn't display that too much."
Redd hasn't fully disclosed his NFL allegiance to O'Brien, although the coach likely has figured it out. And the Lions junior certainly isn't going to bring up the game with his coach, whose Patriots' tenure ended with a 21-17 loss.
"No, no," Redd said, smiling. "I'm not trying to see the bench this year."
Redd shouldn't have to worry too much.
Penn State has no shortage of question marks on offense as it implements a complex new scheme, but the No. 1 running back spot isn't one of them. Redd had a breakout sophomore season in 2011, rushing for 1,241 yards and seven touchdowns on 244 carries. While Penn State rotated quarterbacks and sputtered in the passing game, Redd emerged as the offense's best weapon, and, at times, only weapon.
What makes Redd unique is that he has already reinvented himself during his brief college career, going from a smaller, shifty back as a freshman in 2010, to a workhorse, power back in 2011. He turned in a Herculean month in October, leading the FBS with 703 rushing yards, and logging a staggering 133 carries in five games.
What's the next phase for Redd's career?
"It's just bringing those together," he said. "I've got the shiftiness, and now I have the power running down. Let's try to combine those together -- when I need to stiff-arm a guy, when I need to make a guy miss, when I need to run through an arm tackle -- and become a more complete back.
"It's kind of like an arsenal now. You have certain things in your arsenal, and you bring them out when you think you need to."
As a 192-pound true freshman in 2010, Redd had only one choice: make 'em miss. Then he bulked up to 209 pounds before the 2011 season and realized he could run over defenders, perhaps too much so at times.
"I felt stronger, and I maybe tried to display it too much," said Redd, who currently checks in at 205 pounds and should remain there for the season. "I was using the wrong moves at the wrong times. It's something you don't want to think about it. It should be instinct."
Redd said his open-field decisions are coming more naturally now, although he wants to display better patience. His primary objective is learning O'Brien's offense and its demands for the backs, including an increased role in the pass game.
After recording nine receptions for 40 yards last season, Redd should see his numbers increase. He's lining up more in the slot -- "That seems to be a big formation for our offense, where I'm split out," he said -- or being offset in the shotgun.
"It challenges you as an athlete to see what you can do, not just in the I-formation," he said. "For anyone that has aspirations to go to the next league, this is the offense you want to be in."
Redd and O'Brien have discussed the NFL, and what Redd must do to get there.
"The main thing is pass blocking," Redd said. "He says the one thing rookie backs don't know how to do is pass block."
Redd is confident in his strength as a blocker, but he's working on technique and positioning this spring.
The Big Ten returns nine of its top 10 rushers from 2011, and Redd, who finished fourth in the league, will be in the mix for league and national honors, along with backs like Wisconsin's Montee Ball and Nebraska's Rex Burkhead.
"He's a smart guy, he's a tough guy, he's got good vision and good balance, he can catch the ball out of the backfield," O'Brien said of Redd. "He's a good all-around back."
And he could have a full arsenal at his disposal this season.