- Ted Miller, ESPN Staff Writer
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USC's offense was good at just about everything last year. Just about. But not everything.
One thing USC wasn't good at? Red zone offense.
In 2011, it ranked eighth in the Pac-12 in red zone offense. Its eight red zone rushing TDs were the fewest in the Pac-12 and ranked 114th in the nation. Its five fumbles were the most in the conference. It's 2.9 yards per rush inside the 20-yard line ranked ninth in the conference. It's red zone touchdown percentage -- 13.3 percent -- ranked 115th in the nation.
Ergo: Not good.
Trojans RB Curtis McNeal is a good running back. But he wasn't a good running back in the red zone.
Enter Penn State transfer Silas Redd, a tough-running 209-pound junior. Or should we say "Silas Redd Zone."
Redd, as noted by ESPN Stats & Information, scored seven red zone TDs in 2011, compared to two for McNeal. He averaged 3.8 yards per rush, compared to 2.9 yards per rush for McNeal. He rushed for 148 yards in the red zone compared to 79 for McNeal.
Now USC was pretty good passing the ball in the red zone. It had 23 red zone TD passes, which was third most in the Pac-12 behind Washington and Stanford. That boosted its red zone TD percentage to 60.8 percent, which ranked 59th in FBS.
Keep in mind that USC QB Matt Barkley is outstanding in play action, completing over 75 percent of his passes when using a play-action fake, averaging 8.7 yards per attempt with 13 TDs and just one interception. Adding another talented back will only continue to open up the passing game for Barkley.
Further, the notable downside to Redd -- after posting huge numbers in October, he fell off dramatically in November after getting banged up -- shouldn't be an issue for him if he's sharing the ball and not counted on to carry the offense, as he was at Penn State. He won't be asked to carry the ball 22 times per game as he was in the first nine games of 2011.
So the Redd transfer feels like a win-win for Redd and USC.
1dChantel Jennings and David Lombardi