How Redd fills gaps in USC’s offense
July, 31, 2012
By Sharon Katz and Jonathan McDonald | ESPN.com
Former Penn State running back Silas Redd will be a great fit at USC.
Redd will join an already stacked USC offense. Last season, the Trojans were the only team in FBS with a 3,500-yard passer in Matt Barkley, two 1,000-yard receivers in Robert Woods and Marqise Lee and a 1,000-yard rusher in Curtis McNeal. All four players are returning next season, along with four of USC’s five offensive line starters from a season ago.
Despite returning nine offensive starters, the Trojans had one glaring hole entering 2012: depth at running back. USC returns Curtis McNeal, who averaged an astonishing 6.9 yards per attempt last season, but after McNeal only D.J. Morgan has any career carries (42 rush attempts).
While USC may have had one of the most prolific passing attacks in the nation last season, its running game was far from efficient. The Trojans ran for 12 touchdowns in 392 attempts, the second lowest touchdown percentage in the Pac-12 and the 96th lowest rate in the nation.
USC struggled most in the red zone, rushing for the fewest touchdowns (8) in the Pac-12, while losing a Pac-12 worst five fumbles inside of the 20. Curtis McNeal averaged 2.9 yards per attempt in the red zone and scored just two touchdowns in 79 attempts.
Silas Redd, who averaged 3.8 yards per attempt and scored seven red-zone touchdowns, should bolster a red zone rushing attack that ranked tied for 115th in FBS in red zone touchdown percentage (13.3 pct).
Redd’s receiving skills should also help Matt Barkley and the passing game. Over the last three seasons, USC averaged 56.7 pass attempts to its running backs per season. Yet returning USC running backs have only been targeted five times resulting in three catches in their careers. Silas Redd caught 13 passes in a limited passing offense at Penn State, adding depth to USC’s receiving corps.
The threat of Redd and McNeal in the backfield will only help Matt Barkley.
Barkley’s completion percentage jumped over 10 percentage points after a play-action fake last season, and he averages close to two more yards per attempt after first faking the run in his career.
As one of two teams with two 1,000-yard rushers from last season, USC’s new backfield of Curtis McNeal and Silas Redd may turn a perceived weakness into a strength heading into 2012.
McNeal and Redd may prove to be the best USC tandem since Reggie Bush and LenDale White combined for 3,042 yards and 40 touchdowns in 2005, as together they solidify USC’s red-zone rushing and bolster an already strong passing game.