In 2011, Silas Redd became the lead running back for the Penn State Nittany Lions. He rushed for 1,241 yards and recorded 7 touchdowns.
After Penn State was hit with sanctions from the NCAA, Redd announced that he would transfer to USC, where he would be immediately eligible to play. In his first season, Redd ran for 905 yards and recorded 9 touchdowns. After the season, Redd decided he would forgo the NFL Draft and return for his senior season.
Although things looked bright for Redd, they didn’t exactly turn out that way. During spring camp, Redd suffered a knee injury which forced him to sit out the remainder of spring camp and a majority of fall camp as well. As the season approached, it was clear that Redd wasn’t healthy enough to get on the field. Redd didn’t travel with the team for the season opener against Hawaii and decided to visit Dr. James Andrews. Up until that time, the status of his return was still questionable. Week after week, USC football fans were wondering whether or not Redd will take the playing field. However, their question was finally answered.
After practice today, under new interim head coach, Ed Orgeron, Redd announced to the media that he will be ready to play next week against Arizona.
When Redd suffered his injury in spring camp, fans were worried about losing their leading rusher and someone who became a leader for the team. Nevertheless, those worries were short-lived. Luckily, the Trojans have a lot of depth in the running back position, including Tre Madden, D.J. Morgan, Buck Allen and two freshmen, Justin Davis and Ty Isaac.
During fall camp, Madden took the lead as the man who would replace Redd for the time being and freshmen, Justin Davis looked as impressive. Former USC football head coach Lane Kiffin never named a true starter, but handed most of the playing time to sophomore Tre Madden, who didn’t fail to impress. In each of the first 3 games of the season, he rushed for more than 100 yards. He became the first USC player to begin a season with three consecutive 100-yard games since Marcus Allen did it in 1981. In the first 5 games of the season, Madden has rushed for a total of 583 yards and 3 touchdowns. He has also been an asset on the receiving side of the ball, totaling 12 receptions for 135 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Sharing the backfield with Madden has been freshman Justin Davis.
Davis enrolled early last year and began training with the USC football team in the spring. Johnny Curren, a writer for ESPN said “Davis took full advantage of the extended opportunity [during spring camp] to put his talents on display, showcasing a no-nonsense rushing style marked by a perfect blend of power and speed that quickly had USC coach Lane Kiffin singing his praises”. After spring camp, Davis was atop the depth chart alongside Redd and Madden.
In the season opener against Hawaii, Davis rushed for 74 yards and 1 touchdown on 14 attempts. He had limited action USC’s home opener against Washington State, but bounced back with a huge performance rushing for 96 yards and a touchdown on 10 attempts the following week.
His biggest game of the season came last week in the loss against Arizona State, where he rushed for 122 yards on 10 attempts and recorded 3 touchdowns. In just 5 games, Davis has proved his presence on the team and is well on his way to becoming a great running back for USC. He has totaled 311 yards and 5 touchdowns and improved every week.
Usually, when a team’s leading rusher is out due to injury, panic stirs in the locker room and among fans. This was true for a limited time, but the worry turned into relief when Madden and Davis filled the hole that Redd left with his absence. However, it looks like they’ve done more than just fill the hole; Madden is now the second leading rusher in the Pac-12. So what happens when Silas Redd returns this following week? Does he play? Does Coach Orgeron split time between his three top running backs? Does Silas Redd decide to redshirt? These are questions that remain unanswered.
I spoke to class of 2013 alumnus, Michael Gregory II, a lifelong USC football fan about his thoughts on Silas Redd’s return. He said “I think it’ll all depend on Silas. Does he really want to spend another year at USC”? Michael also thinks that a “three guy rotation is hard to pull off and usually doesn’t work”.
One thing that separates Redd from Madden and Davis is the fact that he is not a power back. When he played at Penn State in the Big 10, his speed wasn’t an issue, but it is in the Pac-12 when you have teams like Oregon, Washington, Arizona, UCLA and Stanford who love to rush the ball and have speedy running backs.
Based on his performance in the last 5 games and the speed and skills he has, it doesn’t look like Redd’s return will impact Tre Madden too much. Alumnus, Gregory II says that Orgeron should “either drop Davis and replace him with Silas or have Silas sit out”.
Orgeron has a tough decision ahead of him. In my opinion, Tre Madden should continue to have the majority of the reps and Redd should slowly be incorporated into the game to avoid overworking his injured knee. If Redd decides to play and not redshirt this season, he won’t be the lead back unless Madden gets injured. Nonetheless, the next question would be if Justin Davis plays or not. Seeing the way he has played the past 5 games in just his freshmen season, it doesn’t seem like Davis will watch from the sidelines the rest of the season. He will definitely get some reps and might split time with Redd as Madden’s backup.
We can speculate as much as we want, but we will know the answer next week as USC takes on Arizona.
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