The University of Southern California Trojans are the favorite to win the Pac-12 Conference and possibly a national championship. That was before they added one of the best running backs in the country to their lineup.
Unless you've been living under a rock, the Trojans successfully wooed Penn State's Silas Redd (see related articles) after the Nittany Lions were hit with heavy sanctions and penalties by the NCAA following the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal. Players were allowed to leave and Redd was one of the first to depart.
McNeal no slouch
With the additions of Redd to an already potent offense, USC now has the luxury of leaning on the running game more because before Redd's arrival, the Trojans had a thin backfield. Thin yes, but talented when you knew the starting tailback was senior Curtis McNeal who ran for over 1,000 yards in 2011. The then redshirt junior only started the last four games of the year and over the last six contests, the 5'7" 190 pounder averaged about 120 yards per game and scored four touchdowns.
So McNeal is talented, so say the least, but he's relatively small and taking on the workload without much help off the bench made for a tenuous situation for USC heading into 2012. However, that problem essentially doesn't exist anymore with Redd's presence. The Trojans now have a snappy one-two punch coming out of the backfield.
Last season, for a Penn State team that was waylaid by the Sandusky controversy, Redd and the team did an exceptional job, finishing the regular season 9-3 before losing to an excellent Houston Cougar team at the 2012 Ticket City Bowl in Dallas, Texas. The 5'10" 200 pound junior's numbers are certainly impressive on their own.
Big-time runner now "a Trojan"
Redd gained 1,241 yards for the season, averaged 5.1 yards per carry and scored seven touchdowns for the Nittany Lions. During one stretch of the season in 2011, he had five straight one-hundred games - all against Big Ten opponents. But Redd is with the men of Troy now as he said: "I'm opening a new chapter of my life. I'm a Trojan now." (Source - L.A. Times)
How and when each of these two special players are able to play will be key for head coach Lane Kiffin to figure out. Both of them are quick and run low to the ground and therefore are hard to tackle. They both have very strong legs. Could it be that they would both play at the same time? Possibly. As a fan, I would think the USC coaching staff will try a little of everything to see how they work together and with other players and formations.
Matt Barkley, Robert Woods & Marqise Lee
Less we not forget, with the leading Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback in Matt Barkley and two prolific wide receivers in Robert Woods and Marqise Lee, the Trojans won't become a running team just because they have two 1,000 yard rushers. But having a top-flight running back in the backfield at all times who is always fresh, will pay dividends as games and the season wear on.
And it should be noted that redshirt sophomore D. J. Morgan (5'10" 190 pounds), who seems to be the forgotten man in the backfield for USC, is available and capable of giving the Trojans a fast quick back; but his knack for injuries and fumbling will likely keep him on the bench more times than not.
Redd will have to work extra hard to learn and acquire the feel for the Trojans offense. McNeal may likely be the starter as the season opens but expect Redd to see plenty of snaps as the year progresses … giving the USC Trojans an impressive one-two punch in the backfield.
Sources - USC, ESPN
Daryle lived in Los Angeles Ca. most of his life and has been a longtime fan of USC and the Pac-12, having closely followed the Trojans since he was just a youngster. Fight On!