When the Trojans hit the field in just ten days against Hawai’i, they’ll do so with an offense that many are calling the same offense from 2011. But, with two new faces in the backfield, running back Silas Redd and fullback Soma Vainuku, USC brings back some flare from past Trojan teams, with some much needed depth and variation.
Redd, Penn State’s most notable defect, will split carries with Curtis McNeal at tailback, where barring an unforeseen injury, he will end the depth issues that the Trojans had going into camp.
Though Lane Kiffin has tried a two-headed attack in his two years at the helm of the Trojans, he’s yet to get it running with cohesion among the backs. This year, with Redd and McNeal, the Trojans bring back two veteran backs for really the first time since 2005, when Reggie Bush and LenDale White were pounding the rock.
Yes, Troy had Joe McKnight and Stafon Johnson returned together in 2009, but Johnson’s injury early in the season negated what could have been a ‘Thunder & Lightning’ Light package. Redd and McNeal however, bring a dual-threat backfield that offers a similar running style, as two hard-working speed backs that should force the tempo of the opposing defenses and wear down front sevens, while setting up the passing game with Robert Woods and Marqise Lee.
Though their differences in style isn’t their keynote asset as a package, their experience is what makes them a threat in the Pac-12, the conference of running backs in 2012.
While Redd and McNeal can bring back an altered variation of Bush and White, fullback Soma Vainuku gives the Trojans a viable pass-catching option out of the backfield much like Stanley Havili did for what felt like decades, from 2006 to 2010.
Not only do they share the same number, 31, but Vainuku and Havili have an awfully similar skill set, showing a mixture of size and speed that is seemingly built for passes into the flat, and check downs for Matt Barkley that could open up into large gains.
Plus, like Havili, Vainuku brings in experience as a ball carrier, as he had over 2,200 yards and 38 touchdowns as a senior in Eureka back in 2009. On top of that, he’s the cousin of Rey Maualuga, further instilling his ties to Trojan teams of the past.
In the end, the Trojans’ backfield appears to be the most secure going into the season since 2009, and could very well be the most talented since 2005, with newcomers Redd and Vainuku putting it over the top.