The USC Trojans began the 2013 season with expectation of having six tailbacks on the roster that could conceivably see playing time.
Three games into the season, it’s been a heavy dose of Tre Madden, with Justin Davis and Javorius “Buck” Allen sprinkled in here and there.
After Madden piled up another game with over 100 rushing yards, and Davis chipped in with 96 yards in a 35-7 victory over Boston College, Lane Kiffin appears to have found himself a nice one-two punch out of the backfield.
But wait, what about Silas Redd?
Redd, who transferred from Penn State prior to the 2012 season, came to Los Angeles with high hopes.
USC was the 2012 preseason No. 1 team and with all the attention Marqise Lee and Robert Woods were sure to receive, Redd figured to see his fair share of open running lanes.
Needless to say, 2012 didn’t pan out as expected.
Fast forward to 2013, Redd is still recovering from injury, having recently visited renowned Dr. James Andrews for what’s only been described by USC as a “procedure”.
USC has stated the “procedure” went well and the last two weeks Kiffin has said he hopes to have Redd available for the forthcoming game. The same holds true for this weekend’s tilt against the Utah State Aggies.
With Redd’s exact return date unknown, when it eventually does arrive, USC may find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Kiffin has not been a proponent of playing three or more running backs a game, unless the score dictated it. If Madden and Davis continue to produce, how could taking carries away from one of them be justified?
The smart play would be for Kiffin to continue starting Madden, so long as he remains healthy, and utilize Davis and Redd situationally. Redd can provide another physical running style, with Davis being the change of pace back.
The key in potentially having the luxury of using all three running backs will be Kiffin and the coaching staff’s ability to keep them focused and aware that each has the equal opportunity to have his number called.
The saving grace for USC could be a team rarely makes it through an entire season without one or multiple running backs suffering an injury.
That isn’t to hope for an injury, but should one occur, USC appears capable of absorbing the loss.
Also, as much promise as Davis has shown, he is a true freshman that has yet to experience the grind of a college football season. Fatigue could set in at one point, which would force USC to at times look in a different direction.
There is some traction behind the thought that Redd is being handled with extra care since USC has been able to rely on Madden on Davis.
So long as USC’s current running backs continue to get the job done and remain healthy, Redd should not return until he is 100%.
Once Redd is healthy enough to play, he should be provided an opportunity to compete for significant playing time but not automatically guaranteed a spot atop the depth chart.