USC Football Roundtable: Should USC lean on running back by committee?

Oct 10, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans tailback Tre Madden (23) is pursued by Arizona Wildcats cornerback Jonathan McKnight (6) on a 62-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Trenise Ferreira:

Running back by committee seems to be working, so why ruin a good thing? As USC travels to South Bend this weekend, we can expect to see a lot of that increasingly-stout running game. The bevy of backs that USC has makes the running game difficult to defend, and really allows USC to grind out the yards that  will serve the Trojans well in this tough road challenge. When it comes to the running game, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Matthew Moreno:

I think USC should use a running backs by committee approach unless/until one or two really separate themselves from the pack.  Obviously, Madden was on his way to establishing himself, but the injury he suffered against Arizona will probable stymy some of his momentum.

The Trojans have a bevy of talented running backs and each presents a unique skill set.  For now, I think the play here could be to shuffle them in and out of the game early, and go with the hot hand(s) late.

Josh Webb:

I think that answer is completely obvious. There is absolutely no reason why every, single one of those talented backs shouldn’t touch the ball like that. The last time five Trojans rushed for more than 30 yards in a game was 1990. That’s some pretty special running. No reason to dial it back.

Alicia de Artola:

There’s certainly an argument to be made for getting the ball into the hands of all of USC’s capable playmakers, but I’m going to go against the grain. If Tre Madden and Silas Redd are both healthy, they should shoulder the bulk of the carries as a pair. That’s not to say that Justin Davis, Buck Allen and even Ty Isaac aren’t capable and exciting young players. They just aren’t the ones I want with the ball in their hands when it matters most.This season, the Trojans have averaged 40 rush attempts a game. There’s only so many carries to go around and I’d rather see Madden get 20 carries than ten. I’d rather see Redd get 15 than eight.

Topics: Buck Allen, Justin Davis, Silas Redd, Tre Madden, USC Trojans

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  • steveg

    I feel it is Maddens job to lose. He carried the Trojans when Redd got hurt. Let the guys give him a blow, but Tre Madden is the man and should get his carries if he is healthy.

    • Alicia de Artola

      I agree. He’s just been too good this season to take any carries away from him.

  • Ben Factor

    Alicia:

    (1) I think that USC should mostly play two RBs and not an RB and an FB. Why can’t Madden and Allen and Isaacs learn to block? (Well, right now, two are injured.)

    In addition, is there a good reason not to use RBs more in the slot as receivers?

    I know that there was some of this in the AZ game. Perhaps there is more to come.

    (2) My sense of Davis is that he may be the most naturally talented of all of them. He was not 100% against AZ, but against ASU, he was really extraordinary. Am I wrong? If not, do you really want to reduce his carries?

    (3) I’m inclined to agree with your male colleagues this time. First, play the one who is clearly better (but right now, do you see Reggie Bush/OJ Simpson/Marcus Allen?). Second, play the one who’s core competence matches down and distance (you allude to this). Third (or maybe second), play the one who is having a special day (if any). Fourth, play fresh legs, and keep them all fairly happy. I point out that Alabama tends to spread the carries, and promotes to RB prospects that they will enter the NFL Draft with lots of remaining productive “miles”.

    • Alicia de Artola

      All good points, especially about using the RBs in the slot.
      I suppose my argument is that if 1 and 2 are really hitting it, we shouldn’t be afraid to give 3 and 4 the shorter end of the stick. By the same token, I’ve got nothing against turning to 3 and 4 if 1 and 2 are’t getting it done.
      It’s all about being pragmatic. Obviously injuries play a huge part in that, but in an ideal world, I think Tre Madden + Silas Redd with a sprinkling of Justin Davis (and heavy doses of Davis and Allen in garbage time) is better than splitting carries more evenly between the four.

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