Fumbling problems leave few options

LOS ANGELES -- Sure, USC coach Lane Kiffin has tried to remove Silas Redd from games after his fumbles this season for the Trojans, for punishment purposes.

Then the players he has replaced Redd with have fumbled, too. So Kiffin goes back to his No. 1 running back and hopes for no more mistakes.

It's his only choice, really.

"All three of our running backs have given the ball up, and it's been very discouraging," Kiffin said Wednesday. "They've been momentum-changing turnovers, where they've been really big deals."

Redd's most recent fumble was an example of that. With the Trojans down 10 points near the start of the second quarter against Arizona, he got the ball in the red zone and trained his eyes on the goal line before the Wildcats' Marquis Flowers knocked the ball out of his hands.

USC didn't call a run play on its next two drives. Redd got just one more carry the rest of the half, with sophomore D.J. Morgan taking over the primary ballcarrier role -- until he fumbled near the end of the third.

Morgan didn't touch the ball again, and Redd was shuffled back in as a pass-catcher during USC's late attempt to rally.

"We gave D.J. the ball," Kiffin said, "and then he fumbled too."

Redd has now lost the ball three times this season for USC, a sizable blip on an otherwise impressive debut season for the Trojans. He has carried for 640 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging 5.5 yards per carry.

The fumbles are "disgusting," he said.

"I come out here and work on ballhandling every day and it's supposed to translate to gameday," Redd said this week. "That's something I gotta take more pride in."

Running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu lit into Redd, Morgan and Curtis McNeal during their Sunday positional meeting. Redd cringed when later asked about it, saying it was fierce "to say the least."

Oregon, USC's opponent on Saturday, has forced an average of two fumbles per game this season.