Running the show
Redd hasn't done anything otherworldly yet
Silas Redd and Curtis McNeal are both good running backs. But Redd, the Penn State transfer, has yet to prove he's better than McNeal in equal situations. Sure, he rushed for more yards than McNeal on Saturday against Syracuse and in the 2011 season, but he had more opportunities.
Entering the fourth quarter of Saturday's game, the two were virtually even -- Redd had 12 carries for 62 yards and McNeal had 10 for 63. Then McNeal got one chance, which was stuffed easily at the line, and Redd got three. He did well to gain 40 yards on the first of those, but he also benefitted from some gaping holes to run through.
The same thing happened last season, when Redd outgained McNeal, 1,241-1,005, but did it in 99 more carries, making his per-carry average considerably less. For my money, the most important statistic for a running back is how many yards he gains each time he touches the ball, and there are very few players in the country that can beat McNeal in that category.
How can you not give McNeal a chance to be your every-down back after the way he ended the 2011 season? He had four 100-yard rushing games in his final six games. No, he hasn't had one this year, but it would be hard to do considering he's only gotten 16 touches through two games.
Maybe Redd will eventually beat McNeal out this season. He's gotten better since arriving on campus a little more than a month ago, and he'll almost certainly be the starter next year, if he chooses to return. But he hasn't done anything otherworldly yet.
Until -- or unless -- he does, Redd and McNeal should continue splitting carries -- and McNeal should get the slight advantage over Redd, too, not the other way around.
No question about Redd's talent
Lane Kiffin has always been careful not to label Silas Redd as USC's starting tailback since he arrived on campus from Penn State, where he rushed for 1,241 yards and seven touchdowns last season.
Kiffin has been sensitive not to simply dismiss Curtis McNeal, a 5-foot-7, 190-pound senior tailback who rushed for 1,005 yards and six touchdowns last season for USC. McNeal earned his starting job with the Trojans over the past four years and was featured on the team's media guide and posters heading into this season.
As much as McNeal has endeared himself to his teammates and coaches during his time at USC, there's no question Redd is the Trojans' featured back now and there's no need for Kiffin to continue to tiptoe around the subject.
This isn't to say McNeal won't be a major part of the offense, but there's no need to give him the ceremonial start and first carry only to give the majority of the other plays to Redd moving forward.
After two games this season Redd has 163 yards on 43 carries for one touchdown while McNeal has 73 yards on 16 carries and no touchdowns. Robert Woods, who had 76 yards on one carry, is actually the team's second leading rusher.
Redd is also averaging 6.8 yards per carry to 4.6 from McNeal, and has one reception for 41 yards while McNeal took his one catch 20 yards.
McNeal will still play a prominent role in USC's offense this season -- many successful NFL teams use two tailbacks -- but there's no question that Redd is USC's featured back.