Not many college football teams can raid the linebacker meeting room for tailback help, but Tre Madden proved Tuesday that the USC Trojans have that versatility in stock. After standing out at outside linebacker during the first full pads practice of spring, Madden donned a cardinal jersey on Tuesday, making the move to tailback.
"Having a week to sit around and think about what our team needs, this is a time to try it," said head coach Lane Kiffin.
Kiffin acknowledged that the experiment could end shortly and Madden would be on his way back to strongside linebacker, but he also gave several reasons supporting a possible permanent move.
"As you go back and look at our testing -- height, weight, speed -- he would be one of our best guys on our whole team," Kiffin said. "For a guy who is 230 pounds and ran a 4.5 electronic (40-yard dash) -- one of the top times on our team regardless of position -- we don't have that right now. If he can give us that, that would be great."
Kiffin said Madden was more than ready to make the move, and was actually thinking about it himself recently. At this point, the coaches will use this week to take a look at the sophomore athlete and will decide after that which way to go, provided there is a lean one way or another. Kiffin and running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu raved about Madden's ability to catch the ball, and playing offense is nothing new to Madden, who served as a Wildcat quarterback at Mission Viejo High School. The possible logjam behind starter Dion Bailey at linebacker also could make tailback an attractive option, as Madden immediately becomes the fourth back on the depth chart without taking a single carry.
"He gives you a big guy that can run really fast, and that's unusual to find," Kiffin said. "If it works out, we give ourselves something we don't have right now.
Tuesday injury report: Robert Woods will sit out the remainder of spring ball in order to rest his ankle. Kiffin said he had been doing some work on the side, but the decision has been made to let him rest completely and the staff will give that as long as it takes. Kiffin said the rest he underwent after his surgery was to get rid of the limp that plagued him last season, so there is no point having him fight through it this spring.