LOS ANGELES -- USC tailback Buck Allen remained on the Coliseum floor well after the conclusion of the Trojans 'Saturday scrimmage, providing answers to questions posed by the media. But of far more importance to Allen’s USC career was the fact that he was finally able to take the field and answer some questions for the USC coaches.
After arriving partway through fall camp last year, Allen served on the scout team throughout the season. This spring, the depleted tailback numbers were going to give Allen an opportunity to prove that he belonged in the rotation. But a hamstring injury early on forced him to the sideline, and Saturday became the first time Allen saw the field for any significant length of time. And while his first opportunity resulted in a muffed handoff, he bounced back with a 12-yard carry on his first successful attempt, and authored several impressive runs throughout the day.
“It felt good,” Allen said of his first extended work this spring. “I tried to go hard and give it my all, do what coach asked me to do…Today gave me confidence. Now I can go look at myself on film and work off of that.”
Allen said he is still not completely healthy -- he estimated around 85 or 90 percent -- but said he felt good enough to put himself out there in a scrimmage environment.
“A hamstring injury is something to take seriously, so I tried my best to go through rehab and treatment, and when I felt it was best to come back, I came back,” Allen said.
The timing couldn’t have been better for the USC offense, as it was just days removed from losing tailback Tre Madden for the season to a torn knee ligament. Allen said the injury -- which knocked the Trojans back to three scholarship tailbacks -- was the final impetus he needed to get back on the field.
“My teammate went down so I knew I had to step up,” Allen said. “I could have taken today off, but I didn’t. I had to step up for my team.”
Now that they’ve gotten a taste of Allen on the field, USC coaches are anxious to use the final three spring ball practices to see what they have. Head coach Lane Kiffin lamented Madden’s injury as a huge loss to the team, as Madden was turning into a special player at tailback. Running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu is looking forward to seeing what Allen can bring to the backfield.
“He’s a big kid, really strong and can catch,” Polamalu said of Allen. “He’s just learning how to see the game quicker. He still has those eyes rolling around in the back of his head. We’re going to bring him along. The next three practices, we’re going to rep the [heck] out of him.”