In the victory over Washington, the USC Trojans did not have a player gain 100 yards receiving.
Think about that stat for a moment. The USC offense is the very definition of explosive plays from the passing game. This is a team with two receivers who can get that many yards in a single quarter and a quarterback who is as good as any in the country but it wasn’t the case at CenturyLink Field on Saturday.
It’s not like this completely came out of nowhere, either. The Trojans offensive attack led by quarterback Matt Barkley and wide receivers Robert Woods and Marqise Lee has seen their big-play production reduced lately as opponents have made a concerted effort to prevent them from changing a game with their abilities. As that reality has come into play, the Trojans have begun to turn more and more to the running game to provide a consistent role and the game against Washington provided the best example yet of the run game coming through.
It got started with Silas Redd and his 57-yard scamper on the opening possession. Redd added an 11-yard touchdown run in the first quarter after the Dion Bailey interception to give the Trojans an early 10-0 lead.
At that point it seemed like the Trojans went away from the run a little bit and tried to get the passing game going, with mixed results. When the third quarter rolled around, the Trojans were running the ball again with a nice mix of Redd and Curtis McNeal to help create scoring opportunities. Unfortunately there were some key penalties and unexpected special teams miscues which allowed Washington to stay in the game but, in the end, the Trojans were able to do enough for the win.
Redd lead the way on the ground with 155 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown. That’s a workload, 26 carries. Redd has proven that he’s capable of carrying that kind of load – he also showed it last year at Penn State – and he’s proving to Trojans fans that he can play up to the standards of the USC tailback spot. McNeal provided some critical yards as well – 58 yards on 11 carries.
As the Trojans prepare to enter the second half of the season it will be important to remember what the run game is capable of, as it proved on Saturday that it can be the driving force for the USC offense on the way to a win.