LOS ANGELES — It was his first day back and already Silas Redd had been called on to do some heavy lifting.
As the fourth quarter ticked away last Thursday night with USC nursing a seven-point lead, it was Redd who’s number was called to get some crucial carries down the stretch.
Tre Madden, who’s emerged as the starting tailback in Redd’s absence, left the game with a hamstring injury. Justin Davis, Buck Allen and even Ty Isaac were a part of the rotation and carried the ball well in interim head coach Ed Orgeron’s debut.
It would have been easy to say Redd was the savvy, experienced vet and the Trojans were going to ride him to the finish line, but as it turns out it was even simpler than that.
“It was his turn,” running backs coach Tommie Robinson with a laugh. “He was the next guy up.”
All of the backs took turns in the rotation last week as delegated by Robinson on the USC sideline.
So with USC taking over with 4:18 left in the game and Arizona mounting a comeback, Redd took advantage of his turn in the rotation.
“I wasn’t expecting it but I was ready for it,” said Redd, appearing in his first game of the season. “I’m just glad they can count on me and trusted me in that situation.”
The USC senior had been battling a knee injury since undergoing surgery last spring. He was limited during fall camp, and when the team went to Hawaii to open the season, Redd went down to Florida to consult with renowned Dr. James Andrews.
It’s been a long time coming for Redd. With Madden’s stellar play as well as that of Davis, many questioned where Redd, the team’s leading rusher a season ago, would fit into the rotation.
Yet, there he was in crunch time last Thursday on national TV. It was reassuring to him.
It was also great for Robinson, who says even if it wasn’t Redd’s turn he may have stepped in and put the senior in regardless.
“Silas (has) done crossed that river,” Robinson said. “He done crossed the River of Jordan. Some of those other backs, they haven’t crossed that river yet. They’re at the bank but they haven’t crossed that river.”
On the final drive, Redd picked up 43 yards on seven carries and three huge first downs, which allowed the Trojans to run the clock out and not give it back to Arizona.
“(It was) a little confidence booster,” Redd said of getting the late carries. “I can play the game too. It’s a stable of running backs and we all can get the job done. I’m just glad they called my name.”
His name could be called again on Saturday when he visits Notre Dame for the first time. Orgeron has expressed his commitment to USC being a sound, physical football team that relies on the run game and he’s given Robinson the green light to play whichever back he sees fit.
That could be Madden, Davis, Redd, Allen, or Isaac. It could depend on who’s turn it is.