LOS ANGELES – Once it was determined D.J. Morgan and Silas Redd would be left behind, USC head coach Lane Kiffin assumed Tre Madden would be his starting running back for the season opener at Hawaii last week.
In a time when just about all of Kiffin’s calls are scrutinized, there were no complaints to be made about the decision involving Madden.
Madden’s debut was quite impactful.
It came as no surprise to Kiffin, who sings praises about Madden’s athletic ability.
“He really can do anything,” Kiffin said of Madden. “He’s a unique athlete.”
Madden completed 60 percent of his passes as a Wildcat quarterback in his senior year at Mission Viejo High School in addition to being an Army All-American linebacker.
The move to running back was out of necessity, in order to help some of the Trojans backfield needs.
“It was more important than to have a linebacker to move him over because of what, really, we’d been missing at that position with a bigger guy probably since LenDale (White) left,” Kiffin said.
In the season-opening win over Hawaii last week, Madden’s totals of 18 carries for 109 yards were actually a year in the making.
The redshirt sophomore’s 2012 season and debut as a running back were taken from him before it could even get started.
He was making the adjustment from linebacker to running back just fine until suffering a major setback. He took a handoff during spring practice, exploded through the hole, reached the second level, and then while trying to make a cut fell to the Howard Jones Field untouched, tearing his ACL.
It was devastating for him but he found a way to spin it into a positive.
“I felt like I was improving every day,” Madden said. “(I was) getting the physical attributes (of) the offense. After my injury I got the mental aspect down. I think it was a silver lining. I got to sit down and see how the offense performed.”
These days when he watches the offense perform, a big chunk of it is him. Madden’s carries are something opposing defenses can expect to see going forward.
“I think in the first game he showed that (he was a special running back),” Kiffin said. He’s going to continue to show that. That was his first game (playing running back).”