Penn State turns running game over to Redd zone

Penn State turns running game over to Redd zone

Published Aug. 22, 2011 7:44 p.m. ET

One of the best ways a Penn State running back can get on coach Joe Paterno's good side has nothing to do with running.

So tailback Silas Redd bulked up this season - and not just because he's expected to assume the Nittany Lions' share of carries with school career-rushing leader Evan Royster now in the NFL.

Better pick up those blitzing linebackers, Silas.

''It's definitely something I can improve on - delivering a boom,'' said the 5-foot-10, 210-pound Redd, who gained about 14 pounds in the offseason. ''Just delivering a boom and stopping that defensive player in his tracks.''


Blocking, however, isn't the reason why there's so much optimism about the running game this year, even with Royster gone and Stephfon Green off the team, at least temporarily, for undisclosed reasons.

Redd ran for 437 yards and two scores on 77 attempts last year as a freshman backing up Royster. Redd averaged nearly 6 yards a carry

Offensive coordinator Galen Hall hopes the explosive Redd can take the roughly 15 to 20 carries that Royster handled last year, with junior Brandon Beachum as the backup. Beachum, who sat out last season while recovering from a knee injury, stands a sturdy 6 feet and 230 pounds.

''Silas is going to be more active, he's going to whirl and turn and might get 60, and whirl and turn and might get nothing,'' Hall said last week at Penn State media day. ''Beachum might be the more 3- or 4-yard consistent guy. We probably won't be as consistent as we were with Royster ... but I think people might think we're more explosive, because Silas might make us look more explosive.''

It's a good threat for Paterno to have in his offensive arsenal with the quarterback position still unsettled. Paterno hasn't offered any hints as to when he might make a decision on a starter between Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin.

And, as seemingly happens every year, the Nittany Lions enter 2011 with questions about the offensive line with standout Stefen Wisniewski now in the NFL, though fullback appears to be a strength with senior Joe Suhey and junior Michael Zordich.

''We've got to try to create more cracks for Silas. I don't think he's a power runner, which he pretty good in, don't get me wrong,'' Hall said. ''But I think we have to try to stretch people to make some cracks for him.''

One of the nation's top high school prospects after gaining more than 1,900 yards as a high school senior, Redd welcomes the added workload this year, but hopes to turn into a dependable, all-around back like Royster.

Royster himself was impressed so much by Redd that he said last season that his successor would soon assume the title of Penn State's career rushing leader.

''Being a complete back, because Royster did it all. He ran, caught and block,'' Redd said. ''If I can do that, I can be successful.