News of star running back Silas Redd leaving Penn State for USC isn’t a shock, but it will be a blow to a Nittany Lion offense that already figured to be challenged even with Redd.
The 5-10, 200-pound Redd—who is on the Doak Walker watch list–was primed to be the team’s top offensive playmaker this fall for an offense that again figured to struggle, especially through the air.
Redd ranked fourth in the Big Ten last season in rushing, averaging 95.5 yards per game after carrying 244 times for 1,241 yards and seven touchdowns. He also caught nine passes. As a freshman in 2010, Redd ran for 437 yards.
Redd becomes the highest profile player to leave Penn State after NCAA sanctions were announced. Part of those sanctions stated any Nittany Lion could transfer to any school in the nation and be immediately eligible. Players have until the start of training camp on August 6 to decide if they will remain this season or transfer like Redd. Backup safety Tim Buckley recently announced he will transfer to N.C. State, becoming the first Penn State to make a move.
Without Redd, Penn State will turn to seniors Curtis Dukes and Derek Day along with sophomore Bill Belton to run the ball. Dukes is a big, physical back who ran for 237 yards rushing in 2011. He missed spring drills working on his grades.
Day and Belton are more swift runners. Day ran seven times for 27 yards last season while serving mostly as a special teams player. Belton moved from receiver to tailback in the spring. He was a key component of the team’s “Wildcat” formation last season, running 13 times for 65 yards. The Nittany Lion backs will work behind a line that has just one starter back.
No doubt, the Nittany Lion attack could have used Redd’s considerable talents as the offense adapts to the new pro scheme of coach Bill O’Brien. Last season, Penn State ranked 11th in the Big Ten in scoring (19.3 ppg). Thanks largely to Redd, the rushing attack finished eighth in the conference (165.4 ypg). The passing offense ranked ninth (177.0 ypg).
Redd’s presence would have taken pressure off senior quarterback Matt McGloin, who best can be described as pedestrian and will work with a receiving corps that’s a work-in-progress. Last year, he hit 125-of-231 passes (54.1 percent) for 1,571 yards with eight touchdowns and five interceptions. Top backup Rob Bolden presumably will transfer, as he no longer is listed on the roster.
The arrival of Redd will give the Trojans a big-time back who will command the attention of defenses, opening up room to pass for star quarterback Matt Barkley. And that will strengthen USC’s bid to advance to the BCS title game.
Penn State? It will battle for respectability as it begins dealing with severe NCAA sanctions that figure to cripple the program on the field for years. And life for the offense just got much more difficult without Redd in the backfield.
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