In Coach Orgeron’s first game as the interim head coach of the USC football team, he went straight to work and made sure the Trojans get back to their winning ways.
He did just that. The Trojans won the game 38-31 and put on an exciting performance that fans have been waiting for since the Pete Carroll era.
What I found most interesting about yesterday’s game was the way offensive coordinator Clay Helton implemented the running backs throughout the game. During Lane Kiffin’s era at USC, a lot of the focus was on the passing game which was quite successful due to Matt Barkley. However, last night, the showcase of the running game was truly impressive.
The USC football team has six scholarship running backs on their roster and five of them got the opportunity to take the field and run the ball.
Silas Redd, Tre Madden, Justin Davis, Ty Isaac and Javorius “Buck” Allen all took snaps during last night’s game. The only scholarship running back who didn’t play was D.J. Morgan due to injury.
The USC running backs ran a total of 219 yards on 42 attempts and recorded 3 touchdowns.
Here’s a breakdown of each running back’s performance from last night’s game versus Arizona:
Silas Redd: 19 carries, 80 yards
In his first game back, after sitting out the first 5 games due to injury, Silas Redd had a stellar performance handling about 45% of the team’s carries. It took him a while to get acclimated to the speed of the game, but he closed out the game in the 4th quarter with big runs that solidified the victory for the Trojans. He averaged approximately 4 yards a carry and had the most running yardage from all the running backs.
Justin Davis: 9 carries, 38 yards, 1 touchdown
Justin Davis, the freshman running back has been a real asset for the Trojans this year. So far this season he has ran for 349 yards on 51 carries and recorded 6 touchdowns. Last night he averaged 4.2 yards a carry.
Javorius “Buck” Allen: 6 carries, 37 yards, 2 touchdowns
One of the biggest surprises yesterday was sophomore running back Javorius Allen, also known as “Buck”. Offensive coordinator Clay Helton ran identical plays three times in a row with Allen in the backfield in the red zone which led to Allen’s first touchdown of the night and of his career at USC. Later on in the game, he recorded his second touchdown. Although he ran for only 37 yards, Allen accounted for 12 of the Trojans’ 38 points.
Ty Isaac: 3 carries, 36 yards
Earlier on in the week, Coach Orgeron praised the work that true freshman, Ty Isaac had been putting in to improve his game. Prior to last night’s game, Isaac had only 4 carries for 22 yards. Even though he had only 3 carries last night, he averaged 12 yards a run for a total of 36 yards. Isaac hasn’t had the chance to prove himself just yet, but with Orgeron as the interim head coach and Helton calling plays, he just might get that opportunity he didn’t have under Kiffin.
Tre Madden: 5 carries, 28 yards
In the first 5 games of this season, Tre Madden was the starting running back for the USC Trojans– last night wasn’t any different. However, one thing that was different was his stat sheet. Unlike his previous five games which he ran 109, 151, 102, 93 and 128 yards, respectively, he only recorded 28 yards last night. One of the reasons for this was the fact that he had less carries. It became apparent that Orgeron and Helton were experimenting with their running backs and trying to analyze how they would fit each running back into the system. As a result, the running plays were divided among 4 other running backs. Even though his contribution to the run game wasn’t as significant as his prior games, Madden had the second most receiving yards on the night for the Trojans with 1 pass which led to a 63-yard gain. Another reason for his limited carries last night was because he sustained a hamstring injury which sidelined him for the entire second half of the game.
Luckily for the Trojans, depth isn’t an issue at the running back position; however, Tre Madden has been a true star for the Trojans on both the rushing and receiving end for the offense.
With Silas Redd returning, it looks as though he will be taking over the starting position if Madden remains sidelined. If Madden returns, it’s more likely than not that Madden and Redd will split carries throughout the game. Although Davis, Allen and Isaac are remarkable players, there’s no way that Orgeron has a 5-man rotation for the running back spot.
It’ll be interesting to see how Orgeron utilizes his star running backs and how he divides up the carries for the rest of the season. If Madden’s injury is serious and keeps him out for a while, chances are Davis, Allen and Isaac will have more playing time. But with the way Madden has been playing so far this year, it’s only fair to keep him on the field and have him continue his success on the ground.
During the days of Hall of Fame college football coach John McKay, who coached USC from 1960-1975, the nickname “Talback U” was dubbed for the Trojans because of the number of top-rated players at the running back position. Coach John Robinson, who immediately succeeded Coach McKay, continued the same “Tailback U” tradition. During the “Tailback U” era, McKay and Robinson produced 4 Heisman Trophy winners: Mike Garrett, O.J. Simpson, Charles White and Marcus Allen. Years later, Pete Carroll adopted the same trend at USC with Reggie Bush, Lendale White and Justin Fargas.
Many people believe that Orgeron is trying to mimic his coaching style after Carroll. If that’s the case, then the nickname of “Tailback U” has returned to USC. If the past success is any indication, USC is on the right track.
The Orgeron era has begun and it’s been nothing less than fascinating. #FightOnOrgeron
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