Trojans finally in a rush, like 273 yards worth
Go ahead, formulate your defense to stop wide receivers Marqise Lee and Robert Woods.
Just don’t forget about running backs Silas Redd and Curtis McNeal.
“USC is gifted all over, not just at wide receiver,” California Coach Jeff Tedford said.
It was an acknowledgment that came a little too late Saturday, after Redd and McNeal had stomped all over the Coliseum and the Golden Bears’ defense during USC’s 27-9 victory.
One month into a season in which Tailback U had taken a giant U-turn, the Trojans’ duo reestablished the ground game with 273 combined rushing yards.
The output was astounding considering USC had not surpassed the 100-yard mark as a team in two of its first three games, collecting a paltry 26 yards in last week’s loss to Stanford.
“We really hit them in the mouth from the first snap,” Redd said, “and we didn’t try to let our foot off the pedal.”
Redd gained 158 yards and a touchdown in 21 carries, nearly matching the 180 yards he had collected in his first three games combined since transferring from Penn State.
With 115 yards in only 10 carries, McNeal surpassed the 110 yards he had gained in the previous three games.
It was the first time the Trojans had two 100-yard ballcarriers in a game since Broderick Green, Stafon Johnson and C.J. Gable eclipsed the threshold against Washington State in 2008.
Meanwhile, neither Lee nor Woods reached triple digits in receiving yards, which was fine with USC Coach Lane Kiffin.
“One of the things about throwing those guys the ball so much early in the year, people do what they did today,” Kiffin said. “They spend their whole week trying to take away those two guys and that opens up your running game.”
USC’s offensive line also had more than a little something to do with it.
Redd and McNeal each credited the unit anchored by senior center Khaled Holmes, who returned after sitting out the Stanford defeat with a leg injury.
Said Redd: “A shout-out to the o-line.”
Said McNeal: “They came out this week and showed who they truly are. They opened holes for me and Silas and we were just hitting them.”
Holmes limped off the field early in the fourth quarter after suffering another leg injury, but by then USC was well on its way.
McNeal provided a glimpse of the Trojans’ plans on the game’s first drive when he carried the ball on two of the first three plays, including a 62-yard gain. Redd then scored the first touchdown later in the quarter on a 33-yard run.
California cornerback Steve Williams wasn’t expecting it.
“I was surprised,” Williams said. “They didn’t have a running attack in the previous two games. But they came out here today and pounded the ball down the middle.”
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