As the USC Trojans took the field on Thursday night, they had several “firsts” happening on the sideline. The most obvious was the replacement of Lane Kiffin as head coach with Ed Orgeron who took the field for the first time as the big cheese of the Trojans. Also, it was the first game that USC would be playing without Marqise Lee, who suffered a sprained knee two weeks ago against the Arizona State Sun Devils. But the first that helped the Trojans secure the win at home on Thursday was the return of Silas Redd to the backfield where he got his first carries of the 2013 season and helped grind out a win over the Arizona Wildcats.
Redd has been trying to work his way back onto the active roster all season but has been sidelined with a lingering injury. He finally got his shot at home on Thursday and proved to be a key piece of the USC victory. When Tre Madden, who has been spectacular in relief of Redd this season, left the game with a hamstring injury, USC needed someone to step up and carry the load in the running game. Redd turned out to be the guy for the job, rushing 19 times for 80 yards, both team highs. He didn’t break a run longer than 12 yards on the night but his contribution to the game couldn’t have been bigger.
With Arizona mounting a mad rally in the second half, highlighted by a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes from B.J. Denker in the span of 2:30, USC needed to kill the clock and end the football game. The Wildcats were clearly playing with all the momentum and Orgeron simply wanted to get out of the Coliseum with the win, so he turned to the running game late to churn out yardage and eat up the clock.
That was where Redd made his contribution. Needing tough yards between the tackles, Orgeron gave the senior running back the ball and he responded by gaining chunks of yardage. Once he had helped force Arizona to burn through their time outs and facing a big third and eight with around two minutes to go, Redd had arguably his best run of the night; a 10-yard scamper to give USC the first down and the ability to kneel the ball and run out the clock.
It wasn’t the flashiest performance of the night, by any means, but it was instrumental in USC securing the win on Thursday night. When the Trojans needed to end the football game, Redd was there to answer the call as he made it back from injury just in time to save the day.