Redd, Lions hoping to wear out Cougars

Houston vulnerable to strong running game

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DALLAS -- Penn State sophomore tailback Silas Redd gained 1,006 yards on 195 carries and scored seven touchdowns the first nine games of the season.

But he bruised a collarbone Nov. 12 against Nebraska and was limited to just 35 carries and 182 yards the final three weeks of the season.

Interim coach Tom Bradley said Redd is "back to 100 percent" and looking to break loose Monday when No. 24 Penn State plays No. 20 Houston in the TicketCity Bowl.

"I think the rest did him some good," Bradley said. "He had a lot of carries for a young guy. He was banged up. He only played 14 plays one game, so we tried to rest him up."

Redd's injury forced him to share time with fifth-year senior backup Stephfon Green down the stretch. Green had 36 carries for 168 yards and four touchdowns the final three games.

Redd, 5 feet 10 and 209 pounds, finished with 1,188 yards and was the 12th different Nittany Lions player, and 20th overall, to eclipse the 1,000-yard barrier.

He needs just 49 yards to move into 10th place on the school's single-season rushing list.

"I think I had a pretty good start to the season and October was a pretty good month of football for me," Redd said. "I just wish I could have finished the regular season strong. Luckily, Stephfon Green was able to come back and make a huge impact for our offense and be a key factor.

"I'm just a sophomore, so I obviously have time to improve and room for improvement and I plan to do that this offseason."

He led all Division I-A running backs in rushing the month of October, when he gained 703 yards on 133 carries (5.3 average) and compiled five consecutive 100-yard games.

His rushing total was the highest by a Big Ten Conference player in October since former Michigan tailback Mike Hart racked up 903 yards in 2004.

"That's heavy duty, week in and week out, in the Big Ten, as much as we've been running the ball," Bradley said.

Penn State (9-3) has produced a 1,000-yard rusher for seven consecutive seasons. In addition to Redd, Evan Royster, the school's all-time leading rusher, accomplished the feat three times, Tony Hunt twice and Rodney Kinlaw once.

Redd finished fourth in the Big Ten in rushing in his first season as a starter after replacing Royster. He is averaging 99 yards per game on the ground, ranking him 27th in Division I-A.

Penn State, which will start backup Rob Bolden at quarterback in place of Matt McGloin, who still is recovering from a concussion, ranks 54th in Division I-A in rushing, averaging 164.4 yards per game.

Houston (12-1) ranks 78th in run defense (171.8 ypg). The Cougars have allowed more than 200 yards on the ground in five games.

"They're a little undersized compared to us," Redd said. "We've got to pound it out, and, hopefully, that will work for us. I expect a big performance from myself just to help my team get the win."

Redd believes it will be critical for the Nittany Lion to keep the high-powered Houston offense off the field. The Cougars lead Division I-A in total offense (599 ypg) passing offense (443.8 ypg) and scoring (50.8 ppg). Quarterback Case Keenum has thrown for 45 touchdowns and 5,099 yards, while throwing only five interceptions.

"A big part of our game plan is obviously run the ball and keep that offense off the field and eat some of that clock," Redd said. "They can't score if they're not on the field."

Redd said he remains committed to the Penn State football program despite the child sexual abuse scandal that rocked the university last month and led to the Nov. 9 firing of Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno.

"We're just taking it as best we can, not trying to feed into it too much," he said. "It's not our fault. Perception is perception. We're trying to hold our head high in this time and focus on beating Houston.

"This program will recover from this scandal and things will get back to normal, but it probably won't happen in my remaining two years here."

Redd hopes Penn State soon settles on Paterno's replacement.

"We'd like to know now, but I'm not a part of the [search] committee, so I don't have anything to do with it," he said. "I've just got to play football."


Ron Musselman: rmusselman@post-gazette.com and Twitter @rmusselmanppg.


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