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Silas Redd makes his USC debut

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

The former Penn State rushes for 57 yards and a touchdown on nine carries on the same day that the Nittany Lions open season with a 24-14 loss to Ohio.

September 02, 2012|By Gary Klein and Baxter Holmes
  • Silas Redd rushed for 57 yards and a touchdown in his debut with the Trojans.
Silas Redd rushed for 57 yards and a touchdown in his debut with the Trojans. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)

Matt Barkley turned and shoved the ball into Silas Redd's hands, and Redd ran forward, charging between his new teammates on a field 2,800 miles away from his old ones.

He picked up eight yards, churning his thick legs like a locomotive powering uphill, before two defenders brought him down.

Redd's first carry in a cardinal-and-gold uniform Saturday in the USC's 49-10 win against Hawaii was tough, each yard a struggle. But when he picked himself up, applause from a sun-splashed Coliseum crowd washed over him.

The junior left behind Penn State, where he rushed for 1,241 yards and seven touchdowns last season, in the aftermath of NCAA sanctions handed down after a child sex abuse scandal.

USC pulled off a coup in landing Redd, and Trojans fans hoped for a smooth transition.

Redd gave them one, rushing for 57 yards and a touchdown on nine carries on the same day when his former team opened its season with a 24-14 loss at home to Ohio. He also caught one pass for 19 yards.

Redd wasn't perfect. He fumbled early in the second quarter after catching a pass from Barkley and picking up 46 yards. A defender punched the ball loose from his clutches and Hawaii recovered.

But on USC's next offensive series, Redd made amends. On a fourth-and-two play, he took a handoff, started left, cut back to the right and ran 31 yards for a touchdown.

Making a name

Junior end Morgan Breslin became the first junior college transfer to start for the Trojans on the defensive line since Marcus Bonds started four midseason games in 1994, USC officials said.

Breslin, 6 feet 2 and 250 pounds, enrolled at USC in January after twice leading the state in sacks and tackles for losses at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Calif.

Breslin was active in the first half, with a sack, a quarterback pressure and tackles in the backfield.

Redshirt freshman Greg Townsend also had a first-half sack.

Linebacker shuffle

Hayes Pullard started at middle linebacker in place of Lamar Dawson and turned his first interception into a 27-yard touchdown with the aid of a crunching block from freshman defensive tackle Leonard Williams.

Pullard's move to the middle allowed redshirt freshman Anthony Sarao to make his first start.

Dawson, a sophomore who started the final four games in 2011, sat out nearly all of training camp because of a leg injury.

Conversion trouble

Kicker Andre Heidari suffered an apparent knee bruise in the first quarter and the Trojans went for two-point conversions the rest of the first half.

The Trojans failed on two passes and a run on two-point conversions before Heidari returned to kick a 28-yard field goal at the end of the first half.

Craig McMahon replaced Heidari for kickoffs.

Just visiting

Former USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil attended the game.

Kalil, who did not surrender a sack last season, was selected fourth overall in the NFL draft by the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings open the regular season Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"It's going to be fun," Kalil said. "The preseason games really helped me get used to it."

Kalil, the younger brother of Carolina Panthers center Ryan Kalil, a former USC All-American, said it felt "weird" entering the Coliseum as a spectator rather than player.

"I haven't done that since my brother was here," he said.

For openers

USC improved to 4-0 in openers against Hawaii.

In 1999, the Trojans won, 62-7. USC won, 63-17, in 2005 and 49-36 in 2010 in Lane Kiffin's first game as USC's coach.

Back in the Coliseum

Norm Chow wasn't the only Hawaii coach with a USC connection.

Keith Uperesa, who coaches the Warriors' running backs, was the Trojans' offensive line coach in 2001 and worked with tackles and tight ends in 2002.

Uperesa coached at Utah, Nevada Las Vegas and Nicholls State before joining Chow in Honolulu.

Quick hits

Wristbands emblazoned with "Trojan Pride 55" were distributed to 80,000 fans in honor of the late Junior Seau. "#RIP 55" was stenciled at the 15-yard line on the USC sideline. A moment of silence for Seau and former Trojans lineman Fred Matua, who died last month, also was observed…. Flags were flown at half-staff in honor of Neil Armstrong, who attended USC.

gary.klein@latimes.com

baxter.holmes@latimes.com

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