The Unit Breakdown: Running Backs

Takes a behind the scenes look at a couple of the Trojans youngest stars, the running backs. Tre Madden and Justin Davis are leading the USC tailback group along with Ty Isaac and Buck Allen while seasoned backs Silas Redd and D.J. Morgan are sidelined with injuries.

For this week's Unit Breakdown, it's all about the group that is leading the USC offense in yards: the tailbacks. The group features two players with no starting experience who have already piled up over 500 yards of offense between just the two of them.

It's the young guns doing all the work, Justin Davis and Tre Madden.

Davis and Madden, a freshman and a redshirt sophomore, have more touchdowns--four--than combined years of college ball.

Despite their youth, USC head coach lane Kiffin says he expected this kind of immediate impact.

"Yeah we did. We thought when he went down before last year, that was a big deal," said Kiffin. "What we had seen in practice already, he has really shown to be an every down back and a very unique running back."

Madden has rushed for over 360 yards through his first three games, averaging just over 100 yards per game.

The last guy to do that? Marcus Allen in 1981 during his Heisman Trophy winning season.

"He's a great player, and definitely just being in the same sentence as him it's awesome, but I give it all to the line and the fullbacks," said Madden.

"He's an amazing back, to come in there and do that," said Davis on Madden's play so far this season. "Hasn't even run the football before that, and wasn't even a running back in high school, it's something else. When I watch him run, I definitely love the way he runs, he's someone good to look up to."

Madden isn't the only one with impressive stats. In Davis' first start against Hawaii, he ran for over 70 yards. Compare that to Reggie Bush's first appearance as a freshman? He ran for just nine.

A week ago Davis was just four yards short of his own 100 yard performance.

"Usually freshman are known to play slow, they don't know the plays as much," said Davis. "So I definitely try to do the extra stuff, get in my play book and look like I've been here, know all my assignments"

"He's definitely very elusive," said Madden on Davis' play. "He has nice cuts, real quick feet and definitely I need to work on that."

Following the game against Boston College, Davis said the running backs are looking to make USC Running Back U once again, and for Madden, the feeling is mutual.

"We talked about it in spring all the way to Fall Camp, to bring it back and I think we're on our way," said Madden. "Like we looked at the reason why we're here, because of Pete Carroll's RBU and Reggie Bush and Lendale White and we just want to get back to that."

And in case you were wondering how the two plan on getting back to that era, it's simple. They are studying their playbook, keeping up on their conditioning and obsessing over the same NFL running back.

"My favorite running back is Arian Foster," said Madden.

"I love the way Arian Foster runs," said Davis. "We have a similar offense, a zone scheme. Definitely I try to model my game after him, because he's so good in that scheme."

Now Madden and Davis aren't the only players in this group. Veteran backs Silas Redd and D.J. Morgan are still sidelined with injuries. They may not be on the field, but they still manage to pass along motivational speeches, telling the guys they want to be our there, but for now, they're just focusing on becoming healthy.

And if the day comes when all six backs are available, Madden says he is ready for the competition, because that's what he's here for.

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