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Thursday, June 30, 2022

Football

Seeing Redd


 

Junior linebacker Phillip Steward and the Cougars defense will have to stop Penn State running back Silas Redd if they want to leave the Cotton Bowl with a win. | Brianna Leigh Morrison/The Daily Cougar

DALLAS — Three weeks off has given Penn State’s standout sophomore running back Silas Redd time to heal from a nagging collar bone injury and a fresh set of legs.

“It’s a complete 180 from how I felt after the Nebraska or the Wisconsin game,” Redd said. “I just feel much better. That time off has really helped.”

Redd, who has rushed for 1,188 yards in 12 games, is ready to continue his dominance on the ground for the Nittany Lions. The question is are the Cougars going to stop him?

“We’re preparing for the run,” senior linebacker Marcus McGraw said. “They’re a big team. We’re not the biggest, so they’re going to try to beat us up a little bit.

“We feel like the most physical team come Monday is going to win the game.”

Redd has eclipsed the 100-yard mark six times this season and was one of six backs in the Big 10 to break the 1,000 yards rushing for the season. The Cougars have yet to see a rushing attack as overwhelming as what Redd and the Nittany Lions will present.

“We really haven’t seen anybody like that,” junior lineback Phillip Steward said.

“We have to get them on third-and-long and passing the ball.”

This will not be an easy task, but it is the key to deliver UH its first bowl victory since 2008.

Redd has feasted on more highly-praised run defenses, and the Cougars defense, while vastly improved since the start of the season, has allowed an average of 167 rushing yard per game to a group of C-USA opponents that hasn’t exactly set the world on fire.

“I think any type of defense’s goal is to get an offense into third-and-long situations because then they turn one dimensional,” McGraw said.

And that dimension, being forced to throw the ball, isn’t exactly one of strength for the Nittany Lions.

Penn State’s passing game won’t be confused with the Cougars’ Case Keenum-led assault anytime soon, and it suffered a huge blow after PSU starter Matt McGloin suffered a seizure and concussion following an after-practice altercation with receiver Curtis Drake.

McGloin’s injury has forced former-starter sophomore Rob Bolden into the lineup. Bolden began the season splitting time with McGloin, before losing his spot to the walk-on junior. In 109 attempts this season, Bolden has completed just 42 percent of his passes, throwing one touchdown against four interceptions for a quarterback rating of 80.1. Bolden started eight games for PSU in 2010, the first time since 1910 that a true freshman started at quarterback for the Nittany Lions, and completed 58 percent of his passes for 1,360 yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions.

PSU senior tackle Quinn Barham feels that having a definite and assured role might produce better results from Bolden.

But can Bolden and the Penn State keep up with the Cougars?

Penn State averaged 19.8 points per game this year. It might require 30 or more points to win this game, something PSU has done just three times this season with two of those coming against Eastern Michigan and Indiana State.

Both the Nittany Lions coaches and players have said that their best chance to match the Cougars’ fast-paced offense is to keep it off of the field.

If the Cougars can contain the Nittany Lions’ rushing attack, they should earn Tony Levine his first victory as head coach.

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