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Travis Dye addresses the difficulty of getting in a rhythm with split carries in USC backfield

Andrew Graham09/08/22
Article written by:On3 imageAndrew Graham

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USC running back Travis Dye (Anthony Scott/Acscottphotography)

USC didn’t really need to lean on any part of its offense in a 66-14 beatdown of Rice that featured three pick sixes. Though it’s not a representative sample, the carries were pretty evenly divided among four running back and according to Travis Dye, one of those running backs, this can be good and bad.

Dye had five carries for 20 yards while his fellow running backs had six for 36 and a touchdown (Raleek Brown), five for 16 and a touchdown (Darwin Barlow) and four for 48 and two touchdowns (Austin Jones).

“It all depends,” Dye said. “If you feel like — it just depends on the play calling and what’s going on that drive. But, if you break it for 40 yards or you have a 10-play stretch, you’re going to want to get a breather. Stuff like that. But yeah it does help, though, that you’re out there and you can have a rhythm, stuff like that, but you know it just depends on the situation.”

A number of factors probably led to the running back-by-committee approach in Week 1. For one, all four of those running backs are in their first year at USC. Brown is a true freshman and the other three are transfers: Dye from Oregon, Barlow from TCU and Jones from Stanford.

Additionally, as Dye intimated, game flow and three defensive scores put the Trojans in an advantageous position where the coaching staff could see what all the backs had to offer. Also, with Caleb Williams at quarterback, he took the ball and ran six times himself for 68 yards.

And being deep in the running back room will surely benefit USC in the long run, especially a position that takes so much bruising. But Dye is probably right that having some rhythm and a bell cow can be a benefit, too.