DALLAS -- Tailback Silas Redd could be Penn State's best defensive weapon Monday against Houston's high-powered offense in the TicketCity Bowl.
The Nittany Lions will try to play keep away from the Cougars by giving them a heavy dose of Redd and backup Stephfon Green. The simple formula:
Move the chains.
Eat up the clock.
Keep Cougar quarterback Case Keenum on the sideline.
"That happens to be a big part of our game plan -- just run the ball, chew the clock up to keep the Houston offense off the field," Redd said Saturday.
It's no secret to Redd or anybody else that Houston gives up a ton of yards on the ground. The Cougar defense has allowed 172 yards rushing per game, and playing against Conference USA competition, it's not like they've been facing the kind of strong running teams found in the Big Ten.
What does it do for a running back to see the rushing numbers against Houston?
"Smile a bit," Redd said, with a smile. "Definitely smile a bit."
Redd put together a solid regular season, rushing for 1,188 yards, seven TDs and 5.2 yards per carry. He had five consecutive 100-yard games at one point -- including a career-best 164 at Northwestern in week eight -- and in the last game of that streak he carried a career-high 30 times for 137 yards against Illinois in week nine.
Redd's season numbers would have been even better if not for an injury suffered against Nebraska in week 10. A durable workhorse who played through a stinger in his left shoulder against Northwestern and Illinois, he suffered a collarbone injury against the Cornhuskers and was limited in his final three games.
"A series of things happened on that play," Redd said of the injury. "I landed on it funny, then as I was landing on it, a defensive lineman was landing on me. So I just got all tangled up."
The injury, he noted was a sprain "where my chest plate and my collarbone meet." He had been averaging 22 carries per game the first nine weeks but had only 35 carries for 182 yards in the final three games.
Both Redd and offensive coordinator Galen Hall refuted the notion that the running back had gotten worn down after carrying the ball so many times the first nine weeks.
"I don't think I wore down," Redd said. "As a running back, you want those carries and you want the guys that depend on you to spark the offense a little bit. So I wouldn't change a thing."
Neither would Hall.
"I don't think we'd do anything different, I really don't," he said of Redd's workload. "I think Silas is a 202-pound back, 204-pound back, he's strong enough to carry the load. If it calls for him [carrying] 28 to 30 times a game, I think he can do it."
The time off during bowl preparation has allowed Redd to recover, and he mentioned he's now fully healthy.
Redd said he met one of his goals this season -- topping 1,000 yards -- but not others.
"I fumbled a lot [five times], injuries kind of messed things up for me a little bit," he said. "I wanted all-Big Ten first team, got second team. So there's things I want to work on individually [with] my goals. But as a team I wanted to be a 10-win team, and we have a chance to do that on Monday."
It probably won't be just Redd getting a lot of carries for Penn State, which also likely will work Green into the mix. The senior, suspended for off-the-field violations at the beginning of the season, came on strong late with 93 yards on 16 carries in a week 11 win at Ohio State.
"Steph's had definitely a roller coaster of a career," Redd said of his good friend. "But through everything he's faced, all the adversity, I think he's ended on a high note. I think he's going to really have a great game on Monday."
Green is well respected by his teammates, who voted to allow him back on the squad after Joe Paterno had dismissed him at the beginning of the season.
"Not only to me personally he's meant a lot, but to the team he's just been that vocal leader, inspiration in the locker room that we needed," Redd said.
All the Penn State players dealt with enormous adversity late in the season with fallout from the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Even Redd, who appears to be on his way to a superb career with the Lions, admitted he considered leaving school.
"I think when everything was first going on, I definitely had some thoughts about it," he said. "But I sat down with a couple people, and they gave me the right advice and I decided that whatever the situation may be I'll stay with Penn State."
Those advisors, he noted, included his parents, Hall and assistant coach Kermit Buggs.
"I think I kind of established my career here, had a pretty good sophomore season," Redd said. "I think it would be silly of me to up and leave and go somewhere else."