Impassioned Redden helps Bulls shut down UConn
Hard-hitting safety/linebacker leads ‘D’ to dominance
Published: Saturday, September 28, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 29, 2013 18:09
Jeff Quinn remembers the first time he walked into St. Francis High School to meet Adam Redden.
Redden told him, “Coach, you’re a passionate, intense guy. So am I.”
Ask UConn after Saturday’s game – “passionate” and “intense” are vast understatements to describe Redden. Buffalo won, 41-12, thanks largely to the senior playing a hybrid safety/linebacker position.
He told me in August that he had worked most during the summer on controlling his attitude. I was confused. Usually guys say they have worked most on something like “strength” or “speed.” Controlling his attitude? What exactly does that mean?
I found out early this year that Redden has a mean streak that would make Lawrence Taylor blush. See a couple players mixing it up on the field after a play is over? It’s almost a guarantee that Redden is involved.
“That’s what you love about players that play with that kind of passion, that intensity, that mental toughness,” Quinn said. “He has it.”
Quinn was quick to point out in his post-game press conference that it was Redden’s sack and forced fumble, which he also recovered, on UConn’s first drive that “set the tone” for the Bulls to earn their first win over Connecticut since 2001.
Redden, too, felt the surge of momentum.
“That big play gave us momentum and we just took over,” said Redden, who finished with five tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and the forced fumble and recovery.
He was all over the field. It was his second straight dominant game, after having 17 tackles against Stony Brook Sept. 14.
Redden made what would seem to be a foolish bet with senior linebacker Khalil Mack before Saturday's game – if Redden had more sacks against UConn, Mack had to buy him chicken wings; and if Mack (the All-American who is also the all-time program leader in sacks) had more sacks, Redden had to cut his hair.
Mack had one sack. Redden is planning on getting his wings at Kelly’s Korner in Buffalo.
Mack cuts hair, too, but Redden isn’t bashful in claiming his title as the best barber on the team.
When he attended local St. Francis High School, students weren’t allowed to have facial hair. He kept his face smooth with an old-school barber’s razor. When he came to UB for his first minicamp, guys on the team needed haircuts. He decided to put his shaving skills to new use, and he said now he cuts around 25-30 heads per week, including those of coaches.
Funny: the guy with the maddest edge on the field gives edge-ups off of it.
Redden might be silky smooth in his barber skills, but he is fiercely rough in his on-the-field persona. UConn wide receiver Deshon Foxx found that out in the third quarter, when Cortney Lester picked off a pass and Redden absolutely leveled Foxx on the ensuing run back.
The hit was worthy of SportsCenter’s Top Plays. Redden was called for unnecessary roughness on what looked to be a clean block – it was just that crazy of a collision.
“I take pride in those hits,” Redden said. “I take a lot of pride in that.”
He said he wasn’t trying to hurt Foxx, who stayed on the field for a minute as he was examined by medical staff.
“I was taught when the DB picks off the ball, find the receiver you were guarding and go block him,” Redden said. “So my thought was, go block him, and why not make it look good, too?”
Senior defensive tackle Beau Bachtelle said it’s fair to call Redden the craziest guy on the team.
“Absolutely,” Bachtelle said. “On the field, yeah. That kid’s a headhunter … I love having him on my side of the ball. Knowing that he’s going to fly around – we have a couple plays together where I go inside and he takes the edge – having his energy, I like to thrive off that.”
As I mentioned, Redden isn’t playing a defined position – he plays linebacker sometimes and safety others. The Bulls do this so they have an edge rusher to complement Mack’s speed, but Redden, at 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, isn’t built like a full-time linebacker. He is simply a playmaker and a hitter who needs to be on the field.
“He’s loving the role and responsibilities that he has, and he’s gaining a lot of confidence so he can go out there and compete at the highest level and help this team succeed,” Quinn said.
UConn finished with 39 rushes for 27 yards, and the Buffalo ‘D’ dominated the game. He might not get much publicity, but Redden was as big of a factor as anyone in the Bulls’ performance Saturday – and he deserves to savor those wings.