South Carolina Football: Statistical Expectations for Marcus Lattimore in 2012
Before the 2009 College Football season, the South Carolina Gamecocks were never considered contenders in either the BCS as a whole or the SEC. After the Gamecocks defeated then-ranked No. 1 Alabama, they suddenly became a relevant team.
Coach Steve Spurrier's troops followed this exclamation-point season with another great run, reaching the SEC title game, and in the process, discovering a star.
Running back Marcus Lattimore blew both South Carolina fans and the entire college football country away. He had a breakout season, rushing for nearly 1,200 yards and 20 touchdowns. Unfortunely, his follow-up year was cut short by a torn ACL. In seven games, he still managed to rush for over 800 yards and 10 touchdowns.
So as the 2012 season approaches, several questions are being asked about how quickly the South Carolina running back will recover from the injury. All eyes were watching to see how he would perform last season after such a spectacular showing in his first year, but no one ever got to see. By the looks of it, Lattimore's numbers were right on track to be even better.
Now the pressure will be even greater on the junior from Duncan, South Carolina, to not only improve on his numbers from two years ago but also to show that he has not lost a step.
Here are the statistical predictions for South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore for the 2012 college football season.
Marcus Lattimore averaged about 20 carries per game throughout both of his seasons. With the likes of Kenny Miles and Brandon Wilds stepping in, they gained valuable experience and may have the opportunity to share the load or come in for relief. Also, new starting quarterback Connor Shaw is an excellent runner, which will take away some of the carries.
However, Lattimore is still the No. 1 option of the South Carolina offensive attack, so he should see similar numbers to before.
Rushing Yards: 1,350
Through 12 games in 2009, Marcus Lattimore rushed for about 1,200 yards. Through seven games in 2010, he rushed for 818 yards.
This is the statistical category that completely depends on how he recovers from his injury. If he returns to his full strength, the junior can easily reach 2,000 yards. However, if he loses even half of a step, he may not reach 1,000 yards.
Lattimore has proven time and time again that he is a workhorse and a fighter. His numbers will certainly surpass his past two seasons but may not be as high as they could potentially be.
Rushing Touchdowns: 12
Before tearing his ACL, Marcus Lattimore was on pace to destroy his 17 touchdown mark in 2009. Through seven games, he had 10 TDs.
With more weapons on the field this year, his touchdown count will still be high but nowhere near what it could have been. Lattimore will still pound it in between the tackles or bounce it to the outside, but defenses now must be concerned with the other offensive threats on the field.
Without Alshon Jeffery as the receiving target and with a young quarterback in his first season as the full-time starter, the short passing game will be critical. Connor Shaw proved he can throw it down the field but the short dump-offs are what seemed to be most effective.
Marcus Lattimore is a huge target slipping out of the backfield. At 232 pounds, the running back is a force for defenders to bring down, especially across the middle and in the open-field.
He had 29 and 19 receptions in 2010 and 2011 respectively, and his receptions total will fall somewhere in between this for the upcoming season.
Receiving Yards: 360
Marcus Lattimore is very shifty, particularly in the open-field, which makes it difficult for defenses to stop him. He averaged about 11.4 yards per catch over his two seasons.
With Connor Shaw at the helm and Lattimore's involvement in the passing game increasing, his total yards will also rise.
Receiving Touchdowns: 5
Lattimore only has three receiving touchdowns in his South Carolina career. If he is utilized more in the passing attack, he will surpass his career total in one season.
With a young receiving group, Shaw will rely more on Lattimore, especially in the red zone. Lattimore will certainly increase his stock as he becomes more of a dual-threat running back.
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