South Carolina Looks to Lattimore to Sink Pirates

Kevin KingSenior Analyst IIAugust 30, 2012

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 03:  Jeremy Grove #53 of the East Carolina Pirates tackles Marcus Lattimore #21 of the South Carolina Gamecocks during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 3, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

One down, 13 to go.

In last year's season opener, South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore averaged almost five yards per carry against the East Carolina Pirates. He had 23 runs for 112 yards.

The junior running back is a Herschel Walker type in that he is just getting warmed up on 23 carries. So why didn't the ol' ball coach give the Pirates a full dose of his then-sophomore sensation?

That's simple—he didn't run Lattimore because he couldn't.

With nine-and-a-half minutes to play in the second quarter, South Carolina was losing, 17-0. That really cramps your style for pounding the rock.

This season Lattimore is back for his junior year. The Gamecocks also have one of the fiercest defensive front seven in college ball. So, hopes are high in Columbia for 2012. 

Marcus Lattimore missed the last six games in 2011 due to reconstructive knee surgery. He has finished the rehab and is running as well as ever—in practice and during his first game vs. Vanderbilt on Thursday.

The real deal started this week against Vanderbilt in Nashville. Lattimore ran for 109 yards on 23 carries in the Gamecocks' 17-13 win over the Commodores. 

23 carries allowed him to have a good workout without overdoing it on the first game back. Another nice stat in the Vandy game was Connor Shaw's 14 runs for 92 yards.

Shaw banged his shoulder up in the first half and was uncomfortable passing. So, Coach Spurrier used Shaw's excellent legs—and all ended well.

Now that Lattimore's knee has passed the real contact test, expect a full-throttle, no-limitation game against East Carolina on September 8. That night will be the Gamecocks' home opener.

In the 2011 game, the Pirates' Dominique Davis was excellent, throwing for 260 yards and four touchdowns against the Gamecocks. Davis has since graduated and junior Rio Johnson will be directing the attack this season.

With that pass-happy attack, you would expect South Carolina to do all it can to limit East Carolina's possession time. A healthy dose of a healthy Marcus Lattimore would do the trick for that.