The No. 7 ranked South Carolina Gamecocks are 3-0, and perhaps the best thing about the fast start is that they haven't had to depend heavily on Marcus Lattimore.
It is no secret that Lattimore is one of the best running backs and players in the country. Through his first two seasons at South Carolina he's accounted for 2,609 all-purpose yards and 30 touchdowns. He's accomplished these gaudy numbers in only 20 games.
It has already been an exceptional career in a Gamecocks' uniform, but Lattimore's workload has been enormous. He had 460 touches in his first two years, and it could argued that this steady diet of opportunities led to the knee injury that cut his sophomore season short.
This is why two blowout wins in the last two weeks were the best thing that could have happened to Lattimore and the Gamecocks. After carrying the ball 23 times in the season opening 17-13 win over Vanderbilt, Lattimore has had a combined 25 carries in the last two games.
The Gamecocks blew out East Carolina and UAB, 48-10 and 48-6, respectively. The large margins of victory has allowed Gamecocks' head coach Steve Spurrier to rest his stud running back. As South Carolina heads into a full slate of SEC competition Lattimore should be fit and rested.
The major SEC challenges begin on Saturday when the Gamecocks host the Missouri Tigers.
Anytime a player—especially a running back—suffers a serious knee injury he has some reservations about contact and cutting. Lattimore spoke about the mental aspect of recovery from his injury with Ray Glier of the New York Times:
It’s a mind thing. After your nine months is over, you have to get in your mind that you are going to be all right. It’s all in your mind. It makes you stronger. A year from now, two years from, it’s going to make you a better player.
Having three games under his belt, with moderate to low carries is a great balance between throwing him to the wolves, and taking it easy. Lattimore seems to be responding well, and he seems ready for full-fledged SEC play.
Only time will tell, but there is value in pulling back the reigns on such a valuable weapon.
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