The success of South Carolina's offense relies heavily on running back Marcus Lattimore, but the Gamecocks' starting ball-carrier may not be ready to go this weekend against the Florida Gators.
UPDATE: Saturday, October 20, 3:00 p.m. ET by Donald Wood
South Carolina Gamecocks’ star running back Marcus Lattimore was questionable coming into this week, but is on the field Saturday afternoon getting ready for action.
Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples is reporting on Lattimore’s pre-game actions:
Marcus Lattimore is out on the field in full pads, going through warm-ups.— Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples) October 20, 2012
If you are a Gamecocks fan, there is little doubt that this is the best news of the day. Lattimore is an absolute beast, and South Carolina is better when he is on the field.
---End of Update---
According to The State reporter Josh Kendall, Lattimore may not play at all:
Marcus Lattimore (hip) may not play against Gators, Spurrier said. Kenny Miles expected to start.— Josh Kendall (@JoshatTheState) October 17, 2012
The Post and Courier reporter Darryl Slater followed that with more insight from Steve Spurrier:
Spurrier: "There's probably a good chance Kenny (Miles) will end up starting the game. We'll see how Marcus is by the weekend."— Darryl Slater (@DarrylSlater) October 17, 2012
Even if Lattimore does wind up seeing the field, it doesn't look like he's going to be 100 percent. In a game versus one of the nation's most daunting defenses, that could spell trouble for Spurrier's squad.
Lattimore has 584 yards and 10 touchdowns on the season. He also has 156 receiving yards, and his 22 receptions lead the team.
Without Lattimore, South Carolina could be headed for a second straight loss. Florida boasts the No. 6 scoring defense in the nation, which could look even better against a Lattimore-less Gamecocks squad.
His potential replacement, Kenny Miles, has 27 carries for 100 yards this year. He broke a 17-yard touchdown run against Kentucky, but his successes have been few and far between.
If Lattimore cannot go, more responsibility will be placed on junior quarterback Connor Shaw. While Shaw provides solid dual-threat ability, he has not proved himself capable of winning a game on his own. Against LSU last week, he threw two interceptions and struggled through most of the game.
Saturday's matchup is huge for both teams. Florida is trying to establish itself as the SEC East's best team, and South Carolina is trying to remain afloat in the conference race.
Losing Lattimore wouldn't make defeating the Gators impossible, but it would be a massive blow to the Gamecocks' hopes.
Stay tuned for more updates.