On a day that saw Gamecock fans applaud NFL-bound Marcus Lattimore, the South Carolina running backs did enough to remind people that they were going to be just fine in the 2013 season.
This spring Brandon Wilds and Mike Davis have been dueling one another in an effort to claim the starting running back spot in Columbia. Following a day that saw Wilds put up 31 yards on seven carries, it was Davis, after two carries for 40 yards, that would earn the right to call himself the starter.
"I was told today that I have the starting job," Davis said while meeting with the press following the spring game. Thus after Steve Spurrier praised his efforts just minutes before, Davis revealed that he had got the nod from his coach, Everette Sands.
While Davis heads into fall with the starting spot, the 2013 season will likely be more of a running back by committee effort than Davis following in Lattimore's heavy carries footsteps.
And that is okay.
Brandon Wilds is a capable back who beat out Mike Davis for the Joe Morrison Offensive Player of the Spring Award this year. The 6'2", 218-pound running back brings depth to the position and a hunger to get back into game action, following missing the 2012 season. He'll be able to spell Wilds and, in typical Spurrier fashion, should Wilds get hot the Old Ball Coach can ride him for a game instead of Davis.
So, as Marcus Lattimore moves on to the NFL, the Gamecocks backfield picks up where they left off last season, looking for production. Mike Davis, a shifty but hard-nosed runner, has the lead and he seems ready to help push the Gamecocks forward. Thanks to strength and conditioning and achieving his spring goal to separate from the pack, Davis enters the offseason in good shape.
As does the entire Gamecocks rushing attack. Add a healthy Connor Shaw to the Wilds and Davis duo and those three should be able to keep the ground game churning in Columbia. It might not be Marcus Lattimore, although Lattimore himself reportedly thinks Davis is the "best running back in the country," but it will be plenty for success in the SEC East.
With Shaw and Dylan Thompson as a one-two quarterback punch to move the ball through the air, Davis, backed up by Wilds, gives the Gamecocks the balanced attack that they have ridden to success the last few seasons.
Don't expect this team to disappear offensively. They've played without Lattimore for big portions of the last two seasons and that prepared both Wilds and Davis for this opportunity. Davis stepped up to grab the title, but both players seem poised to fill the void in the fall.