South Carolina Football: Why Mike Davis Is the Gamecocks' Most Important Player

Paul CookContributor IIISeptember 15, 2013

Sep 14, 2013; Columbia, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks running back Mike Davis (28) runs for a gain as Vanderbilt Commodores defensive back Andre Hal (23) closes in in the first quarter at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Gamecock fans can be forgiven for being a little confused about their new backfield threat in running back Mike Davis.

For one thing, his last name isn't "Lattimore," and in the deep South—where the strength of your faith is often measured by little more than the twang of your accent—people tend to get dodgy when it comes to sacrilege.

For another thing, "Mike Davis" isn't exactly a new moniker among Gamecock running backs. The South Carolina faithful will surely remember another back named "Mike Davis," who played the position from 2005 to 2008 in the first four seasons of Steve Spurrier's tenure. 

But here's where it gets interesting. Whereas the first Mike Davis ran for a career-high 666 yards in his first season (talk about sacrilege...), Mike Davis II has already rushed for 341 yards in three games, with 226 of those coming in SEC play.

If he keeps it up, this Mike Davis could go for over 1,800 all-purpose yards in the regular season alone. And that's just if he maintains his current pace. 

The takeaway from Saturday night's game against Vanderbilt will be that South Carolina did what South Carolina does and let the Commodores scrap their way back from a 28 to zero deficit in the second half. Or it will be that South Carolina has a dynamic duo in Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds to match their dynamic quarterback duo in Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson.

Or, perhaps even more likely, the hype will continue to follow Jadeveon Clowney and the defense's (supposed) fall from preseason grace and hyped-up expectations.

But the real story from South Carolina's 35 to 25 home field defeat of Vandy should be that the SEC has a new threat in Mike Davis. He is a clutch running back, and he'll continue to provide plenty of shock and awe in tight games this season, just as he did last week in the Gamecocks' emotional loss in Athens.

South Carolina has this week off. They return next weekend to take on the University of Central Florida. Look for Mike Davis to have an absolutely huge game against the Knights on September 28th in Orlando.