South Carolina Football 2011: Evaluating the Gamecocks Running Backs
South Carolina will live and die by the run this year.
They have one of the best running backs in the country in Marcus Lattimore, and everyone knows who he is.
However, no one is aware of the wealth of depth that sits behind him.
Also, how are the fullbacks? Patrick DiMarco was one of the greatest fullbacks to every play for South Carolina. He was a blocker and a receiver... he did the dirty work.
Who takes his place? How is South Carolina looking at the running back positions? Let's take a look.
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Marcus Lattimore, RB
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Weight: 233 lbs.
Pros: Elite Strength, tackle breaking, driving feet, speed, cutting ability, ball security, catching
Cons: Durability... and that's all.
Marcus Lattimore is the best running back in college football, as a sophomore. I don't think that there is much of a debate in that regard. Coach G.A. Mangus says that he looks ready to go out on Sunday's, not Saturdays.
However, South Carolina will have him for at least two more seasons, and knowing the type of character kid he is, possibly three.
He does everything. While he isn't the fastest runner in the world, he has good speed, and you won't see him get caught from behind often.
He gained close to 20 pounds of solid muscle during the offseason, winning South Carolina's workout warrior award for the spring.
He is the type of player that can carry a team to a championship level. That is not hyperbole. Questions about his durability (partially due to his high work load and sketchy offensive line), are the only thing tapering expectations.
If he stays healthy, you could see one of the all time best sophomore running campaigns.
Kenny Miles, RB
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Weight: 197 lbs.
Pros: Speed, agility, strength
Cons: Vision, can be "Dancy"
Kenny Miles is quite the luxury to have as a back up and change of pace back.
He seems to have taken some lessons from Marcus Lattimore, because during the Spring Game, he looked like a much more aggressive back.
Instead of dancing around and trying to bounce plays outside, he drove his feet, and quickly hit the holes that were given to him.
This allowed him to gain a great deal of yards, and reminded us all of the back who led the team in yards in 2009.
Eric Baker, RB
Weight: 204 lbs.
Year: Redshirt Junior
Pros: Power, agility
Cons: Speed, durability, experience
When Eric Baker came to South Carolina, he was a highly recruited four star recruit that many thought could be the next big thing for South Carolina.
Multiple injuries later, Eric Baker finally looks healthy enough to contribute.
He is a power guy with some shiftiness, but he doesn't look to have great speed.
However, the reality is we don't know what we may get out of him, considering he hasn't seen the field much.
Shon Carson, RB
Weight: 195 lbs.
Year: Incoming Freshman
Pros: Balance, tackle breaking ability, hands, versatility
Cons: Size, strength in blocking
Shon Carson is a unique runner. He is only 5'9", but he weighs close to 200 pounds (unlike Noel Devine, who came in as a freshman around 170).
He runs a 4.44 40, which isn't what you would expect from a guy this size... however, he is a very tough between the tackles runner.
He could very well be the number two or three back by the end of the year, depending on how prepared he can be.
He will be an excellent compliment to Marcus Lattimore.
Dalton Wilson, FB
Weight: 220 lbs.
Year: Redshirt Junior
Pros: Power, Hands, Intelligence
Cons: Offensive experience, Size
Dalton Wilson is sort of a surprise. He is listed as the starter at fullback heading into the season and is relatively small for a fullback.
He has been with the team for a few years, and even took some snaps at fullback.
However, he has mostly been a special teams contributor. In fact, he appeared in all `4games.
Matt Coffee, FB
Weight: 235 lbs.
Pros: Power, blocking ability
Cons: Durability, Knee problems, hands out of the backfield
Matt Coffee has the pedigree (his brother Glen had a very brief and successful NFL career with the 49ers) and size to be a productive fullback.
The spring game showed that he can be a powerful blocker. However, he needs to show a bit more explosiveness, which could be attested to his numerous knee issues.
He also needs to work on catching the football, or there will not be much offensive production from this position.
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Of course, this all begins and ends with Lattimore, who is a once in a generation running back.
However, Kenny Miles, Eric Baker, and Shon Carson are ALL good backs who can contribute. Kenny Miles could be a starter at a great deal many schools.
The big question mark is at fullback, where the top two guys have little experience. If they show that they can be productive, and open holes for the incredibly talented runners, this grade shoots up to an A+.