South Carolina Football: Open Competition at RB Behind Marcus Lattimore

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South Carolina Football: Open Competition at RB Behind Marcus Lattimore
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

We all know who South Carolina's No.1 running back is right now.

It's some guy named Marcus Lattimore if you haven't heard of him.

There might be a few names behind him, though, that you may need to know soon enough. The Gamecocks are looking for a running back to step up and provide some depth behind the Gamecocks star running back.

The three candidates are Kenny Miles, Brandon Wilds and Eric Baker.

Miles has had the most production of the three as he came onto the scene in 2009 as a redshirt freshman and ran for 626 yards on 117 carries. Those numbers decreased with the emergence of Marcus Lattimore in 2010 as he only ran the ball 40 times for 152 yards. His best game of 2010 came when Lattimore was injured in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl as he ran the ball 10 times for 70 yards in that game.

Eric Baker is another veteran on the bench but one that has missed significant time during his Gamecock career. Baker started his freshman year in 2008 with 46 carries for 182 yards in nine games. He entered the 2009 season in prime position to take over as the starting running back but Kenny Miles performed well enough to keep Baker on the bench. Baker would tear his ACL during bowl practice that year and would also sit out the 2010 season as he recovered from ACL surgery.

Brandon Wilds is the newcomer to the group. He's a true freshman that most people expected to redshirt as he added weight to move over to the fullback position. I guess Wilds didn't get that memo.

His hard work over the summer and performance in fall practice earned him a spot on special teams with a chance to earn some repetitions at running back as well. Wilds has seen time so far in 2011 on special teams but got his chance on offense against Vanderbilt on September 24th and he produced quality output in a limited capacity.

Wilds carried the ball three times for 22 yards and had two catches for seven yards as well. The opportunity for Wilds came due to a wrist injury to Kenny Miles that forced him out of the game against Vanderbilt.

Scott Halleran/Getty Images

 

The total number of carries for a backup running back this season is 10 carries. This is between the three running backs mentioned and injured freshman Shon Carson who is out for the season.

Marcus Lattimore appears to be in better shape and more than ready to handle the heavy workload this season but he will need a break at some point and one of these guys will have to step up.

Running backs coach Jay Graham said after practice Wednesday that it's a bit of an open competition behind Lattimore right now. Kenny Miles returned to practice Wednesday night but he's still questionable depending upon how his wrist responds to the practice time he's put in.

So who gets the carries behind Lattimore?

It really seems like Brandon Wilds will be able to grab a few more carries here especially if Miles is out with injury. He's got the size right now at 6'1" and weighs 223 pounds. He showed a nice burst on a 16-yard run against Vanderbilt in the fourth quarter. He also has nice hands out of the backfield.

Eric Baker would be a nice change of pace back for the Gamecocks and he also catches well out of the backfield but I don't think there will be enough carries for the Gamecocks to spread around.

There should be a heavy dose of Marcus Lattimore this weekend against Auburn with Brandon Wilds mixed in on occasion for South Carolina.

We all know who drives this offense for South Carolina. Sometimes, though, even Marcus Lattimore needs a little break. So when he does, you should have an idea of who is carrying the football besides No. 21.

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