As High School recruits, Marcus Lattimore and Michael Dyer were the top two rated running backs in the nation. Now, just a few weeks into their sophomore seasons, they might be the top two running backs in the nation on the collegiate level.
Both players had phenomenal freshman seasons. Lattimore was more impressive statistically, with over 1600 total yards and 19 total touchdowns. Dyer, while his stats were not as impressive, rushed for over 1,000 yards, but was also named the offensive MVP of the BCS national championship game.
Heading into the fifth week of the season, Lattimore is the clearly the No.1 running back in the SEC. However, Dyer is closing the gap. Lattimore has rushed for 611 yards on 107 carries. Dyer, on the other hand, has rushed for 426 yards on just 62 carries.
Comparing these two running backs is a difficult task because their coaches use them in vastly different ways. The Gamecocks will continue to hand the ball off to Lattimore, regardless of the number of carries that he has already totaled.
Lattimore has carried the ball twenty or more times in all four of South Carolina's games this season. Dyer, on the other hand, has only had twenty or more carries in three games his whole collegiate career.
Because of the disparity in their number of carries, Lattimore is likely to always have better stats. However, that does not mean that Dyer is not just as talented and just as valuable to his team.
Lattimore is a constant source of frustration for opposing defensive coordinators. This is because no matter what defense they throw at him, he continues to net positive yards. Moreover, Lattimore just gets stronger as the game progresses.
Dyer is also a source of constant anxiety for opposing defensive coordinators. Each time he takes a handoff, coaches know that it could be the play that breaks the back of their defenses. While Dyer might not receive 25 carries each game, each one of his carries make opposing coaches heart stop until the referee has the ball back in their hands.
While Lattimore has won the battle of the rankings since high school, Dyer has won the head-to-head event.
Last season, these two running backs met twice. Dyer won the statistical battle with 164 yards on 37 carries. Lattimore, on the other hand, only had 30 carries for 117 yards. It should be noted that Lattimore did have an additional 64 yards receiving combined in the two previous contests. However, in the stat that means the most to both players, Dyer’s team is 2-0 in the head to head matchup.
These two running backs will meet once again this weekend and both will probably play well. The winning team will use this game as a source of motivation. The other team will have to try to pick up the pieces and finish strong. However, win or lose, both teams will have a bright future because of the character and work-ethics of their respective running backs.
Moreover, the debate of who is the No.1 running back will probably be the topic of conversation until the 2013 NFL Draft.