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Running backs are built for speed and strength, and they're also built to take a beating.
No FBS running back will be able to survive for long if they can't take a hit—sometimes 30 or more hits per game.
While it's difficult to imagine players as strong and agile and well-conditioned as Dyer and Lattimore tiring out or getting injured, it does unfortunately happen in football.
The real danger with Lattimore accounting for such a high percentage of his team's output is that South Carolina may run into a situation where it runs into an opponent who is able to contain Lattimore, or, worse yet Lattmore tweaks an ankle, pulls a groin, sprains a knee.
Those risks increase the more he carries the ball. And South Carolina likes to run the ball (more than 54 percent of South Carolina's offensive yards come on the ground).
The SEC is not a conference of push-over defenses. Any running back in the conference must be prepared for punishing hits.
The loss of Lattimore—even a brief one—could easily stall the Gamecocks' offense, and event he loss of a few series could spell defeat for the SEC-East favorite this season.
As for Auburn, so far this season the Tigers have been less of a “one trick pony.” There are a number of options on offense, and Gene Chizik seems apt to exercise any option he has available this season. Compared to South Carolina, Auburn's run game accounts for far less of the total offense—just 46 percent of total offense.
Dyer is certainly an important part of the Tigers' game plan, but he accounts for just 62.01 percent of Auburn's rushing attack, and less than three out of every ten Auburn yards come from Dyer (28.49 percent).
So why is this a benefit for Dyer?
Most importantly, it allows the Tigers to keep Dyer relatively rested during games. There are enough options on offense for Auburn that Dyer isn't needed on nearly every play. Heading into November, it's a huge benefit to have a back that isn't running on empty.
The final stat that's of major importance when it comes to determining overall success of a running back is yards per carry.
While Lattimore sports an impressive 5.71 yards per carry average, Dyer is more than a full yard ahead of his counterpart at Carolina.
Michael Dyer has faced some big, stout defenses, and has still managed a 6.87 yards per carry average. That's downright jaw-dropping, considering the level of competition thus far in the 2011 season.
If both Dyer and Lattimore play for their respective programs for two years beyond 2011, it's possible—perhaps even likely—they could both find themselves bringing hardware home from New York.
But with the way things are stacking up now, Dyer will likely be the first of these two backs to strike the famous pose.