There was one player the South Carolina Gamecocks couldn't afford to lose this season, and they may have just lost that player for an extended period of time.
Star running back Marcus Lattimore was injured on Saturday against Mississippi State when he was hit by Bulldogs defensive back Nickoe Whitley in the fourth quarter. He was taken off the field and received medical attention by trainers on the sidelines.
Now, South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier is saying he "could be out for awhile."
Lattimore had rushed for 779 yards and nine touchdowns and caught 16 balls for 153 yards and a TD coming into Saturday's matchup. The running back with the second-most carries on the team was freshman Brandon Wilds, who had a mere eight carries on the season.
Spurrier didn't appear too downcast in his postgame press conference, but you can bet he's feeling downright disheartened by the way things have unfolded in the last week.
Saturday marked the first time Connor Shaw started at quarterback for the Gamecocks since Stephen Garcia was dismissed from the team for allegedly failing an alcohol test. Shaw did go 20-of-28 in Saturday's game, but he also threw for just 155 yards and tossed two interceptions.
The Gamecocks are currently atop the SEC East (6-1, 4-1, SEC), but they have also relied heavily on Lattimore all season long. It's hard to even imagine a South Carolina offense without Lattimore leading the way.
In the press conference on Saturday, Spurrier mentioned Wilds and junior Kenny Miles as running backs who could receive some carries if Lattimore misses significant time. Miles has been out with a sprained wrist, but it's a possibility he could be ready to return to the Gamecocks in their next game against Tennessee in two weeks.
Miles rushed 40 times for 152 yards last season after rushing 117 times for 626 yards and a touchdown in his freshman season.
One thing's for sure: both running backs have some pretty big shoes to fill.