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Carolina Loses Lattimore For Season; The Odds Don’t Look Good For Gamecocks

South Carolina has lost tailback Marcus Lattimore for the rest of the season after the star suffered ligament and cartilage damage in his left knee during Saturday’s 14-12 win over Mississippi State.

“Our worst fears were realized,” Stever Spurrier said yesterday.  Now the Gamecocks must move ahead with new starting quarterback Connor Shaw having to carry a bigger part of the load.

“We’re all disappointed,” Spurrier said.  “But we all realize life has to go on.  Somebody has to try and fill his shoes, and some other positions really need to pick it up.  Our offensive line needs to play better — maybe our receivers, our quarterbacks.  We all need to step it up a little if we’re going to have an opportunity at a big season.”

If you look at the numbers, the loss of Lattimore has likely already killed off Carolina’s chances for a big season.

The sophomore had 163 carries for 818 yards and 10 touchdowns rushing.  That’s the second-best yardage total in the SEC to Alabama’s Trent Richardson.

He also had 19 catches for 182 yards and a touchdown.  Those are the second-best receiving totals on USC’s team.

Lattimore was averaging more than 5 yards per touch and was accounting for 116.9 yards per game of total offense by himself.  For the season, Carolina has 2,788 yards of offense and Lattimore was responsible of an even 1,000 of that.  With one player going down, the Cocks have now lost 35.8% of their offensive output.

It gets worse.  The table below shows Lattimore’s total number of touches per SEC contest over the last two years.  See if you notice a pattern:


Opponent
Lattimore Rushes/Receptions
Outcome
Georgia 2010
38
Win
Auburn 2010
17
Loss
Alabama 2010
25
Win
Kentucky 2010
19
Loss
Vanderbilt 2010
Did Not Play
Win
Tennessee 2010
31
Win
Arkansas 2010
12
Loss
Florida 2010
42
Win
Auburn Title Game
19
Loss
Georgia 2011
29
Win
Vanderbilt 2011
23
Win
Auburn 2011
17
Loss
Kentucky 2011
26
Win
Miss. State 2011
20
Win

 

Throwing out last year’s Vanderbilt game — and let’s face it, Carolina could’ve beaten last year’s Vandy squad with Spurrier playing tailback — the Gamecocks are 8-0 in SEC games in which Lattimore touched the ball 20 or more times.  They are 0-5 in the five contests in which Lattimore had fewer than 20 touches.

The Cocks don’t just need Lattimore… they need a lot of Lattimore.

Injuries happen in football and many’s the time some unheralded backup has stepped in and surprised everyone by playing as well or better than the superstar he had to replace.  But in this case, Lattimore is more than a superstar player.  He’s a third of Carolina’s total offense.  He’s a pressure-release for Shaw.  He’s a protector of USC’s defense.  He’s a clock-killer at crunch time.

Freshman Brandon Wilds is expected to start when the Cocks travel to Tennessee in two weeks.  At least they’ll have an open date to get over the shock of losing their workhorse.

But if South Carolina is going to achieve something special this season, they’ll need to have some offensive players step up in a very special way from here on out.

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SEC Headlines – 6/13/11

1.  When it comes to Alabama’s Trent Richardson, let the Heisman talk begin.

2.  A few ex-Razorbacks have landed elsewhere after some recent “roster management” moves at Arkansas.

3.  This writer thinks the Hogs are headed toward a 10-win season.

4.  Defensive back Senquez Golson says he’s picked the Ole Miss football team over the Boston Red Sox.

5.  UM officials want their new black bear mascot to connect with children.  (So the kids’ parents won’t boo it?)

6.  Joker Phillips and a pair of his Kentucky football players experienced a life-altering trip to Ethiopia last month.

7.  This year’s UK basketball class might be the most hyped yet.  (Yes, really.)

8.  Tennessee’s football team is building character by building houses this summer.

9.  When Larry Scott tried to expand the Pac-10 — now the Pac-12 — to 16 teams last summer, we suggested folks should take the man seriously.  Now CBSSports.com has named the Pac-12 commish as the #1 power broker in college sports.

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