South Carolina is preparing to move on without star running back Marcus Lattimore this week as the Gamecocks get ready to battle with the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Stepping up in Lattimore's absence will be senior Kenny Miles and freshman Mike Davis. Miles will start for South Carolina this weekend while Davis will be the number two running back behind him. Davis is the team's third leading rusher with 157 yards on 24 attempts for an average of 6.5 yards per carry with one touchdown. Miles is right behind Davis with 149 yards on 42 attempts for an average of 3.5 yards per carry and one touchdown.
Sophomore Brandon Wilds has been held out all season long as the coaches would prefer to redshirt him, but Wilds will dress and be available for the Gamecocks this weekend.
Coach Sands is comfortable with his options at running back but does envision a different workload than you would normally see with Lattimore in the mix.
"I think it is going to be more a split than with Marcus," said Coach Sands. "In my mind, it's probably more 60/40 than Marcus was an 80/20 but I'm looking for both of them to step up and do some things."
Freshman Mike Davis may not have the experience that Miles has but he's definitely worked on the little things to get more prepared for the rigors of college football. One area that most freshman running backs struggle in is pass blocking in the backfield. Davis says he's gotten much better in that area as the season has progressed.
"I would say the biggest improvement has been in pass blocking...blitz pickup," said Davis Wednesday night. "I've done a great job with it and I've got it down pat now."
A big reason for his improvement is due to the older running backs on the team like Miles and Lattimore. It also took Davis some time to understand where the opposing team would blitz from but Lattimore and Miles have definitely helped Davis understand that aspect as a college running back.
"Studying film...Kenny Miles, Latt....those guys kept me up. It was just figuring out who was coming and what formation people like to blitz out of. Kenny and Latt, they helped me out a lot with it."
Even Coach Sands said that Davis has improved his pass blocking.
"He's done much better in the physical blocking."
Which running back ends up with the most carries this weekend, and going forward, could depend on how well they are performing during the game. Sands admitted Wednesday night that he may use the player that has the "hot hand."
"If someone gets a hot hand, I might ride them a little bit more, but we'll see."
Davis knows he'll need to be ready to play this weekend. He'll likely see a larger role starting this Saturday and he definitely is looking forward to it.
"I can't wait. It's going to be fun."
-Coach Sands said that he connected Citadel running back Rickey Anderson and Marcus Lattimore recently as Anderson has suffered several serious injuries during his career. Anderson is currently in his sixth year of eligibility and was coached by Sands at the Citadel early in his career.
-SPUR Sharrod Golightly has been out of practice this week with a hamstring injury. He is likely doubtful for this weekend's game against Arkansas.
-Backup quarterback Dylan Thompson said after practice that Connor Shaw was "fine." He said he had a good practice on Wednesday and was throwing it around well.
-Bruce Ellington said he was still playing the 'X' receiver spot this weekend, which is the outside receiver position.