Miles ready to carry the load

When Marcus Lattimore went down with a season-ending injury, there was very little question to who will carry the load the rest of the season. Kenny Miles will be the start for the final four games of his career barring injury, with freshman running back Mike Davis backing him up. Who else could earn carries the rest of the season?

It has to be a strange feeling when you are the number two guy and the number one guy at your position goes down with an injury. On one hand you are given a chance to be the go-to guy, but on the other hand you obviously never want to see a teammate that you've gone to battle with week after week go down. For Kenny Miles, it was certainly more of the latter when Marcus Lattimore went down in the second quarter with a season-ending injury in Saturday's 38-35 win over Tennessee.

Miles and Lattimore have been teammates for the past three seasons and have formed a bond that extends far beyond the football field. So when Lattimore went down with the horrific injury, Miles joined Ace Sanders and Nick Jones, Lattimore's high school teammate, by Lattimore's side the entire time he was on the field as the medical staff fitted Lattimore with an air cast. Miles was also one of the first people to visit Lattimore in the hospital.

"He was in a pretty good mood and he seemed like he wasn't too down and out," Miles said of the visit. "We didn't even talk about football. We just talked about every day type stuff like family and things like that."

On Monday, Miles joined back-up quarterback Dylan Thompson as the two players that spoke at the pep rally/birthday party for Lattimore. Despite the rally being planned just the day before, thousands of South Carolina students and fans converged on the Horseshoe on the campus of South Carolina to show their love for their beloved running back.

"It was moving how many people were out there and truly cared," Miles said. "When it's your friend it really means a lot when people come out there and show that kind of respect and love for a guy you know."

Miles is now the number one guy for the third time in his Carolina career and will be the main guy when Carolina next takes the field. If there is such a thing as a good time to lose a star player, it would be the game before a bye week. Carolina now has an opportunity to gather themselves, heal up, and turn their focus towards the final stretch that begins next week against Arkansas.

"It definitely came at a good time. We have a lot of guys banged up. We have a week to rest and relax mentally for a little bit. I feel like the bye week came at a perfect time."

With Lattimore done for the year and Brandon Wilds likely still taking a redshirt, the bulk of the carries will come down to Miles and freshman Mike Davis. The duo played a very respectable game against Tennessee considering the circumstances, but many will understandably wonder how effective they will be carrying the load the remainder of the season.

Last season freshman Brandon Wilds burst onto the scene after Lattimore's injury against Mississippi State. Wilds started the final five games of the regular season and finished the year with 486 yards and three scores on 107 carries. However, it was Miles, the Tiger slayer, that carried the load in the season finale against Clemson. Miles, who enjoyed a career-high 114 yards against Clemson in 2009, carried the ball a career-high 21 times for 71 yards against the Tigers in 2011. That earned him his first start of the 2011 season in the Capital One Bowl against Nebraska. Miles finished that game with 15 carries for 67 yards and a touchdown against the Cornhuskers. Miles believes he and Davis will be good enough to carry the load the final three games of the regular season and bowl game.

"The plays haven't changed any," Miles said. "We're still out here running and we'll be ready when the time comes."

It's only fitting for Miles to gain the starting job for the final few games of his career. After redshirting in 2008, Miles began his career with a bang in 2009, earning the starting job in seven of 13 games played and responded with a team-high 117 carries and 626 yards with one touchdown, including three 100-yard games. He was replaced by Lattimore in 2010 and earned just one start against Vanderbilt. He played in just nine games in 2011 while being hampered by a wrist injury and considered not even returning for a fifth year. After a strong spring Miles decided to return and will likely start the final four games of his career. It has been a roller coaster career for Miles, but he's just living the dream of being a running back at a major university in the best conference in the nation.

"It was very eventful, but I wouldn't have it any other way," Miles said. "I don't like boring. There's been high times and low times, but all in all it's been a blessing to be here and be able to play college football."

Running backs

Kenny Miles
Mike Davis
Joshua Blue
Blair Lowery
Brandon Wilds (redshirt)
Marcus Lattimore (out)
Shon Carson (out)
Kendric Salley (out)

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