I remember a piece I wrote when South Carolina won the Marcus Lattimore sweepstakes. The gist of it was that now that the Gamecocks had him, they had to use him.
They did, installing the zone read and becoming, for all intents and purposes, a running team. With the scrambling ability of quarterback Connor Shaw, and by getting big performances from Kenny Miles, Brandon Wilds, et al, USC became a multi-faceted team that could score through the air or on the ground. Even when Lattimore left, the system was still there — it just needed the back to make it work.
The Gamecocks have found him, and his name is Mike Davis. He doesn’t have the cutting ability of Lattimore, but he is faster in the open field, and when he makes up his mind, nobody is going to bring him down.
Davis rushed for 149 yards on 16 carries on Saturday, collecting 75 in one burst on an off-tackle play. As Gamecocks broadcaster Andy Demetra tweeted, nobody in USC history had two career runs of 75 yards, and Davis has done it in his first two games as a starter.
While Wilds is also potent off the bench, Davis can be a breakout star this year. If the Gamecocks want to give him the ball 20 to 30 times a game (which could save some of the wear, tear and untimely fumbles from Shaw), they can.
Georgia ran the ball down USC’s throat.
USC can borrow a chapter from that and begin extending games, which can give its defense time to adjust and regroup (which after Saturday, seems to be a problem that might exist all season). USC probably won’t face an offense as explosive as Georgia’s until Clemson on Nov. 30, but the way the defense played on Saturday, an ordinary offense could give it trouble.
The way to combat that is to run the clock. The way to run clock is to run the ball.
Mike Davis, after 264 yards in two games, is the guy to do that.