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Running attack needs Davis back

Steve Spurrier wasn’t real fired up about the offensive performance Tuesday night in the Gamecocks’ final scrimmage.

Spurrier mentioned the offensive line’s shoddy pass blocking and inconsistent quarterback play as the main problem areas.

But it’s a part of the offense Spurrier did not bring up that looks like a trouble spot eight days before the N.C. State game.

I’m talking about the running game, which is limping its way toward next Thursday night with Mike Davis leading the way in a yellow jersey. Maybe missing nearly all of preseason camp will not be a big deal for Davis, whose latest ailment is a stomach bug.

But Spurrier indicated the other night he is becoming increasingly concerned with the missed practice time for Davis, the senior from Columbia who is being counted on to carry a heavier load this season with Cory Boyd gone.

Davis was sidelined the first two weeks with a shoulder injury he sustained during a noncontact drill during the Gamecocks’ first day in full pads. Spurrier is not sure when Davis will return, but pointed to Davis’ attendance at a position meeting Tuesday as a sign of progress.

Davis’ starting job should be secure whenever he makes it back. None of the Gamecocks’ other backs has reminded anyone of George Rogers just yet.

Career reserve Taylor Rank has played well of late, rushing five times for 24 yards and a touchdown in Tuesday’s scrimmage. But the Gamecocks’ five backs combined for just 80 yards on 24 carries – a 3.3-yard average.

For all the talk about how porous the Gamecocks’ run defense was last year, the rushing offense was every bit as bad. USC ranked last in the SEC and 101st among 119 teams nationally with 113.7 yards a game – and that was with the hard-churning Boyd still on campus.

Again, maybe Davis will flourish as the featured back. You can’t knock his production his first three seasons, when he averaged 4.6 yards a carry and five touchdowns per season despite sharing the rock with Daccus Turman in 2005 and Boyd the past two seasons.

And Brian Maddox showed some wiggle in one of the early preseason scrimmages.

But the Gamecocks need to get Davis back on the field.

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