There’s something going on, and I’m not sure what it is.
Mike Davis is a heck of a running back. Until Saturday, he led the SEC in rushing. He was topped on Saturday when Auburn’s Tre Mason galloped for 115 yards in Auburn’s win against Georgia, and Davis was held to 54. Davis might still win the rushing title (he’s 41 yards behind with two games to play) but he’s going to have to get some help.
Davis was banged up on Saturday. He says he’s not hurt — yet it was obvious he was limping and didn’t have his usual explosiveness after he was stretched out after a 9-yard run in the third quarter. “I’ll tell you right now, I’m not injured at all,” he declared.
He was hurt, and South Carolina knew it. That’s why it made perfect sense to put in Shon Carson (Brandon Wilds had a hamstring injury). Carson responded with his first career 100-yard game, and had the play of the game when he bolted 58 yards up the middle on a draw play on the Gamecocks’ eventual lead-taking drive.
Before then is what I’m curious about. Davis has been banged up lately, but he started the game. He looked fine in the first half, averaging 6.1 yards a carry.
Yet, he carried the ball eight times in the first two quarters. On a night when Connor Shaw was overthrowing receivers and not having the same speed to run out of trouble, Davis had eight rushes. USC did get behind in the ballgame, but not so far behind it had to pass, at least, not right away. Davis was mostly ignored, though.
The Gamecocks had no problems handing the ball to Marcus Lattimore 25, 30, 40 times per game. Davis — when healthy — has proven to be as good, if not better than, Lattimore. He’s carried the ball 21 times each in two games, 26 in his season-high.
“I think when you give the ball to a running back 20, 30 times per game, it just wears on you,” Shaw said. “Also, he’s a little beat up. He’s played down the stretch and he’s had a lot of carries, a lot of hits. He always bounces back. He’s a tough guy. Why not use some other running backs when we have them?”
There are other options to run the ball, but in a first half when the passing game wasn’t clicking, runs to any back weren’t called.
Like I said, there’s something going on, and I’m not sure what it is.