David Cloninger

Cloninger Soundoff: Gamecocks can find running room

South Carolina has won the past four rivalry games because of old-fashioned SEC football — running the ball and playing defense.

What’s crazy about the first part is the Gamecocks have done it the past two years with a backup running back.

Kenny Miles got his number called in the absence of Marcus Lattimore and produced each time, combining with others to post team totals of 210 yards (2011) and 134 (2012). The Gamecocks controlled the clock and kept Clemson’s explosive offense off the field.

This year, they want to do the same, and they have a bonus. This year, not only is the starter healthy, the other guys are healthy, too.

Mike Davis, after sitting out the Coastal Carolina game, brings 1,112 rushing yards into the game. Shon Carson has 254, of which 140 came over the past two games. Brandon Wilds is back to full strength after being out for most of the second half of the season. Jamari Smith had a 100-yard game against Coastal.

After them, there are Connor Shaw and Pharoh Cooper.

There isn’t a question that coach Steve Spurrier will want to throw the ball, and that will help keep Clemson’s defense on its heels. The Tigers’ front four is much stronger than it has been in recent years, as well.

But USC’s depth at tailback is its strongest, and its previous lesser-known runners did so well.