The comparisons already have begun after Marcus Lattimore’s second collegiate game: George Rogers, Herschel Walker, Bo Jackson — all former Heisman Trophy winners from the SEC.
Of course, 182 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 37 carries against Georgia will enhance the reputation of a freshman tailback rather quickly.
“That’s only human nature. When you have a sensational game like Marcus did last week, I think that’s going to happen,” USC coach Steve Spurrier said. “He’s got to handle it. We’ve got to handle it, not get full of ourselves and be ready to play every week.”
Lattimore isn’t too full of himself. He’s flattered by the chatter surrounding him, but he’s not buying it — including the “Lattimore for Heisman” Facebook page and the comparisons to all-time greats.
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“It’s pretty cool to be compared to them. I’m nowhere near them yet,” he said. “I know personally that I’ve got to get better. I know what I’ve got to do on the field and in the classroom. Those are the two things I’m really focused on. I’m not really worried about all that hype.”
For his part, Lattimore, who had one conversation with Rogers, likes the style of Indianapolis Colts running back Joseph Addai.
“He’s a complete back, and I try to be like him,” Lattimore said. “I watch him every now and then, and I really like the things he does.”
Spurrier made his own comparison, likening Lattimore to former Florida and Dallas Cowboys great Emmitt Smith. He said Lattimore’s style, like Smith’s, prevents tacklers from getting a good shot on him at the line of scrimmage.
The other guys
With Lattimore getting 37 carries against Georgia, that left two for senior Brian Maddox and none for sophomore Kenny Miles, last season’s leading rusher.
Spurrier expects more balance against the Paladins.
“Sometimes you have games like that. Kenny seemed fine yesterday. He understands. He’ll get the ball this week. He’ll be in there ready to go,” Spurrier said.
Maddox, whose two carries gained 13 yards, also understands, although he admitted being surprised by Lattimore getting nearly all the carries.
“That’s kind of disappointing, but he got out there and played really well. He did what he needed to do to get the job done out there on Saturday,” said Maddox, who said he isn’t going to get frustrated over one game. “It’s a long season. You’ve got to go in and work hard every day, every play in practice, because that carries over to game day.”
He knows that it’s up to him to perform when his opportunity comes.
“When I get in, I have to hit a big home run,” Maddox said.
Offensive line coach Shawn Elliott came to USC after coaching 13 seasons and playing four at Appalachian State, so he is familiar with Furman, which plays in the Southern Conference with the Mountaineers.
“This is his game. We assign each game to one assistant coach. This is his week to talk a little bit about Furman,” Spurrier said. “Yeah, he’s played against them. Obviously, we have the tape of Appalachian State against Furman last year. We’ve been watching it a little bit (Tuesday) morning.”
Appalachian State went 10-4 against Furman during Elliott’s coaching tenure.
No looking ahead
Spurrier said his players didn’t need reminders of recent upset wins by Jacksonville State and James Madison over FBS schools.
“No, we don’t have to talk about that, because we know we barely got by Wofford twice when we played them. South Carolina State played us very close until about the middle of the third quarter last year,” he said.
Spurrier knows Furman will be pumped up with its opportunity for a big win.
“This is their chance for an upset,” he said. “They’re going to give it their best shot. We’ve got to be ready for anything — onside kicks, fake punts, whatever.
“When you’re an underdog like they are, you’ve got nothing to lose. You’ve got to try everything possible to get a victory. We’ve got to be ready to play.”
... USC athletics director Eric Hyman was the Furman linebackers coach when the Paladins beat USC 28-23 in 1982.
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USC holds a 26-20-1 series lead against Furman, but they have played twice since 1960. The rivalry dates back to 1892, when the teams played on Christmas Eve. It was USC’s first game.
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