Marcus Lattimore didn’t enjoy missing a game for the first time in his football-playing life, but he thinks it was the right move.
“I felt OK, but I wasn’t 100 percent, so I didn’t want to risk it,” South Carolina’s freshman tailback said after Wednesday’s practice.
This week, Lattimore is 100 percent, he said, and more than ready to go against Tennessee on Saturday. Lattimore is fifth in the SEC in rushing with 89.7 yards per game, one spot ahead of the Volunteers’ Tauren Poole, who averages 85 yards per game.
“It’s going to be fun playing Tennessee, got them at home, noon game, perfect weather,” said Lattimore, who had never missed a game with injury until sitting out last week’s 21-7 win over Vanderbilt.
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“Yeah, it was tough, but we won, so I’m happy,” he said.
Lattimore practiced at full speed Wednesday and felt much better than he did last week at the same time, he said.
“It was real tender last week,” he said. “It hurt when I cut off my left foot, but now it’s fine. I think I am 100 percent right now.”
DON’T BLAME KENNY
In his first start of the season, sophomore running back Kenny Miles averaged just 2.3 yards per carry on 11 carries against the Commodores, but it wasn’t his fault, offensive line coach Shawn Elliott said.
“Listen, you need to blame it all on the offensive line,” Elliott said. “If there are holes up there, the backs will get it. It’s hard to go run into nothing. We have to consistently open holes no matter who is back there. It just didn’t happen in the first quarter when Kenny was getting his opportunity.”
The Gamecocks’ offensive line was “horrible” in the first quarter, Elliott said.
“I didn’t think they were very focused and ready to play,” Elliott said. “As the game progressed, they got better in the second quarter. In the second half, I thought they played really well. They came out and made some blocks, got (Brian) Maddox a little room, sprung him a little bit.”
Maddox had a career-high 146 yards on 24 carries.
South Carolina has put itself on top of the Eastern Division, but the No. 17 Gamecocks have not come close to playing to their potential, quarterback Stephen Garcia said.
“We have a lot better football to play,” Garcia said Wednesday. “We haven’t played four quarters of football yet I don’t think. It’s scary what we can do I think if we could play four quarters of football. I think we could beat anybody. Hopefully that’s the case.”
... Defensive lineman Melvin Ingram (hand) practiced in a yellow no-contact jersey.
Defensive end Chaz Sutton (hand) remains out of practice.
A win Saturday would guarantee South Carolina a regular season at .500 or better for the seventh straight year. That would tie the school record for consecutive non-losing seasons set from 1928-1934.