Thomas Brown expects more from Gamecocks backs, explains philosophy
For two years, South Carolina’s backfield has looked mostly the same in terms of talent and production.
For the most part, the Gamecocks’ talent won’t change in 2019, with one potential major shakeup if Tavien Feaster joins up via transfer. Either way there’s hope the production could in fact change.
A look at some of the more likely scenarios:
1. Rico breaks out
Since he stepped into the lineup in 2016, Dowdle has always flashed talent. He looked like a future workhorse at the very least that season. But he was ineffective early in 2017 and then got hurt. Last season, he averaged 5.3 yards, but was highly boom or bust. The staff has long wanted him to take a primary role and deliver as a feature back. He’s got one more chance to be the guy.
2. Committee all year
If Dowdle doesn’t take over, it could be more of the same. Across two years USC has had eight backs get between 41 and 123 carries, only one north of 100. Injuries have factored in, with players stepping forward or leaving the lineup. New running backs coach Thomas Brown said he’d like to rotate two guys, but circumstances might not mean the same two guys week-to-week. Freshman Kevin Harris also showed something in spring, so he could well end up a factor.
3. Tavien to the rescue
The biggest curveball is the lingering question of if Tavien Feaster joins the Gamecocks as a graduate transfer from Clemson late in the summer. If he comes to USC, he’s the most talented back they have, a 5-foot-11, 216-pound speedster. Beyond the question of if he would pick the Gamecocks instead of Virginia Tech, there lingers the finer points of his role. A former top-30 national recruit, he was at best a co-No. 1 back with the Tigers and was eventually passed. He was decently productive in an offense stacked with playmakers. Should he pick the Gamecocks, he would shake things up, but he’s not a guaranteed shoo-in to suddenly grab the top job.