Wilds, Carson and Williams fill out RB rotation
Rumors regarding junior running back Mike Davis’ health spread like wildfires. But those wildfires have been extinguished by head coach Spurrier.
The Head Ball Coach announced that Davis is expected to be ready to go against Texas A&M Thursday, despite missing some practice with a rib injury.
Davis suffered a setback during the offseason when he tweaked his hamstring.
Although Davis, a USA Today preseason first-team selection, is one of the more impactful players on South Carolina’s roster, running back is one position where an injury wouldn’t devastate the team.
Redshirt juniors Shon Carson and Brandon Wilds, along with redshirt freshman David Williams, will serve as backups to Davis, which could be key in keeping the Heisman hopeful on the field down the line.
However, the most intriguing option in the Gamecocks’ stable of workhorses may be Williams.
Hailing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Williams possesses a rare combination of size and speed. He is listed at 6-foot-1-inch and 214 pounds and was rumored to have run a 4.3-second 40-yard dash earlier this year.
“The one that had the most work was Dave [Williams],” running backs coach Everett Sands said about the trio under Davis this offseason. “He’s getting a lot of reps and is definitely getting a lot better. [We’re] feeling more comfortable getting him in there, but he’s still learning.”
Williams came to South Carolina as a four-star recruit, but redshirted during his freshman year, giving him four years to compete for playing time.
He averaged five yards per carry and tallied two touchdowns in South Carolina’s spring game in April, and could be Mike Davis’ heir apparent if he plays well this year and Davis chooses to bolt to the NFL after this season.
As for Davis, another 1,000-plus yard season could be in the stars with an experienced offensive line returning, as well as a green quarterback.
“I have great confidence in our offensive line,” Davis said. “Corey Robinson has come along well … A.J. Cann, you know that name speaks for itself — All-American. We have a great and veteran line.”
Wilds’ 486-yard 2011 season where he rushed in relief of the injured Marcus Lattimore seems like a lifetime ago. The tailback from Blythewood, South Carolina redshirted in 2012 and collected 221 yards on the ground in backup duty to Davis last season.
Along with Carson and Williams, Wilds will work in rotation with Davis, helping to conserve the running back for the long haul as South Carolina runs the gauntlet of the SEC.
Because of the depth at the position, carries distributed among the three could subtract significant time from Davis, something he’s not a big fan of.
“I don’t too much care for it,” Davis said. “Whatever coach Spurrier wants, I think everybody on the team is down for. We respect our coach a lot; you know we’ll do anything for coach Spurrier. He’s the play-caller, and we’re going to listen to him.”
Keeping Davis healthy enough to compete at a high level against late-season SEC opponents Auburn, Tennessee and Florida will likely be a top priority for the Gamecocks’ backfield.
South Carolina faces each of those teams consecutively and, depending on the first half of the season, could bank on wins against those schools to get them into postseason contention.
And an SEC championship seems much more likely with the Gamecocks riding on the back of Davis.