Davis, Williams, Carson combine for over 300 yards
In South Carolina’s back-to-back losses that preceded Saturday’s 41-10 win over Furman, the Gamecocks seemed to abandon the running game entirely, to the confusion of many.
But that changed against the Paladins, albeit against decidedly lesser competition.
South Carolina’s stable of running backs, advertised from the beginning of the season as one of the strengths of the team, combined for 306 yards on the ground.
“We just had to go back to running most of the time to ensure that we could win this game,” head coach Steve Spurrier said.
Junior Mike Davis, redshirt freshman David Williams and redshirt junior Shon Carson made up the Gamecock backfield Saturday, accounting for three of South Carolina’s five touchdowns. The stable of backs was without redshirt junior Brandon Wilds, who was sidelined with a knee injury.
For the first time since 2007, the Gamecocks had two running backs go for over 100 yards in the same game. Davis edged out Williams for the title of leading rusher by just one yard, the duo running for 111 and 110, respectively.
With Davis and Wilds typically splitting carries out of the backfield already, Williams could be thrown into the mix more often in the wake of his impressive performance. With three and half years of eligibility still remaining, the redshirt freshman looks to be the future of South Carolina’s rushing attack.
And according to Williams, the crowded nature of the Gamecock backfield brings out the best in each back.
“I think each running back will flourish because it’s like a friendly competition,” he said. “So when you get in, you’re like, ‘Damn, I’ve got to break this long.’”
South Carolina’s trio of tailbacks each managed to break off a long run Saturday, with Carson’s 56-yard scamper leading the way. Williams and Davis’ longest runs of the day were 37 and 25, respectively.
But Davis bestowed all credit for the success on the ground to the unsung heroes laying down the blocks.
“Our offensive line, they had a great push up front. Those guys have been doing a great job all year,” he said. “I always give the credit to them.”
South Carolina’s rush offense came into the weekend in the middle of the SEC pack but after a strong performance, has moved up to seventh. Davis also jumped to sixth in the conference standings after the weekend.
Davis is near the top of the conference in rushing touchdowns, however. His eight scores on the ground after this weekend's performance is tied for second-most in the SEC.
Moving forward, it’s unclear whether or not South Carolina’s dominance on the ground Saturday will translate into a more heavy involvement in the game plan for the rushing attack.
Collecting several hundred yards on the ground against Furman is little to no indication of how the backs will fare against SEC West powerhouse Auburn next week.
But South Carolina’s running backs have proven time and again that they can wear down opponents with bruising hits and ball control.
It might not be in time to make a difference against Missouri or Kentucky, but in the Gamecocks’ five remaining contests , we could see the dedication to the ground game we’ve been calling for all along.
“We ran a lot more [Saturday]. That’s what we had to do,” Spurrier said. “Heck, everybody knows that we have to run more than we throw.”