The Gamecock running back room has seen its ups and downs this season, but the unit came alive Saturday against Florida. South Carolina rushed for 284 yards on the night and was propelled by momentous breakout runs.
All four running backs in the rotation contributed against the Gators. The room collectively outrushed the Gators by 202 yards. The team produced 13 first downs from the run game, which played a large factor in the win.
"I think we did some good things schematically," head football coach Shane Beamer said of the run game. "But really it just gets down to trying to be more physical up front and be the most physical player on the field."
Without a great performance from the offensive line, the running game likely would not have produced as much as it did on Saturday night. Beamer was very complimentary of his offensive line following the win.
“Our offensive line moved people and came off the ball with great physicality," Beamer said.
Kevin Harris led the group in yards, carrying the ball 16 times for 128 yards. The last time Harris ran for more than 100 yards in a game was against Florida in 2020.
Harris dominated throughout the game and looked like he was feeling like his old self again. This was the first time in the 2021 season that Harris has broken out, after he rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season.
Redshirt senior ZaQuandre White carried the ball 11 times for 111 yards. Tonight marked White’s first time rushing for more than 100 yards against an SEC opponent.
White was able to get into a rhythm early, breaking off a 54-yard rush in the first quarter that set the Gamecocks up deep into Florida territory. White’s big run came on the first play following a Florida score and quickly swung momentum back to USC.
Freshman running back Juju McDowell played his part as well, scoring the only touchdown of the group. McDowell punched it in from two yards out on a direct snap set up by White's big gain to give the Gamecocks the early lead.
White and Harris both averaged at least eight yards and redshirt freshman running back Marshawn Lloyd averaged seven yards per carry, stats that Beamer was very impressed with following the game.
"That's unbelievable, because that's a good defense," Beamer said.
Lloyd carried the ball seven times for 46 yards. Lloyd’s best carry came in the third quarter and went for 40 yards. The Gators added a 15-yard penalty at the end of Lloyd’s run, which set the Gamecocks up in a great field position to close out the game.
"Anytime you're able to run the ball for 284 yards, that's going to make it easy because it's going to open up more and more things in the passing game," Beamer said.
The Gamecocks travel to Missouri to face off against the Tigers in week 11. Kickoff is set for 4:00 p.m. and the game can be viewed on the SEC Network.