The South Carolina football program has risen to new heights over the last four seasons. Head coach Steve Spurrier is used to success, having won a national Championship at Florida, but he had a different philosophy with the Gators.
Spurrier’s “Fun ‘n’ Gun” offense at Florida exhibited a high octane, uptempo attack that put up plenty of points. Defense played second fiddle to a pass happy offense that torched the opposition.
Spurrier came to South Carolina after an awful stint in the NFL and tried that same philosophy. He quickly realized that would not work in Columbia and adapted his coaching style.
He built a balanced offense that focuses on controlling the clock and a stout defense to give them the ball back. His philosophy is now built around the running back position. Running back has been an extremely strong position for the Gamecocks during their recent success. Here’s a look at the running back stable for 2014.
Junior Mike Davis, coming off a 1,183-yard 2013 season, is the undisputed starter at running back and focal point of the entire offense. Davis came into the offense with the tall order of replacing Marcus Lattimore and played admirably in his first season as a starter. The South Carolina coaching staff had confidence in Davis coming into last fall, but his 75-yard touchdown in the opener showed the nation that Davis was something special.
Davis had seven 100-yard performances in 2013 and would have had more if he had not been slowed by injury late in the season. He plays hard, physical football, but he also has that home run speed that can kill opposing defenses. He blocks well and is also a reliable pass catcher, having 34 receptions and 352 receiving yards last season.
Junior Brandon Wilds, a seasoned backup, will assume that role yet again for Mike Davis. Wilds has provided relief for both Lattimore and Davis throughout his career. He provides a more physical option than Davis, having a four inch height advantage over the starter. He pounds the ball down the middle effectively while also having decent speed.
Junior Shon Carson is also a viable backup option. The speedster from Scranton, SC only has 64 career carries, but he changes the pace dramatically from both Davis and Wilds. He has been marred by injuries throughout his career, but he had a relatively healthy 2013 season. He has been a team player his whole career and is a valuable asset for South Carolina. The Gamecocks simply cannot rely on Davis for every carry, and Carson will be ready for when Davis tires.
Freshman David Williams is a player for the future who could also make an impact now. Williams is 6-1, 201 pounds, and he is also one of the fastest players on the team. He has the speed to break every play open. He carried the ball seven times for 35 yards in the spring game, finding pay dirt twice. Davis is the undisputed starter right now, but expect Williams to take advantage of his carries this season and compete for the starting job when Davis leaves for the NFL Draft.
South Carolina will lean on their running backs this year with a new starting quarterback and unproven wide receivers, but Davis and company will more than deliver for the Gamecocks this season.