-- Live chat with Josh Kendall, 1 p.m. Thursday
Marcus Lattimore expects a close game Saturday.
If it is a close game, Mark Richt expects to see a lot of Marcus Lattimore.
The closer the game, the more youre gonna see Lattimore, Georgias coach said.
The No. 5 Bulldogs (5-0, 3-0 SEC) have seen plenty of Lattimore in the past two seasons. The No. 6 Gamecocks junior tailback has rushed 64 times for 363 yards in his two games against Georgia. Two of his five best collegiate games and 15 percent of his career yards have come against the Bulldogs
Marcus has had a bunch of yards against them, so you would think they would get more (defensive players) up there or whatever, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said. Who knows? Weve got to block and, obviously, theyve got to stop the run. Everyone we play has the same plan, really. When you only throw 15-20 passes a game, the other team cant say: Lets stop the pass. Theyve, obviously, got to try to stop Marcus and the run game.
Georgia hasnt been able to do it yet, which is the main reason the Gamecocks (5-0, 3-0) are on a two-game winning streak in this series. In Lattimores first game against the Bulldogs, the second of his career, he carried the ball 37 times for 187 yards in a 17-6 win in 2010.
He broke a bunch of tackles, Spurrier said. It was one of the most amazing days Ive ever seen a running back have.
Last year, Lattimore had 176 yards on 27 carries.
He has played very well against them, Spurrier said. If we win, he will probably have had another big day.
What chaps Richt the most is not Lattimores totals but his timing. He has carried the ball 22 times for 159 yards in his two fourth quarters against Georgia, averaging 7.2 yards per carry when both games were on the line.
They were, quite frankly, able to run the ball better when everybody knew they were going to run the ball, so thats a problem, Richt said. Hes even more effective in the fourth quarter than the first quarter because, as everybody else has kind of given away a little bit, hes still going strong.
Lattimore is coming off his best game in more than a year, a 23-carry, 120-yard effort against Kentucky that included 108 second-half yards. Running out of the I-formation rather than the Gamecocks more traditional shotgun set, Lattimore looked in the second half against the Wildcats like he has looked against the Bulldogs in the past, a throwback SEC back who thrives on a heavy workload.
We are glad that hes back and seems to be continuing to progress each game, center T.J. Johnson said. We are just excited to see whats going to happen Saturday night.
Lattimore has torn his ACL and rehabbed the injury since last meeting Georgia, but Richt believes hell be seeing the South Carolina star at full strength.
From what Ive seen from the first game to this past game, I think hes gaining confidence, and I think they are gaining confidence in him as well, Richt said.
The team that has rushed for the most yards has won eight of the past nine games in this series.
Thats one of our rival games, Lattimore said, and its probably going to come down to the end like it usually does.