For Gamecocks, closing time means Lattimore

USC running back excels in 4th quarter October 3, 2012 

South Carolina TB, Marcus Lattimore (21), gets past Georgia Bulldogs safety Jakar Hamilton (23) on a second quarter run for a first down during the Gamecocks game against Georgia at Williams-Brice Stadium, Saturday, September 11, 2010 Columbia, SC 9/11/10 Gerry Melendez/ ** OUTS: AP OUT, MAGAZINES OUT, MCT AND NEWSPAPERS PRINT ONLY-WEB OUT**


  • GAMECOCKS VS. BULLDOGS WHO: USC (5-0, 3-0 SEC) vs. Georgia (5-0, 3-0) WHERE: Williams-Brice Stadium WHEN: Saturday, 7 p.m. TV: ESPN RADIO: WNKT-FM 107.5 SATELLITE RADIO: Sirius 91/XM 91 LINE: USC by 2

-- 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 you’re gonna see Lattimore,” Georgia’s 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? We’ve got to block and, obviously, they’ve 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 can’t say: ‘Let’s stop the pass.’ They’ve, obviously, got to try to stop Marcus and the run game.”

Georgia hasn’t 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 Lattimore’s 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 I’ve 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 Lattimore’s 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 that’s a problem,” Richt said. “He’s even more effective in the fourth quarter than the first quarter because, as everybody else has kind of given away a little bit, he’s 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 he’s back and seems to be continuing to progress each game,” center T.J. Johnson said. “We are just excited to see what’s going to happen Saturday night.”

Lattimore has torn his ACL and rehabbed the injury since last meeting Georgia, but Richt believes he’ll be seeing the South Carolina star at full strength.

“From what I’ve seen from the first game to this past game, I think he’s 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.

“That’s one of our rival games,” Lattimore said, “and it’s probably going to come down to the end like it usually does.”

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