Kendall's key number: Gamecocks run for higher per-carry average

Posted by JOSH KENDALL on September 5, 2013 

South Carolina Gamecocks running back Mike Davis (28) scores on a long run in the third quarter of the Gamecocks game against North Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, SC, Thursday, August 29, 2013.

GERRY MELENDEZ — gmelendez@thestate.com

Key number: 6.0

In 2012, no team in the SEC averaged fewer yards per rush than South Carolina’s 3.67. Through one game of 2013, the Gamecocks have improved that to 6 yards per carry.

For running backs coach Everette Sands, that’s a good first step.

“One of the big things we talked to the guys about (in the offseason) was, ‘Let’s get some bigger plays,’” Sands said. “After every run during team (drills in practice), I want them to run 15-20 yards down the field, just so they can get used to saying, ‘Hey, I want this big play,’ and I think the first game was pretty good.”

Sophomore Mike Davis’ 75-yard run is the big reason the Gamecocks average was so high, but even without that run, South Carolina averaged 4.45 yards per carry. Four-and-a-half yards per carry is Sands’ goal this season, he said.

The Gamecocks longest rush of the 2012 season came from quarterback Connor Shaw, who went 64 yards against Michigan in the Outback Bowl. The longest run by a running back was Davis’ 50-yard run against UAB.

Georgia will provide another measuring stick for South Carolina’s progress. Last week’s opponent, North Carolina, was one of only 11 teams in the country to allow 6 or more yards per carry last season. The Bulldogs allowed Clemson 4.4 yards per carry last week.

Offensive line coach Shawn Elliott isn’t concerned about the Gamecocks’ yards per carry, he said.

“I look for wins, get your job done, get out of there with a ‘W’ and try to improve on it,” Elliott said. “I couldn’t even tell you what we averaged yards per carry, and I really don’t care.”

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