Posted by Adam Jacobi
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier announced today that he's starting Kenny Miles at tailback for his Gamecocks' game this weekend against Vanderbilt. Miles is quite conspicuously not Marcus Lattimore, who sprained an ankle in last week's contest with Kentucky.
Gamecocks fans have every reason to be nervous about this development; Miles led South Carolina in rushing last season with 626 yards, so he's not untested. At the same time, though, the Gamecocks' rushing offense was 91st in the nation last season; with Lattimore in the fold, they've been up at 69th and rushing for 25 more yards per game. More importantly, before the Kentucky game, South Carolina was 4-1 and on pace to significantly better its 2009 record of 7-6.
But Lattimore's absence is even more immediately problematic for the Gamecocks. When he hurt his ankle last weekend, South Carolina was leading 28-10. When Miles replaced Lattimore, South Carolina was outscored 21-0 and lost by three points. That's not to put the loss all on Miles -- he wasn't exactly tasked with guarding Randall Cobb, after all -- but Lattimore's effect on a game can't be underestimated. Until the freshman's ankle heals, South Carolina's offense will more closely resemble its 2009 iteration, and that's not a good thing.