Published October 4, 2012 - 12:15pm
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The average SEC fan will easily see eight different running backs tote the rock this weekend in the South Carolina-Georgia and Florida-LSU games. Both games are scheduled at different times in the day, and there is no excuse for you to not watch either. Running backs will be at a premium, as all four teams will base their offense around the running game with their talented backs.
Georgia at South Carolina
Todd Gurley, Georgia: 68 carries, 536 yards, 9 TDs, 7.9 ypc
Keith Marshall, Georgia: 52 carries, 428 yards, 5 TDs, 8.2 ypc
Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina: 92 carries, 440 yards, 8 TDs, 4.8 ypc
Buzz: There is so much hype in and around this game as two top ten programs go to work. Georgia has a very balanced offense, thanks to the freshmen duo of Mark Gurley and Keith Marshall. Georgia can hit you so many ways for big plays, and last weekend we saw the duo combine for 294 yards and five touchdowns. Meanwhile, Marcus Lattimore hasn’t looked 100 percent nor has returned to pre-injury form, but last weekend against Kentucky he had his best game of the year and marked a season high for carries and rushing yards. He tallied 23 carries for 120 yards and two touchdowns; he just looked better and quicker in his cuts. He’s getting healthier and more confident.
Gurley is the best looking running back in the SEC right now, with a rare combination of speed, power and vision. He’ll remind you of Trent Richardson, who is considered to be the total package, breaking into the second level. Gurley is silky smooth on his cuts and has enviable top-end speed for his size. But his incredible vision makes his gifted skill set work.
Gurley 51-yard TD run
Marshall can break the big one and has more wiggles than Gurley in the open field, and he may have better top-end speed than Gurley, too, but he certainly doesn’t have the power Gurley possesses. Nonetheless, Marshall is a great second punch, and he can exploit the edges as well or better than Gurley can.
Marshall 75-yard TD run
Lattimore is the seasoned veteran of the SEC at running back, and he looks like he is returning to his old self, with a growing confidence from his knee injury. In Lattimore’s first two career games against Georgia, he’s tallied 37 carries and 27 carries respectively in two wins. I fully expect Steve Spurrier to feed the beast this weekend with at least 25 carries. He hasn’t had more than 23 carries the entire season, and the Gamecocks have been waiting for this game to unleash him once more.
Lattimore 29-yard TD run
LSU at Florida
Mike Gillislee, Florida: 69 carries, 402 yards, 5 TDs, 5.8 ypc
Kenny Hilliard, LSU: 53 carries, 366 yards, 6 TDs, 6.9 ypc
Michael Ford, LSU: 38 carries, 224 yards, 2 TDs, 5.9 ypc
Spencer Ware, LSU: 32 carries, 164 yards, 5.1 ypc
Buzz: LSU and Florida have the same #1 MO – run the football and establish a ground game. Les Miles and Will Muschamp gameplan around the running game on offense, and both teams will try to establish that from the first drive of the game. LSU is the #2 rushing offense in the SEC (229.6 ypg), and Florida is right behind them at #3 (224.5 ypg). We’ll see four primary backs in Mike Gillislee, Kenny Hilliard, Michael Ford and Spencer Ware the entire game.
Gillislee has been the lifeblood of the Florida rushing attack this season. He’s helped bring Florida a big-play threat that has to be respected on the ground. Gilly has shown toughness, playing through a groin injury for the last three games. He’s averaging over 17 carries per game, but I really expect him to touch it 22-25 times on Saturday. Florida will not only feature Gillislee, but they will also counter with quarterback Jeff Driskel and all-purpose Trey Burton. However, Gillislee will be the featured back.
Gillislee 38-yard TD run
LSU will feature a three-headed monster of Hilliard, Ford and Ware. Leading rusher Alfred Blue is still out with a knee injury, and he may have the best skill set of any of the four. Hilliard has been very good this season, but Spencer Ware has been really coming on as of late. Ford is the speed back who is a changeup to both, while Hilliard and Ware are used as battering rams within the offense. One major reason the backs have been so successful is fullback JC Copeland. He was injured last weekend, but Miles has stated he will play. The question is how much? Can LSU establish a running game without their massive 275-pound fullback?
Hilliard 71-yard TD run
Ford 18-yard run
Spencer Ware trucks Washington player