For the first time since 2010, the Gamecocks were looking for a starting running back.
The last two seasons, there was some guy named Marcus Lattimore as the Gamecocks' starting running back. But with Mr. Gamecock now cutting his teeth in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers, the Gamecocks needed to find a replacement in fall camp to start at the running back position.
Mike Davis to the rescue.
South Carolina running backs coach Everette Sands announced after practice Tuesday morning that Mike Davis would be the starter at running back for South Carolina against North Carolina on August 29. Davis beat out the likes of Brandon Wilds, Shon Carson and David Williams to earn the starting position.
"We'll see all three, but right now Mike is a little bit ahead. He's going to be the starter," announced Sands on Tuesday. It's been a close competition between Davis and Wilds for the starting position with Shon Carson getting increasing reps as fall practice went on. However, Davis has been just a bit more impressive in scrimmage situations which landed him the starter's gig.
"(Mike) made a few more plays in the scrimmages," said Sands as he later admitted that all three were getting better in pass protection. Sands said that all three players could get the job done but that Mike Davis was just a tad bit better.
Who plays more in that opening game, though, is something that has yet to be determined. Sands said it was more of a "feel deal" with the repetitions between the Gamecocks running backs but did say it would be "early in the game."
Davis brings a combination of power and quickness to the tailback position. There was a reason he was a highly-recruited running back out of high school and he's got the physical traits to be an every-down back in the SEC. He doesn't possess breakaway speed but his ability to make quick cuts and use his burst of speed to get him to the next level in a hurry. South Carolina would love to see Davis make multiple 20+ yard gains each game out and the chance is there. Ball control will be a focus of Davis as he gets a larger share of the workload this year.
Here's an example of just what Mike Davis can do:
That should get you excited for the future with Mike Davis in the starter's seat. The young back was able to show patience as his blockers opened up some running room for him. His vision was able to locate the hole and his burst of speed got him past his defenders. Granted, this was a UAB team that doesn't have the speed of a Georgia or Florida but Davis can still make plays like this in this offense.
This is a great move for the Gamecocks as it gets the question out of the way as to who will replace Marcus Lattimore.
We know who has the first shot.
It's now the Mike Davis show.