There have been some outstanding backs that have navigated the SEC over the past few decades: Bo Jackson, Herschel Walker, Darren McFadden, Kevin Faulk, Errict Rhett, Emmitt Smith and Shaun Alexander are a few that come to mind. These backs not only brought the threat to take it the distance on each carry, but they were strong runners capable of dragging a few defenders with them. And last night it became abundantly clear that, provided he spends enough time in Columbia, Gamecock Marcus Lattimore appears fully capable of joining the All-Time conference running elite.
There are whole lot of reasons to be impressed with this 6-0, 220 lb. true freshman. He's gained about 1250 yards from scrimmage and scored 16 times. He's leading his squad to Atlanta for the first time, and he clinched the trip with a monstrous 40-212-3 performance in the Swamp. However what's most amazing is the trust he's earned from his head coach, and his ability to withstand the pounding of some rather unfriendly opponents.
Lattimore has lugged it more than 23 times on four separate occasions. He carried it 37 times against Georgia, 23 against Bama, 29 against Florida and last night's 42 against the Gators. He's scored nine times and gained a boatload of yards in those contests, ones against the four ballyhooed SEC programs with the biggest names and biggest traditions. Oh, and the Gamecocks have won all of those contests.
There hasn't been as impressive of a freshman tailback in the country since Adrian Peterson, the Big 12 legend who looked like he should be running in the SEC.
It takes a special kind of back to carry teams to Atlanta, and this Gamecock freshman has some kind of future ahead, one that will be even better than the present.
10 Other Observations from a Beautiful mid-November Saturday:
-Enough has been said about Cecil's son. However it was Georgia's Aaron Murray who was most impressive to me on Saturday. Standing in, taking shots (both legit and disgustingly cheap) and delivering the football on time, time after time. He's got talent, guts and moxie galore.
-The term "deserved better" is thrown around a bit too frequently, however I'll do it anyway. Dan Persa deserved better. He's been the Big Ten's best quarterback this season, and one of the nation's most overlooked leaders. And while his ruptured Achilles is horrible news for the junior and his Wildcats, the fact that it occurred as he was throwing a game-winning TD against Iowa is of some solace.
-The A.J. Green College Farewell Tour is playing to rave reviews across the South.
-I stayed up to watch the Nevada vs. Fresno contest and a track meet was on instead: Colin Kaepernick with 153 yards and two scores, Vai Taua with 89-3 and Robbie Rouse with 217-2.
-I used to think that no one could love himself more than Urban Meyer. However Chip Kelly is seriously infatuated with one Chip Kelly. His halftime "interviews" are some fine examples of narcissism.
-So Notre Dame fans rushed the field after knocking off Utah? I really hope Ara Parseghian was watching the Northwestern game instead.
-Bret Bielema never disappoints.
-Taking advantage of a league loophole, I have been starting Robert Griffin at quarterback and Ryan Tannehill at wide receiver (wink, wink), so maybe I'm not much better than Mr. Bielema. However karma always wins as I spent my Saturday night watching Baylor's Jay Finley and Texas A&M's Cyrus Gray combine for seven scores on the ground.
-How about the stat line of BYU's Luke Ashworth yesterday? Four catches for 113 yards and four scores against a horrible Colorado State team. Our stats show he had six balls thrown his way, and I think it'd be kinda cool if he dropped those two on purpose, certain he'd be tackled short of the end zone. Touchdown or bust baby.
-Remember when the cameras loved to find Texas DC Will Muschamp going crazy and acting the fool? Wonder why they don't do that as much anymore?
I love freaking college football.