The South Carolina Gamecocks got their first bit of real bad news for the 2011 season on Sunday: stud running back, and focal point of the offense, Marcus Lattimore is done for the year with torn knee ligaments and cartilage damage. Getting rid of drunken master/quarterback Stephen Garcia seemed to have done wonders for head coach Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina squad until Lattimore was injured in the second half of Saturday’s game against Mississippi State, which is why it’s not the second bad news after Garcia’s umpteenth positive test.
The sophomore running back was having a great season rushing for 818 yards, a 5.0 ypc average, and 10 rushing touchdowns. He was the productive heart and soul of the Gamecock offense, partially because he’s good, and partially because who the hell else was going to do it? And now he’s done for the year.
But fear not, South Carolina fans. They aren’t dead yet, even though most experts will probably bury them very soon.
They’ll probably lose to Clemson at season’s end, but Sakerlina still has a very good shot at winning the SEC Eastern Division again and getting the coveted spot in the SEC title game as cannon fodder for LSU or Alabama. Hmmm, maybe it’s better if South Carolina doesn’t keep winning.
Both teams only have two SEC East games left on their schedules: at Tennessee and vs. Florida for South Carolina. Georgia has home games against Florida and Kentucky remaining. While it might seem like the Bulldogs have the easier road, remember that Tennessee sucks and both these teams could easily lose to Florida, especially if John Brantley is back from injury this week. All South Carolina needs to do its maintain the tie for first place, and they get to get their asses kicked on national television by LSU or Alabama.
South Carolina also has a bye week this coming weekend, so they don’t play again until October 29 at Tennessee. Plenty of time to get backup running back Brandon Wilds ready. I wonder how many fans knew his name before today?
The replacement for Garcia, sophomore Connor Shaw, has played reasonably well since taking over. His two interceptions against Mississippi State will probably draw Spurrier’s ire, but he’ll get two weeks’ worth of reps before Tennessee too. And seriously, who the hell else is going to play quarterback at this point for South Carolina?
I’m not saying South Carolina is definitely going to win the SEC East and salvage any kind of dignity from their remaining games. They’ve also got a road trip to Arkansas and the season finale against Clemson to deal with, so the only remaining game South Carolina can definitely win is November 19 against The Citadel (really, guys?). There’s obviously a very real chance the Gamecocks could finish the season 1-4 and end up in some backwater bowl game.
I’m just saying that they need to put all their energy into beating Tennessee, then hoping Georgia bites the pillow against Florida that same day. Either that or they have to beat the Gators when they show up in Columbia on November 12.
They’re not dead yet, just mostly dead.