August 26, 2013

Carolina Countdown: Running Backs

How much a year can change the aspect of a team, yet alone how one individual can change the aspect and appearance of a team.

These two teams, North Carolina and South Carolina, can agree on one thing though. Is that this upcoming season, these two will be looking for a new featured back in their offense to take over two very talented running backs from last year.

As everyone knows, North Carolina lost to the NFL draft last year, being drafted in the second round by the Cincinnati Bengals.

The South Carolina Gamecocks also lost featured back[db]Marcus Lattimore, due to severe injuries in his career and now taking a chance in the NFL after a long rehab.

Now, both teams, will be searching for another featured back in their offense that can carry the load for their offense come Thursday night, where there's a chance for a few players to make a name for themselves on the big stage.

Let's take a look at who will be in the backfield Thursday night for the battle of the Carolina's.


North Carolina

North Carolina, as mentioned before, will have to move on from their All American athlete in Bernard, but North Carolina might not have to miss too much of a beat when it comes to their backfield.

Senior A.J. Blue{/db] will be the lead back coming in for the Tar Heels, as he has the experience that will be needed for such a big game.

Last year, Blue had 82 carries for 433 yards and nine touchdowns, seeing a lot of action near the goal line. However, he will be depended on being the bruiser running back in Fedora's offense this year.

The other running back that will provide the outside threat with speed will be [db]Romar Morris, the speedster on the edge that can provide that "out of the backfield" receiver and runner.

Last year, Morris had 69 carries for 386 yards and two touchdowns, while also provide 12 receptions for 204 yards.

These two will be the names that one will here when talking about North Carolina rushing, as they will have to provide some type of run attack against the stiff defensive line of South Carolina.

If North Carolina can prove any type of run game, it should be a positive, but could use more of Morris out of the backfield as a receiver more or less.


South Carolina

The Gamecocks will also be looking to replace one of their top running backs from last year in Lattimore, and for right now, it seems to be Mike Davis who will get the projected start against the Tar Heels. Gamecock Central has reported that Davis sealed the starting job with an impressive performance in the final scrimmage, rushing four times for 53 yards and outdistancing the competition by a wide margin.

Davis was a freshman last year but was able to provide the speed for the Gamecocks that they were looking for out of the backfield. Last year alone, he had 52 carries for 275 yards and two touchdowns, averaging almost 5.3 yards per carry.

With his speed and the offensive line, who are one of the biggest in the country, USC will look at Davis to provide what was lost with Lattimore by taking the pressure off Shaw and to slow down the UNC offense by using the clock.

However, South Carolina will look at others that have show some skills in the backfield over the offseason, as Brandon Wilds, Shon Carson, and David Williams could also see the field, especially Carson early in the game possibly.


Advantage

Both teams will be looking for a spark and will seemingly starting on a new path this season; trying to figure out how these talented running backs can fit in each system.

Morris and Blue have the experience and with the way the Tar Heels play, could be used in multiple aspects of the game, especially out in space with Morris (which one could have seen against Louisville last year), while Blue will have the responsibility to prove some surge up field with his bruising ability.

Davis can certainly provide the speed that the Gamecocks will be looking for and will take the pressure off Shaw and the other receivers. With the running ability by Shaw at quarterback and Davis' speed on the outside, there could be a dynamic duo brewing down in South Carolina.

However, which ever team can provide some type of running ability against the other defense, whether it is out in space or up the middle in the trenches, certainly will have a better opportunity of coming away with the victory next Thursday.

The run game between these two teams could be the quiet aspect that no one is looking at coming in, but could be a big part in determining the winner.


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