South Carolina knows it has question marks at tailback with its three leading rushers from 2019 having all graduated. Those worries were compounded when highly touted freshman Marshawn Lloyd went down with a knee injury. The coaches loved what they saw from Lloyd in both the spring and the first few days of fall camp. Now with him sidelined for the season, who will step up in the Gamecock backfield?
Question Marks Surround the Gamecock Backfield
Like everything else with this program over the past few seasons, the run game has been plagued with inconsistency. Each of last year’s senior tailbacks averaged just under five yards per carry, which is a solid number. The problem was this team struggled to convert in short-yardage situations. While the solid average and totals are good for the stat sheets, the failure to pick up the tough yards when needed to sustain or finish off drives negates those positive gains. This year the Gamecock backfield will need to find more consistency. If they can, they will do so with an inexperienced group.
Gamecock Backfield By Committee
New offensive coordinator Mike Bobo has stated after the first few scrimmages that South Carolina’s run game will be a group effort. The lack of experience and a clear number one option means that multiple backs will get their shot to carry the ball. Kevin Harris and Deshaun Fenwick have gotten the bulk of the reps in fall camp. Harris is a bruising back who impressed last season with his ability to break tackles. Bobo has mentioned him as the most consistent performer in the Gamecock backfield during camp. Fenwick was down the depth chart behind the upperclassmen on last year’s team but has done some good things in his limited action.
Freshman Rashad Amos has also done some positive things, but Will Muschamp says he needs to work on holding on to the ball. Each of these guys will get their chances to start the season, with the hope that one of them emerges to take hold of the lead role.
Zaquandre White arrived a for fall camp after being the nation’s top junior college tailback a season ago. He had to play catch up after waiting on his eligibility to come through and then having a hamstring issue to work past. He averaged over six yards per carry last season at Iowa Western Junior College. White brings explosiveness to combine with the power running of Harris. The Gamecocks will need him to provide some big plays. It has been a while since this team had a breakaway threat at tailback. He had a good day in the team’s third scrimmage this past Saturday. It was the coaches’ first time getting to see him in-game action after battling through the early injury.
Ground and Pound
Bobo’s new offense worked before in the SEC during his time as the coordinator in Athens for the Bulldogs. While he has to work with relative inexperience among his ball carriers, South Carolina’s offensive line has plenty of game time underneath their belts. Led by senior Sadarius Hutcherson, the big guys up front should be able to open holes for the young tailbacks. However, just like everything with this program, consistency is the key. Solid numbers in terms of yards and per carry averages look good in the box score. If you can’t convert in short-yardage situations, it means very little in the long run. The Gamecock backfield will start the season as a group effort. If South Carolina is going to bounce back from last season’s disappointments, they will need one of their young tailbacks to step forward.