This offseason, the South Carolina Gamecocks and head coach Steve Spurrier faced a difficult task of replacing the production of current San Francisco 49ers player Marcus Lattimore at running back after he opted for the NFL Draft going into 2013.
Spurrier has found his answer through the explosive big-play potential of running back Mike Davis early this season.
After busting down the door early against North Carolina in Week 1 in which he rushed for 12 carries for 115 yards, including a 75-yard gallop against the Tar Heels, Davis followed up suit with a sensational game against Georgia, deep-frying the Dawgs on 16 carries for 150 yards, featuring another 75-yard scamper in back-to-back weeks.
In Saturday’s 35-25 win over Vanderbilt, Davis rushed for 77 yards on 17 carries, one touchdown and caught a key 38-yard screen pass that was instrumental in the Gamecocks’ second touchdown drive.
The 5-foot-9, 215-pound sophomore, brother of former Clemson standout running back James Davis, is averaging 7.6 yards a carry through three games in 2013 with 45 carries for 341 yards, 226 in SEC play, and is tied for second in the SEC with three rushing touchdowns this season. This is pretty impressive considering that he has played three consecutive BCS opponents so far this season.
A player that is well-rounded and thick as a running back, Davis is impressing defenders and fans around the nation with his quick burst and giddy-up downfield in the second level. Davis possesses great balance bursting through running lanes within the tackles and can make linebackers miss in the open field, which allows him to break open to hit the home run.
He is also bringing an added wrinkle as a threat out of the backfield in the Gamecocks’ passing game for dual-threat quarterback Connor Shaw in their read-option offense.
Davis has all the size and ability that you want in a premier back in the SEC. He is part of a dynamic duo with Brandon Wilds and with the duo of Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson at quarterback, it is going to be difficult for anyone to game plan or scheme against this powerful USC offensive attack in 2013.
No, he is not Lattimore, but Davis is proving himself to be an elite running back in the SEC and throughout college football.