Lattimore Shines in Debut

Lattimore Shines in Debut

Saturday marked the debut of several highly-anticipated South Carolina football players. None shined brighter on this night than running back Marcus Lattimore. Lattimore - a South Carolina native from Byrnes High School - was the workhorse of the Gamecock offense, scoring twice in the first half on just nine carries to help the Gamecocks build a 24-6 halftime lead en route to a Gamecock win.

Saturday marked the debut of several highly-anticipated South Carolina football players. None shined brighter on this night than running back Marcus Lattimore. Lattimore - a South Carolina native from Byrnes High School - was the workhorse of the Gamecock offense, scoring twice in the first half on just nine carries to help the Gamecocks build a 24-6 halftime lead.

Lattimore, part of a 3-way battle with Kenny Miles and Brian Maddox coming into the season, quickly showed that he deserved most of the carries. He utilized his strength and elusiveness to shed tackles, and his speed and vision to get to the holes opened up by the offensive line to help lead the Gamecocks to a 41-13 win over the Southern Miss Golden Eagles.

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier was cautiously impressed with Lattimore's performance.

"Lattimore had good solid runs for us," Spurrier said. "(Marcus is) a good back. He's been the only one healthy the whole preseason. Marcus played well tonight."

"I've never been in an atmosphere like that," Lattimore said of playing in front of 70,000+ fans at Williams-Brice Stadium. "I enjoyed every minute of it. I've been waiting on this for a long time and it finally came."

Fellow freshman Ace Sanders agreed.

"It was exciting coming out to 2001," Sanders said. "That music just gets you amped. Freshman Connor and Marcus played outstanding. We all played good."

Lattimore is used to playing in front of large crowds. Throughout his career at Byrnes, Lattimore routinely played in front of thousands in high profile games. However, he says playing in front of the rabid Gamecock fan base is something he couldn't imagine and he's looking forward to doing it for a long time.

"It's way different," Lattimore said of playing inside Williams-Brice Stadium. "(It's) way louder. The fans are crazy. I got 4 years of it."

Quarterback Stephen Garcia says that Lattimore is a tough player that the Gamecocks will need this season.

"He can break the little arm tackles," Garcia said. "You're never going to tackle him with an arm. He can also catch the ball pretty well. He's going to be pretty good for us this year."

Lattimore's first touchdown came on a 3-yard carry over left guard Garrett Chisolm to put the Gamecocks up 17-3 with 9:48 left in the 2nd quarter. Lattimore said it was the perfect play at the perfect time.

"It was an inside zone," Lattimore said of the first touchdown in his Gamecock career. "I saw it from the beginning with the way they were playing and I knew it was going to be a touchdown."

Two and a half minutes later, it was Lattimore following the blocking of Patrick DiMarco over the left tackle Kyle Nunn for 7 yards and another Gamecock touchdown. That touchdown gave the Gamecocks a 24-3 lead and had the Gamecocks cruising toward victory.

Lattimore finished the night with a game-high in carries and yards, carrying it 14 times for 54 yards and the 2 touchdowns. His two touchdowns equaled the season high for any running back in the 2009 season. Whether Lattimore will continue to be the workhorse all season remains to be seen, however, he's up to the challenge.

"I think I can (handle the workload)," Lattimore said. "I just got to work at staying consistent and work on the little things. I missed a few things tonight that I could have gotten a few more yards if I had done them right."

Lattimore couldn't help but be nervous playing in his first collegiate game. As the game progressed - coupled with some encouragement from the guys up front - Lattimore said he began to get in a better grove.

"At first I was nervous," Lattimore said. "But as I got going in the game I felt more comfortable. The o-line kept encouraging me; 'Just stay calm and play. Do your thing.'"

Lattimore knows it doesn't get any easier next week as the Georgia Bulldogs roll into town for the SEC opener for both teams in a noon showdown. Lattimore says he's got to get better if he wants to have a big game against the Dawgs.

"We got to prepare real hard," Lattimore said. "It's Georgia. I know it's going to be different. I know I got to do the little things better or it's going to hurt me."

Lattimore said that this game was everything he ever imagined.

"It was everything I expected," Lattimore said. "Everything that I worked for. It was all worth it."

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