Navy-South Carolina Preview

Potential Heisman Trophy candidate Marcus Lattimore continues to
shoulder the load for South Carolina.

Navy, meanwhile, has assembled the most potent rushing attack in
the country thanks to a team effort.

The 10th-ranked Gamecocks and the Midshipmen will surely look to
establish the run early and often as both try to stay undefeated
Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium.

After running for 112 yards and three touchdowns in a 56-37 win
over East Carolina on Sept. 3, Lattimore rushed for 176 last
Saturday and put South Carolina (2-0) up for good with a late TD in
a 45-42 victory at Georgia.

“It’s a great back and we had to keep going to him,” coach Steve
Spurrier said. “He gives us hope to make any kind of run.”

Since the start of last season, no one in the SEC has compiled
more rushing yards than Lattimore’s 1,485. His 21 rushing TDs in
that span rank second in the league behind Mississippi State’s Vick
Ballard (23).

Lattimore even has five of the team’s 21 receptions this
year.

“We know as a whole we haven’t played our best game,” he said.
“Like I said, it starts in practice, keeping the intensity up.”

While Lattimore has – for the most part – single-handedly
carried the Gamecocks’ ground game, Navy (2-0) has used its famed
triple-option to record an NCAA-leading 801 rushing yards.

Quarterback Kriss Proctor, who has attempted just 14 passes this
season, leads the team with 199 rushing yards and three TDs. He is
one of six Midshipmen to run for at least 70 yards.

“They run the triple option with fullback, quarterback and pitch
guys so we’ll have our hands full slowing down these guys,”
Spurrier said. “Their coach has done an unbelievable job. … They
just play very well and don’t beat themselves. They know how to run
the ball.”

The Midshipmen, who haven’t started 3-0 since 2006, ran for 410
yards while Proctor threw for 100 and two TDs during last
Saturday’s 40-14 rout at Western Kentucky.

Despite winning big, coach Ken Niumatalolo was in no mood to
celebrate after senior running back Aaron Santiago suffered what is
believed to be a season-ending broken right forearm.

“He’s just a great, great kid,” a choked-up Niumatalolo said
after setting a record for most wins through four seasons at Navy
with 29. “To be honest with you, I was in a daze in the second
half. To lose a guy like that… “

Defensively, Navy has yet to allow a passing touchdown while
surrendering just 148.0 yards per game through the air. The
Midshipmen could make things difficult on quarterback Stephen
Garcia, who reclaimed the starting job after outperforming Connor
Shaw in the season opener.

Garcia wasn’t very sharp last week, completing 11 of 25 passes
for 142 yards and two interceptions. He threw for a touchdown and
ran for another.

While Garcia struggled, defensive end Melvin Ingram went 68
yards for a touchdown on a fake punt and scored again on a fumble
recovery. The Gamecocks’ 101 points are the most the team has
scored through two games in Spurrier’s seven seasons with the
school.

“We need to throw the ball much better. I don’t know how long we
will keep getting these big plays,” Spurrier said. “Basically, we
had four touchdowns from the defense and one from Melvin on the
fake punt. We’re trying to play a little bit better offensively
around here.

“We haven’t hit our best (by) any means yet, so we’ve got a lot
of work to do, a lot of coaching. Players got to hopefully learn
how to play this game or we’re going to be in trouble this
year.”

Spurrier is 42-0 against non-BCS schools.

The Gamecocks lead this all-time series 4-3, but the programs
haven’t met since 1988. Navy hasn’t defeated a top-10 team since
beating then-No. 2 South Carolina 38-21 in 1984.