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Ground game pivotal in Bulldogs, Gamecocks matchup

Associated Press Modified: October 4, 2012 at 1:03 pm •  Published: October 4, 2012
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Lattimore's importance to the offense was crystal clear last Saturday. He had just five carries for 12 yards as the Gamecocks trailed Kentucky 17-7 at halftime. Lattimore rushed 18 times for 108 yards in the second half to help South Carolina outscore the Wildcats 31-0 the final two quarters.

"If we win" against Georgia, Spurrier said, "he will have probably had another big day."

Lattimore's rushed for 440 yards this season, third in the SEC behind Gurley and Tennessee's Rajion Neal. The junior understands he'll have to step up his game once again for South Carolina to gain its third straight win over Georgia.

"My body feels great right now and I'm only going to continue to get better as the season goes on," Lattimore said. "I've just got to stay patient."

South Carolina running backs coach Everette Sands said Lattimore and the Gameoccks other runners are aware of the big numbers Gurley and Marshall have put up. Sands thinks his backs are ready for the matchup after last week's slow start.

"We came back and our guys realized, 'Hey, on any given Saturday, anybody can beat us," Sands said.

Gurley and Marshall are making Georgia pretty hard to beat this season. The two say they don't fight for playing time, eager to watch the other excel in the Bulldogs' undefeated start.

"Any time he scores I'm jumping up and down just ready for him to get to the sideline to give him words of encouragement," Gurley said of his freshman teammate.

They'll get their toughest test of the year against South Carolina. While Gurley and Marshall have combined for 964 yards and nine touchdowns this fall, the Gamecocks have given up just 388 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

The pair will be counted on even more this week since Georgia's leading receiver, Michael Bennett, tore a knee ligament in practice this week and is lost for the season.

Georgia receiver Tavarres King expects the two freshmen to embrace the challenge as they have all year.

"They are doing a phenomenal job, especially being as young as they are and not knowing what they are getting into," King said. "They have handled it well."