COLUMBIA — East Carolina focused on stopping South Carolina’s rushing attack, and tailback Marcus Lattimore in particular, in the Gamecocks’ 48-10 win Saturday. Lattimore said the Pirates frequently kept seven or eight defenders close to the line of scrimmage.
And so it was that USC ran 34 times for 131 yards while throwing 40 times for 397 yards. Lattimore ran 13 times for 40 yards and a six-yard touchdown.
In the Gamecocks’ season-opening win at Vanderbilt, they ran 47 times for 205 yards (including 23 carries, 110 yards and two touchdowns for Lattimore), and threw 15 times for 67 yards — their fewest ever under coach Steve Spurrier, who arrived in 2005.
Lattimore’s touchdown Saturday did give him 33 total touchdowns for his career, tying the school record held by George Rogers (1977-80) and Harold Green (1986-89). Lattimore now has 30 career rushing touchdowns, one shy of tying Rogers and Green for that record.
Most important for Lattimore, he continues to feel good about his surgically repaired left knee.
“It’s kind of weird because the way I felt last week compared to the way I felt this week. It’s just like a huge difference,” Lattimore said. “I wasn’t even thinking about my knee (Saturday). It’s feeling great. My body is feeling great. There were times (at Vanderbilt) where I was just scared to try to make that cut or try to do a certain thing. This week I wasn’t even thinking about it. I was just out there playing like I usually play.”
A year ago this week, Jimmy Legree’s brief stint in the South Carolina starting lineup ended with a benching during the Gamecocks’ 45-42 victory at Georgia. A little experience and a position switch from free safety to cornerback, his natural spot, have made all the difference for the junior from Beaufort.
“Right now, I feel like a new person. I feel great,” Legree said after scoring on an interception return Saturday. “I’m having fun out there. I love making plays and celebrating with my teammates.”
Legree also had five tackles and broke up two passes. His 34-yard return off a Rio Johnson pass thrown into zone coverage gave the Gamecocks a 35-0 lead early in the third quarter.
Head coach Steve Spurrier gave Legree a game ball.
“Jimmy Legree had his best game ever as a Gamecock,” Spurrier said.
Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward wasn’t satisfied.
“We expect Jimmy to play that way all the time,” Ward said.
Redshirt freshman Brandon Shell sat down as South Carolina shuffled its starting offensive line. Shell (Goose Creek High School) started at left tackle against Vanderbilt but was benched before it was over.
Sophomore Mike Matulis started at left tackle Saturday, with sophomore Cody Gibson at right tackle. But Shell played extensively against East Carolina — at right tackle.
Sophomore Corey Robinson saw backup action at left tackle.
Spurrier had said he wanted to get a look at his other offensive tackles, besides Shell and Matulis. Shell practiced at right tackle last week as the coaches try to determine his best spot.