COLUMBIA — No. 21 was everywhere Saturday in Columbia, if not in person.
Marcus Lattimore’s jersey number was on stickers, on shirts and his name was unveiled on new signage at Williams-Brice Stadium. The school band even spelled out “We love 21” at halftime.
Lattimore’s season came to an end Oct. 27 against Tennessee when he suffered an injury to his right knee late in the first half. In 2011, Lattimore injured his left knee and missed the second half of the season.
The junior running back was honored Saturday for his career accomplishments. He holds records for touchdowns scored (41) and rushing touchdowns (38), and he is sixth on the all-time rushing list with 2,677 yards.
Lattimore underwent surgery Nov. 2 and was not in attendance at Saturday’s game. But he sent Gamecock fans a videotaped thank you for all of their notes and support.
“I am feeling fine and working to get back to football,” Lattimore said.
RUN BY COMMITTEE: In the first game without Lattimore, the Gamecocks struggled to run the ball.
Mike Davis, Kenny Miles and the rest of the team combined for only 104 yards on 41 carries.
Davis finished as the leading rusher with 53 yards on 13 attempts and one touchdown. Miles, the starter, had several long runs negated by losses and finished with 37 yards on 14 carries.
Coach Steve Spurrier said the Gamecocks need to improve their blocking.
“It looked like we had a couple we tried to break,” he said. “But we don’t get a lot of long runs around here. We’re not an all-powerful team.”
A local restaurant chain promises free hamburgers to fans when the Gamecocks rush for more than 100 yards. Spurrier joked that they might not have gotten to the century mark.
“Everybody got their free hamburger?” he asked. “We were worried about that. Our fans will appreciate that.”
MAN OF SPEED: Former Silver Bluff star Troy Williamson was at Saturday’s game. The former Gamecock receiver and return man was introduced on the field in the second quarter along with three other South Carolina players who have played in the NFL.
The speedy Williamson led the Bulldogs to back-to-back state championships in 2000 and 2001. He was a first-round draft pick by the
Minnesota Vikings in 2005. He was traded to Jacksonville after the 2007 season and was released by the Jaguars before the 2010 season.