Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Making Of A Legend


Sundays following a loss are difficult enough but the replay of the ball bouncing ahead of Washaun Ealey at the three yard line keeps playing over and over in my mind.

The thought of the best wide receiver to ever play for the Dawgs sitting in a dorm room watching the game against his home state on television are not far behind either.

Watching the birth of a legend against your favorite team is not a happy experience, but Sunday mornings seem to temper the feeling and you realize that history was played out right before your eyes.

Marcus Lattimore received a tremendous amount of hype while attending Byrnes High School, all of it deserved. Based on his first two college games, there should have been more. He is quickly elevating himself to the “Herschel” level of expectations.

Lattimore answered a number of questions following Saturday’s Georgia game.

On his 37 carry, 182-yard performance:

I wasn’t expecting this, but it pays off from all the hard work we’ve been through during the summer. Our offensive line was in better shape than their defensive line.

On the team continuing to run the ball:

We knew coming into the game that the ends were playing wide. We could just gas them up the middle. TJ (Johnson) did a great job moving the nose guard. We just kept gassing them because they played wide and couldn’t figure it out.

On if Coach Spurrier told him he would get the bulk of carries:

He said that, and I knew I had to be ready because I knew I was going to get the ball every time.

On preparing for Georgia:

We watched a lot of tape. I tried to watch a lot of tape on my own between classes or anytime I could, just trying to see what they would do when we run an inside zone.

On the inside zone play:

That’s all we ran at (James F.) Byrnes (High School). I ran that for four years at Byrnes. That’s my favorite play. When they’re playing a three-man front, we try to push them to the right on inside zone right or push them in on inside zone left. We just tried to push that nose and I would read off (TJ Johnson).

On gaining yards after contact:

I worked on that a lot since I’ve been here. My pad leverage, Coach (Jay) Graham works on that everyday. You have to have correct pad leverage and you can break anyone’s tackle. It doesn’t matter how big they are.

On getting confidence from the coaching staff to have 37 carries:

They know I’ve been working hard. I just want to play and produce and help the team anyway I can. They know that. I try to keep the ball off the ground. That (pace) is what I’m used to. I did it in high school.

I didn’t (expect to do this well) but it worked out pretty good. We started running my favorite play and that set it up.

On the fans during the fourth quarter:

I heard them cheering my name. I was real tired, but that got me up. I was running off adrenaline on that drive because I was dead.

The only Heisman Trophy winner at the University of South Carolina is a Georgia boy, born in Duluth, named George Rogers. He played four seasons for the Gamecocks and rushed for 5,204 yards, he scored 31 touchdowns. The rushing record is still his and he is tied for the number of rushing touchdowns, although Lattimore only trails him by 27 after his first two games.

In 1980, freshman tailback Herschel Walker exploded onto the college football scene when he blew up Bill Bates to score a touchdown in his first game, he went on to finish third in the Heisman voting to Rogers that season. Yesterday I had a lot of memory flashbacks to the early 80’s.

George sits outside the stadium with his trophy before every home game and raises money for his foundation by taking pictures and allowing fans to hold his Heisman.

If Lattimore stays healthy, they will eventually need another table out front to hold his trophy, he is that good.

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