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Sands unsure how to share carries

When evaluating the South Carolina offense position by position, it’s pretty clear that running backs coach Everette Sands probably has the most talent and depth. He, however, only has a few guys this spring to work with given some critical injuries.

South Carolina running backs coach Everette Sands

In the absence of Marcus Lattimore and Shon Carson, who are both coming off of ACL surgeries, he has a pair of scholarship tailbacks and a pair of walk-ons working at the position. Kenny Miles and Brandon Wilds have each played a key role in the past and they’re the ones toting the ball this spring.

This fall, Sands will add Lattimore and Carson back to the mix as well as incoming freshman Mike Davis. Even though Sands is still five months away from having to make decisions, the question begging to be answered is, how are the carries going to shake out between the tailbacks?

“I have a great group of guys that have a lot of talent and that is a question I don’t have a great answer for,” Sands said.

Sands says that he typically has three guys in his rotation for carries. The top guy typically gets about 15-to-20 carries, the second guy between 10 and 12, and the third guy a handful, or so. That comes out to about 35 carries per game, on average, that Sands divvies out. Subtracting out quarterback rushes, the Gamecocks averaged about 20 carries per game last season.

Numbers may have been skewed a little bit last season after Lattimore’s injury with more carries given to Connor Shaw, who rushed 135 of South Carolina’s 553 total, or the Gamecocks may just plan on running the football more this season.

“Normally I like to have my starter be a guy that will carry the ball 15-20 times a game but Marcus is special because he has carried the ball 40 times in a game so, he may get a few more than that,” Sand said. “But we will see because I have some guys that if they were anywhere else they could be a starter.”

South Carolina has two more practices left at the Proving Grounds - Tuesday and Thursday at 4:15 p.m. of next week. The team will hold the annual Garnet & Black Spring Game on Saturday, April 14 at 1 p.m. at Williams-Brice Stadium.

Q&A with Sands

How has Kenny Miles been this spring and what have you seen from him?

I think Kenny Miles is having a great spring. From what I have seen he is in the best shape of his life. All the little things that I have asked him to do. He is eating up all of my coaching points so I am really excited about Kenny.

Has he talked to you at all about coming back for the year?

He is coming back. He has told me, “Coach I am coming back.”

How much of a help has he been in helping with some of the younger guys with his experience returning?

Very much, especially with the younger guys because right now I have Brandon and Kenny and then I have Dwayne Duckett, who was a very late walk-on. He spent a couple days at wide receiver before moving over to us and then Blair Lowery. So I have two receivers that we are trying to teach to play running back so him and Brandon are doing a great job of going over the little things with them.

This coming season with the return of Lattimore and Carson and the arrival of Mike Davis to go along with Brandon and Kenny, how will you go about trying to prepare them for each game? I would think that may be a problem when you have five quality backs and only so much time to prepare.

It is because I have a great group of guys that have a lot of talent and that is a question I don’t have a great answer for. Normally I like to have my starter be a guy that will carry the ball 15-20 times a game but Marcus is special because he has carried the ball 40 times in a game so, he may get a few more than that. The second string guy usually gets 10 to 12 carry type guy and then the last guy get three to five carries a game. But we will see because I have some guys that if they were anywhere else they could be a starter.

Everybody talks about Marcus but what have you seen from Shon in the film room and in discussions to know how he is developing?

Shon is a sharp guy. He is another guy that is a worker in the weight room, in talking with the trainers about his rehab he has done a great job in the weight room and in the rehab area. I have known him since I was at North Carolina State when I was recruiting him so he is just a sharp guy and continuing to pick things up.

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