How “back” is Marcus Lattimore, anyway?

His coach hopes all the way.

Spurrier had one of his trademark one-liners ready when asked Sunday about the health of Lattimore, who had knee surgery last year.

“I hope he’s where he was when he ran against Georgia two years ago,” Spurrier said with a laugh, alluding to Lattimore’s 182-yard performance, when he carried it 37 times, “because that was sort of his coming-out day here at Williams-Brice two years ago.”

And he is behind last season’s rushing pace.

237: Number of rushing yards short of last year’s total through five games for South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore, who enters the Georgia game with 440 yards on 92 carries (4.78 yards per carry). Through five games last year, Lattimore, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament nearly a year ago, had 677 yards on 124 carries (5.46 ypc). Lattimore has been productive in 2011 with eight rushing touchdowns and his signature vision and patience through the line. Will he fully regain his explosiveness and cutting ability of old? If he hasn’t, there’s still time for that. Look at Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who tore his ACL in December and looked stronger in Week 4 than in Week 1.

But if you look a little more carefully at his stats this season, it doesn’t seem that he was that far off to begin with.  He’s been a very productive player in 2012:

Further, if you compare this year’s stats to his prior work, he’s pretty much on the same pace he was on his sensational freshman season.  He projects out to 239 rushing attempts this year, compared to 249 in 2010, but he’s also on a pace to catch 41 passes, which is more than the 29 he caught two years ago.  His average yards per carry is also close:  4.78 vs. 4.81.

If there are any differences of note, maybe it’s these:  his average yards per reception has dropped steadily, from 14.21 in 2010 to 9.58 in 2011 to his current 6.81; and his yards per rush are down from last year.  How much of that is him and how much of that is how Spurrier has tweaked his offense based on the change from Garcia to Shaw is hard to say.

But overall, what I see is a coach who’s managed his best player on offense carefully and well.  Last week was Lattimore’s season high in carries.  I expect him to have plenty in the tank to try to repeat the experiences Georgia’s defense suffered through the last two season.

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21 Comments

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21 responses to “How “back” is Marcus Lattimore, anyway?

  1. Scorpio Jones, III

    I don’t much care where Mr. Lattimore is on which stat sheet.

    I do, however, fervently hope (and, indeed pray) someone on Georgia’s defense will know where he is on the field any time he is in the lineup.

    And, that person who knows where Mr. Lattimore is, can disrupt Mr. Lattimore’s forward progress in a manner befitting a good football play.

  2. Hogbody Spradlin

    And if you go over the the SC blogs, he’s as fast as Bob Hays, he can move the pile like Ironhead Heyward, and he’s shiftier than Gayle Sayers. And he loves children and is kind to small animals too.

    “Marcus Lattimore is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.”

    • Rocket Dawg

      I am have heard from several people that he is a wonderful, intelligent, hard working, and polite young man. Much like the two we have running the rock for us. It’s good to see Lattimore back on the field.

      That being said I think tomorrow will be the true test of how much he trusts that knee. This will be the best defense he has faced this year.

    • stoopnagle

      “Why don’t you pass the time by playing a little solitaire?”

      And then he blindsides Conner Shaw.

  3. God rewards those who are obedient to HIM. May God Bless us all tomorrow night.

  4. Macallanlover

    I worry more about him as a receiver than I do as a RB this year. His role in the passing offense hits right into our weak spot this year and gets him past our most physical tacklers. ML will get his yards running the ball, I just want our guys to get 2-3 hats on him and stop him from falling forward. Seems like this year we are allowing an extra 3-4 yards after contact near the LOS.

    I really hope John Jenkins and Kwame watched the Utah nose guard last night against SC. He was a load and will be the top DL drafted next year. Very disruptive and got penetration several plays whgere they had two blockers assigned to him. He made himself a lot of money last night on a national stage, Jenkins could do the same on Saturday.

    • AthensHomerDawg

      I also thought about Latimore as big receiving threat. Interesting that he averaged about 2 catches a game this season except for Zou…… where he caught 7 for 60 yards/ 80 yards rushing. He gets the most carries against Georgia. The OBC has been successful riding him when he needs. Odd that his biggest number of carries (37) came against Navy that uSC finally beat by 3 points and his fewest number (16/17) versus Auburn which has beat SOS all three times they have played. Wonder what it is about Auburn that slows Lattimore down. This will be the first night game for the Chickens.

  5. Rebar

    Lattimore is a great back, but this weekend I think he is introduced to Ogletree!

  6. Ubiquitous GA Alum

    And I’m betting Shawn Williams stalks the box too … daring Shaw to air it out

  7. AthensHomerDawg

    Apologies ahead of time for the long post here. Thanx for your patience. Adrian Peterson is a 100,000 million dollar running back. He tore his ACL and MCL and had some very sophisticated surgery that include a bone graft. He seems to be doing well. Jerry Rice had a very similar injury. The second time it blew he was done.

    Bottom line you are never the same after a knee injury. It takes two years to get back and you won’t stay back as long as you would have prior to the injury.

    “Major leg injuries and running backs do not mix, and it takes time (typically two full years from the season when the major leg injury occurred) to recover to the pre-injury form that these backs enjoyed when punishing NFL defenses on a regular basis. Jamal Lewis, Deuce McAllister (first ACL tear in 2004), and Ronnie Brown are the only running backs to produce numbers extremely similar to their pre-injury form on their first year back from a major leg injury. For Lewis, there are two possible explanations that could help account for this. The first lies in the fact that Lewis tore his ACL during the preseason in the summer of 2000, hence Lewis had longer to rehab the injury and prepare for the 2002 season when compared to previous backs that tore their ACL during the regular season. The second possible explanation lies in the fact that Lewis had previously torn his ACL during his sophomore year of college while playing at Tennessee; consequently, he already experienced the recovery process and knew both physically and mentally what it would take to rehabilitate his knee and return to a high level of play. However, this same line of thought did not workout for McAllister, who successfully returned to his pre-injury form the first year he returned to action from a torn ACL (2006), but not the second (2008). Asking a player to successfully return from an ACL tear in each knee is a very tall order, and it is remarkable McAllister was able to work his way back onto the field in 2008. As for Ronnie Brown, he is the exception to the norm as we have no concrete reason why he was able to return to his preinjury form so quickly. He did injure his knee in 2007 relatively early in the season (week 7), but that is not early enough to consider it a significant advantage in terms of recovery time. In every data set there are always a few points outside the data band, and Brown to his credit is one of those points. Hearst also had one of the better years on his return (70% of his previous fantasy performance based on a standard performance scoring system), but similar to Lewis, Hearst also had more time to rehabilitate his injury compared to other players (in fact, he had an additional year to recover). Regardless, the overall trend illustrates that some of the best backs in the game struggled on their first year immediately returning from a major leg injury.

    Why does this RB two-year injury rule seem to exist?
    In a word: hesitation. When returning to the gridiron after recovering from a significant leg injury, it is almost impossible for a running back to not hesitate when running with the ball. Minor leg injuries such as sprains and pulled muscles can and should be expected for running backs in the NFL, but major leg injuries such as a torn ACL can be devastating to a running back and delay their progress to returning to their pre-injury form. The key to this immediate one-year slump lies in the function of the ACL itself. The ACL holds the femur and tibia in place and is one of the most critical ligaments to athletes because of its primary function of stabilizing the knee joint during deceleration. Without the ACL, players would fall to the ground due to the knee buckling when applying pressure from either stopping or changing direction. It is only natural for a running back to be hesitant when running during the first year after an ACL injury. Given the speed of the NFL, there is no room for there to be any kind of hesitation and still expect a running back to put up big numbers.

    By the way, for those that have endured a significant leg injury and played some ball, we’re preaching to the choir. For those that haven’t, go talk to someone who has. Physical therapy is brutal and requires not only considerable time to “fully recover”, but also requires tremendous determination and sheer guts. The mental anguish on a player can at times prove to be as strenuous as the physical anguish. It is not uncommon for a player to ponder thoughts of retirement when going through this process, and it is a credit to those that made it all the way back to be able to play at the level the NFL demands. ”

    I’m sure that the OBC realizes this and he will use Lattimore in the receiving game to minimize the pounding Lattimore will get with all Georgia’s LB depth. At the same time if Shaw can’t hurt us with the dinks and dunks or if the dinks and dunks aren’t in the 12-15 yard range he will ride his RB. Remember he was perfectly willing to push an injured and hurting Shaw against the ‘Dores when he had nothing else to go to. He has to win this game. He might weather LSU but I think Muschomp gets him this year and he needs the head to head with us. We will soon be 2 in row against the gators and I’m sure SOS believes that as well.
    Or I am full of it, but I am having fun. ;-)

    • Macallanlover

      Excellent, informative post. Consistent with what I have heard in the past. Key word is hesitation, the difference between being very good and great may well be that slight doubt/hesitation. I expect Lattimore to get yards anyway, more worried about the “dinks and dunks”, especially to him.

      It is a very fun time of year for all of us, especially this year with the opportunity our team has. Going to be a very significant weekend for several teams, including us. Not the end of our hopes if we stumble but a solid performance to take us up a rung or two on the respect ladder. While I recognize SC has a good team who whave some intangibles in theor corner, I just have a very good feeling about how well the defense is going to perform. If we don’t blow assignments, or gift them a few turnovers UGA will prevail. Predicting a UGA and LSU sweep tomorrow. Go Dawgs!!

    • NRBQ

      Jamal Lewis may have benefited from all that drug-running…

  8. Debby Balcer

    Is the ACL what Bennett tore?

    • Macallanlover

      Yes. Usually they are able to repair the damage so it shouldn’t be a career ender for MB. But as AHD explained, while the physical damage heals and rehab is able to get the player back on the field after 10+ months but it is usually two years before you see that player return to his original form. (That is true for RBs, receivers, LBs and kick returners, but most positions that do not require quick cuts and shifts are usually fine the following season.)