Tuesday, July 24, 2007

BOYD'S TURN


This could be one of the shortest of the "Gamecocks 2007" previews. Why? Because this is one of the most locked-down positions on the field.

Cory Boyd will be the feature running back this season. Period.

The question is whether he can develop into the kind of consistent running threat that South Carolina needs, particularly with the questions that continue to hover over Blake Mitchell and the offensive line.

Boyd was solid in 2006, running for 823 yards and averaging five yards a pop while grabbing 35 passes for another 406 yards. In all, he scored 10 TDs.

But Boyd ran for 100 yards only three times last season -- against Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Clemson. He got to 94 yards against Houston and 93 against Mississippi State, but never got above 80 in any other game.

Nonetheless, expectations are high. Rivals.com pegs Boyd as the best player on the Gamecocks offense.

In fairness, part of Boyd's problem reaching 100 yards a game came in the form of Mike Davis, who carried the ball 100 times last year. Davis got more carries and yards against Florida and Auburn. Look for Davis to be used more as a breather for Boyd this year than a secondary back.

Boyd's biggest positive is his absolute refusal to go to the ground. He's not exactly Jerome Bettis, but you would still probably have more luck bringing a caffienated bison to the ground than trying to put Boyd on the turf.

Boyd has seen his share of setbacks. His first two years were spent under Lou Holtz, when running plays were largely confined to the quarterback running into the nearest defender. Boyd missed 2005 due to discipline problems.

This is his year to step up. If he does, it could ease some of the pressure on the passing game and make Boyd an offensive force in his own right. If he doesn't, Spurrier's goal of an SEC title looks even more far-fetched.

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