Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida Gators' Mike Gillislee, South Carolina Gamecocks' Marcus Lattimore face off

GAINESVILLE — At this time last season, South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore had just suffered an ACL injury that crushed talk of a potential Heisman Trophy and ended his season. At that same time, Florida's Mike Gillislee was playing sparingly and biding his time behind Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps.

On Saturday afternoon, a nearly fully recovered Lattimore and a renewed Gillislee will take center stage for the Gamecocks and Gators as two of the SECs top rushers in a critical SEC East game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

"Very similar," Florida coach Will Muschamp said when asked how the two compare. "He's (Lattimore) a one-cut runner. He gets the ball north and south and he pushes the pile. That's the one thing you see with him in the zone read: sometimes there's not much of a hole there, but he finds it and he sticks his face in there and gets the pile moving. …

"You like to compete against these kinds of guys. He's a guy that's going to go after it and he's going to compete and play hard and play fast and play physical. You see no issues from what he had with his injury last year. A guy that's running extremely well."

Florida has the SEC's third-best rushing game, the Gamecocks are No. 4. Gillislee, 5 feet 11 and 209 pounds, is the league's No. 2 rusher (No. 1 running back). Lattimore, 6 feet and 218 pounds, is sixth.

Both are coming off subpar performances. Gillislee, who's averaging 102.5 yards per game, rushed for 67 yards on 17 carries vs. Vanderbilt. And Lattimore finished Saturday's loss against LSU with 13 carries for 35 yards and one touchdown after getting banged up early.

"He's got a bruise on his hip a little bit," South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said. "Just typical soreness, he caught a helmet down around his hip area. He'll just be out two or three days, but he should be fine."

If Lattimore is healthy, the Gators expect him to be a force. Two years ago as a freshman against Florida he had 40 carries for 212 yards and three touchdowns to help seal South Carolina's first SEC East title.

"I like to think of myself as a mix of Marshall Faulk or Pierre Thomas," Lattimore said. "I can find those little holes and bursts to run you over or run around you. I'm not that fast, but I've got just enough speed. At this point, I'm just trying to stay healthy."

Lattimore outgained and outscored Florida all by himself in that game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. He had 243 yards and 18 points, the Gators had 226 yards and 14 points.

"He's one of the backs that can pretty much do it all," Florida senior linebacker Jon Bostic said. "He can do some different things.

"He's hard to really stop, you know, because he's a good single-back guy. He can run it from the I-formation. He can always line up in gun and do some zone-read stuff from there. It's kind of hard to defend because you never know exactly what they're going to come out in."

Gillislee has become a surprise for the Gators — and the SEC. In his first three years, he played in 36 games with 920 rushing yards on 145 attempts and had six receiving touchdowns. He played in all but three games last season and had 328 yards in a backup role, yet had a team-best rushing average of 5.9 yards.

Gillislee said he has always known he could play in this league, it was just a matter of getting his opportunity.

"This is more my style, downhill, getting those tough yards, being a physical back," Gillislee said. "Coach (Brent) Pease just wants us to get however many yards it takes to get the drive alive and help this team win. The running back has a big impact in this offense because Coach Pease likes to run the ball."

Count Pease, the offensive coordinator, among those who isn't surprised.

"In spring, the kid showed something every day," he said. "I think he goes to practice with great preparation, work ethic and attitude. He's always got a smile on his face. I think he wants to be good. He's a kid that. I think he's very humble. He's always asking, What was this guy like? He's trying to be like some of the good ones that he knows his coaches have been around."

Antonya English can be reached at

SEC leading rushers

Player Team Att Yds Avg. TD Yds/G
Johnny Manziel Tex. A&M 91 676 7.43 10 112.67
Mike Gillislee Florida 120 615 5.13 7 102.50
LaDarius Perkins Miss. St. 105 600 5.71 7 100.00
Todd Gurley Georgia 81 575 7.10 9 95.83
Jeff Scott Miss 93 564 6.06 5 94.00
Marcus Lattimore S. Carolina 129 584 4.53 10 83.43
Rajion Neal Tennessee 112 500 4.46 5 83.33
Zac Stacy Vanderbilt 99 499 5.04 4 83.17
Eddie Lacy Alabama 82 491 5.99 7 81.83
Keith Marshall Georgia 64 465 7.27 5 77.50

Florida Gators' Mike Gillislee, South Carolina Gamecocks' Marcus Lattimore face off 10/15/12 [Last modified: Monday, October 15, 2012 11:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze resigns over 'inappropriate conduct' (w/ video)


    OXFORD, Miss. — Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze was at Jackson Country Club on Wednesday night, giving his yearly rah-rah speech about the Rebels overcoming adversity and getting ready for the college football season.

    If Hugh Freeze hadn’t resigned, Ole Miss says it would have fired him for violating his contract’s moral turpitude clause.
  2. Fennelly: With playoff chase in high gear, it's time for Rays to make a move

    The Heater


    Thursday was an off-day for the Rays, who are coming off a solid western swing. I assume there was no rest for the tag-team Rays baseball brain trust of Matt Silverman, Erik Neander and Chaim Bloom, whose job it is to improve this team in advance of the trade deadline. They've done a good job …

    Evan Longoria is glad to see the Rangers coming to town: He’s batting .296 against them with 15 homers and 56 RBIs in 69 career games.
  3. Rays vs. Rangers, 7:10 p.m. Friday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Rangers

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  4. Good news for Rays on Steven Souza Jr. as MRI shows 'no damage' to hip


    The Rays got good news today on RF Steven Souza Jr., as an MRI showed "no damage" to his left hip.

    Steven Souza Jr. #20 of the Tampa Bay Rays holds his leg after hurting himself trying to steal second base in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on July 19, 2017 in Oakland, California.
  5. Bucs raise prices for single tickets to marquee games


    The Bucs will have single-game tickets for 2017 home games on sale July 28, with a new wrinkle: the best games will cost more for fans.

    Bucs fans cheer Jameis Winston after a victory in their final home game of the 2016 season. Individual tickets for the Bucs' three most coveted home games (against the Patriots, Bears and Giants) will cost more in 2017.