UF's Evans says Lattimore 'lost a step'

October, 16, 2012
10/16/12
4:13
PM ET
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore shredded Florida for 212 yards and three touchdowns in the Gamecocks’ 36-14 victory over the Gators in 2010. But UF safety Josh Evans isn’t expecting to see the same kind of player when the Gators play host to the Gamecocks on Saturday.

Evans wasn’t trying to trash talk. He just believes Lattimore is still feeling the effects from the torn left ACL he suffered against Mississippi State last season. Even though Lattimore has played in every game this season, he just doesn’t look like the same runner, Evans said Tuesday afternoon.

[+] EnlargeLattimore
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesSouth Carolina's Marcus Lattimore is still less than 12 months removed from anterior cruciate ligament surgery.
"He’s a good back, [a] physical guy," Evans said. "I think he lost a step a little bit from what we’ve seen before but he’s still showing statistics, so nothing to take away from him."

That comment came a day after UF coach Will Muschamp said Lattimore looks completely healthy.

"You see no issues from what he had with his injury last year," Muschamp said. "A guy that’s running extremely well, in my opinion."

Lattimore’s stats seem to prove Muschamp’s point. Lattimore has rushed for 584 yards and 10 touchdowns this season and is averaging 83.4 yards per game and 4.5 yards per carry. Those final two numbers are similar to what he did as a freshman in 2009, when he averaged 92.1 yards per game and 4.8 yards per carry. Lattimore was averaging 116.9 yards per game and 5.0 yards per carry in eight games before his injury last season.

The 6-foot, 218-pound Lattimore is a physical runner who punishes tacklers, so any kind of problem with his knee would certainly show up.

"He’s a one-cut runner. He gets the ball north and south and he pushes the pile," Muschamp said. "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 look up and you’re working first-and-10 and all of a sudden in the box they say, ‘second-and-5’ and he gained 5 yards."

Lattimore did sustain a bruised hip in the Gamecocks’ loss at LSU last Saturday, but he practiced Monday, according to reports out of Columbia, S.C., and coach Steve Spurrier said he expects Lattimore to play on Saturday.

Mike DiRocco | email

ESPN Jacksonville Jaguars reporter

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