SEC: Josh Hinch

South Carolina suffered a major blow to its offense when sophomore running back Marcus Lattimore went down with a season-ending knee injury.

It was devastating not only to the team but to Lattimore who is both a tremendous player and person. But like any team, especially one looking to make a championship run, it’s time to move on.

Running back depth is a real issue for the Gamecocks, and this offense has revolved mostly around Lattimore, who ended his season second in the league in rushing with 818 yards and 10 touchdowns on 163 carries.

The Gamecocks have already lost Shon Carson and Jacob Baker, who also had season-ending ACL injuries, but here are some names to keep an eye on when it comes to the Gamecocks’ backfield:

BRANDON WILDS

[+] EnlargeMarcus Lattimore
Jim Dedmon/Icon SMIHow will South Carolina replace Marcus Lattimore, one of their biggest offensive weapons?
Who is this guy? Wilds wasn’t highly recruited coming out of high school, but after starting off the year fifth on the depth chart and mainly a special teams player he’s right at the top of the list now that Lattimore is out. As a senior in high school he carried the ball 175 times for 818 yards and eight touchdowns.

Qualifications: Wilds has been the second-most productive running back for the Gamecocks this season, with 75 yards on 13 carries. That’s another reason Lattimore was so important to the Gamecocks. After being at the bottom of the barrel, his rise to the top has to tell you about his character and work ethic.

What he could do: He won’t be near the running back Lattimore was, but he’s going to work hard. You don’t always need flash to get the job done and if Wilds can maintain the right attitude and determination on the field he can make a few plays. Just don’t expect him to carry close to the load Lattimore did.

BRUCE ELLINGTON

Who is this guy? He is true two-sport star for the Gamecocks, leading the basketball team in scoring as a freshman last season, and now he’s taken his act to the football field. He’s one of South Carolina’s busiest offensive weapons because he runs, catches and throws in this offense.

Qualifications: He was a high school quarterback along with being a basketball stud. He can be extremely elusive in space when he has the ball and gives the Gamecocks another element in the passing game. He’s already completed two passes for 24 yards, including a long of 16. He currently has 12 catches for 129 yards and has carried the ball 11 times for 91 yards and a touchdown.

What he could do: Ellington would be used primarily in the wildcat formation. He already has a long rush of 61 yards, so speed isn’t an issue, and he’s made a few plays over the middle, so you know he’s durable. Ellington’s role will expand even more now and he’ll be getting more action out of the backfield from here on out.

KENNY MILES

Who is this guy? Remember Miles? He led South Carolina in rushing back in 2009 with his 626 yards. He also caught 21 passes for 137 yards. But once Lattimore came on the scene, Miles’ production dropped considerably. Last year he carried the ball 40 times for 152 yards.

Qualifications: Miles entered the year as the No. 2 running back and for his career he has started eight games and has had three 100-yard performances. However, he hasn’t played in a game since Sept. 17 (Navy) because of a right wrist injury. Even with South Carolina’s next game on Oct. 29, Miles is still questionable to return that soon.

What he could do: It would be a major lift for the Gamecocks if Miles can come back. While he’s only carried the ball one time this season, Miles brings experience and leadership to the position. Things haven’t been great for Miles since 2009, but he did step up to be more of a leader during the offseason.

ERIC BAKER

Who is this guy? He was once the No. 1 back way back in the spring of 2009, but a summer hernia operation limited his touches during fall camp and he fell down the depth chart. He only touched the ball four times that season and eventually tore his ACL before the bowl game, causing him to miss all of 2010.

Qualifications: He’s spent very limited time as a starter, and rushed for 182 yards on 46 carries in 2008. We haven’t seen much of him this year, with him carrying the ball three times for 3 yards. He also suffered a bad ankle injury against Vanderbilt and might not be available for the Tennessee game.

What he could do: Baker has seen very little action during his career and injuries have really cut into his chances during the last three seasons. We aren’t sure how durable he could be once he gets back on the field.

JOSH HINCH

Who is this guy? Most people have probably never heard of Hinch. He is a walk-on who has mostly helped out on the scout team. He has yet to register any stats for the Gamecocks, but could enter next week’s game at Tennessee as the No. 2 back. That has to be a scary thought for the coaching staff.

Qualifications: While he hasn’t played yet this season, Hinch has impressed with his play with the scout team. He was also a football and track star in both high school and at MidAmerica Nazarene, an NAIA school.

What he could do: We really aren’t sure what all Hinch can do for the Gamecocks. If he has to go in, expect the staff to water down what he does. But if no one else can go, he’ll have to go in and try to do something to help out Wilds.

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