Lattimore no longer thinking about injury

Marcus Lattimore's way of dealing with his knee injury last season is not to think about it anymore.

The South Carolina junior running back can see only what's in front of him, and everybody who's watched him work out this offseason and practice this preseason, is convinced that his future is as promising as ever despite the torn ACL that sidelined him a year ago.

"I'm just going out there and trying to be myself as I did in the past," Lattimore said.

Still, questions will linger until he makes it through an entire game and an entire season. He's looked strong in scrimmages this preseason, although the Gamecocks wisely haven't overdone it with his live contact work.

Lattimore's running style is violent. You're talking about a back who delivers the blow and has a way of pounding defenses into submission in the fourth quarter. That's a big part of what makes him so great. He just keeps plowing ahead and finding running room when there's seemingly none there.

But in his first two seasons, Lattimore has also absorbed his share of pounding. He's carried the ball 412 times in 20 career games and caught 48 passes. That comes out to an average of 23 touches per game, which is a lot for any player, especially when you're going against SEC defenses.

Counting the six games he missed last season, Lattimore has missed a little more than eight games because of injury during his first two seasons. As a freshman, he injured his ankle early in the second half against Kentucky and didn't finish the game. He missed the entire game against Vanderbilt the next week and was also knocked out early in the first quarter against Florida State in the Chick-fil-A Bowl after taking a blow to the mouth.

Nobody is questioning Lattimore's durability. Few players in college football bring it every week the way he does. But he's not bionic, either. The Gamecocks will go as he goes in 2012, but here's betting he won't have 107 carries four games into the season the way he did a year ago.

When it's money time, Lattimore will be on the field, but you're also going to see a lot more of senior Kenny Miles this season at running back.