Mississippi won't play McClendon against South Carolina

Updated: October 30, 2003, 8:18 PM ET

OXFORD, Miss. -- Mississippi running back Ronald McClendon will not play Saturday against South Carolina as the school tries to resolve a possible rules violation regarding the junior, coach David Cutcliffe announced Thursday.

"After receiving information earlier this week which indicated a potential rules violation, as a precautionary measure, we are withholding Ronald from further competition until the matter can be resolved," Cutcliffe said in a statement.

Cutcliffe did not specify the type of violation.

McClendon has rushed for 331 yards, a team-best 6.0 average per carry.

No. 20 Mississippi (6-2, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) has won four straight games to move into first place in the West. An improved running game has been a major part of the resurgence.

The move leaves the Rebels, who have been using a committee of tailbacks this season, without their second-leading rusher and possibly very thin in the backfield.

Vashon Pearson, the team's third-leading rusher, injured his shoulder last week against Arkansas. His status for Saturday is uncertain.

Cutcliffe said Brandon Jacobs, who has been playing fullback, will back up starter Tremaine Turner.

Turner leads the Rebels with 395 yards rushing.

Mississippi was using four tailbacks early in the season, but Jamal Pittman was lost for the season three weeks ago with a knee injury.

McClendon is also the top kickoff returner.

Wide receivers Chris Collins, Mike Espy and Taye Biddle and cornerback BryanBrown will handle those duties with McClendon unavailable.

"This is an untimely situation, but we will move forward as normal in preparations for South Carolina," Cutcliffe said.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index