Des Kitchings was only around South Carolina’s running backs for one practice during spring football before it was canceled due of the novel coronavirus, but the new Gamecock coach has been pleased with his unit and seems optimistic about its potential.
South Carolina averaged 149.9 rushing yards per game last season, a clip that put it 11th in the SEC, but Kitchings sees a skill set in his players that he hopes will get it back on right track.
Said the coach, “In my past, the successful guys I’ve had are one, mentally tough. ... And the athletic part of it as well. The speed, the size, the physical attributes — the bottom line, as a running back, the objective is to score touchdowns. ... A college running back is the starting point of an offense. I know we talk about quarterbacks, but, particularly in the [SEC], where you have to be able to run the ball consistently, you have to have guys that can break tackles and create explosive plays.”
Kitchings already has a good grasp of his players. “Obviously I think MarShawn [Lloyd] is as advertised, so I’m looking forward to working with him,” the coach said. “[And] you saw some flashes both from Kevin [Harris] and Deshaun [Fenwick].” Kitchings knows some of the Gamecock running backs already from seeing them on the recruiting trail and facing them while at his previous school, NC State.
“I’d like to think that we’re going to have the depth in the room where we’re going to be able to rotate some guys through the first, second and third quarters and then in the fourth, you know, let’s go lean on somebody who’s really been consistent and productive,” he said.
On freshman MarShawn Lloyd: “He has some juice in his legs. He’s a kid who makes a cut and gets vertical very fast. You saw him breaking tackles in very limited time in pads. There’s some intangible things you see there that you say, “This guys got it.” And that’s not to say the other kids didn’t, but he flashed on film those couple practices in the spring.”
On incoming freshman Rashad Amos: “Last fall, we even looked at him some. And by the time we started moving forward with him, he had already committed to South Carolina. ... I think he has some good tools, as an athlete, as a ball carrier, as a guy that can win in space.”
On junior ZaQuandre White, a transfer from Iowa Western Community College who previously spent two seasons at Florida State: “I remember ZaQuandre when he was down at Florida State, playing against him. I’m excited about him coming on board, because he’s dynamic. You talk about a guy who can go score a touchdown for you in a hurry.”