It's still one of C&F's favorite YouTube videos -- even better than Darth Vader playing a harmonica and the endless attempts to get cell phones to cause popcorn to pop. It is a tribute to one of the toughest and hardest-charging players South Carolina has seen in a long time.
Cory Boyd was the kind of player who exceeded his stats. And yet it seemed that the very thing that drove him -- a desire to run away from a troubled childhood as fast as he could -- also led to the poor choices, the year-long suspension, the reference to cocaine on national television.
But make no mistake: If there was a heart to the team last year, it was Boyd. Even as the Gamecocks collapsed down the stretch, fans could count on No. 3 to play until he couldn't run any more.
Not that his numbers weren't good.
The top two years, bolded here, are when Boyd was the full-time starter. He did not play in 2005-06 due to suspension.
The challenge this year is to replace the near-freakish consistency of Boyd in his last two years. Yards per carry? 5.0, each year. Receiving yards a game? 33.8, each year. Combined TD? 10, each year.
Your leading candidate for successor is Mike Davis, who was the top rusher in 2005 and Boyd's backup since.
Again, year bolded is the year he started.
The three remaining returners -- Brian Maddox, Taylor Rank and Bobby Wallace -- have a combined 74 rushes to their names over the last three years, including Wallace's 41 carries (135 yards) in the 2005 season.
The smart money, of course, is on Mike Davis to take the job. Wallace gives us little to go on, as does Maddox, though both should be in the fray. Rank could play in as well, but C&F seriously doubts that will be the case.
The wild card in all this is freshman Eric Baker, and all we have to go on there is his 800-yard military academy performance and the university PR.
Enrolled at Carolina in January 2008 and went through spring drills... considered one of the best "natural" runners on the squad... can do good things with the ball in his hands... runs hard and can make the defender miss.
Coincidentally, isn't the whole point of being a running back -- or being any skill player -- to make the defender miss? Is there a skill player alive, or a good one anyway, who says, "You know, I think I'm going to let the defense stop me here." Just an observation on something that's been bugging C&F.
The running game hasn't been stellar during Spurrier's time here. Part of that falls on the patchwork nature of most of HBC's offensive lines, with the lineups changing more often than John Mayer's dating selections.
This year, with a young quarterback (even if we don't know which one yet) and Kenny McKinley still waiting for a consistent No. 2, the running game has to step up, at least early on.
Success will come down to one question: Can Mike Davis fill the role of starter? And if not, can anyone? It's great to have depth, but it has to be meaningful depth and not just an abundance of players at one position.
Davis' 2005-06 numbers won't cut it; nor will his three career 100-yard games. (Boyd had five in his time at South Carolina, and that really wasn't enough.) To help the QBs find their footing, Davis will have to run well, particularly at the beginning of the year.
If not, there are plenty of running backs who are waiting for a chance to show they can do the job.