There's no official word on just how bad the injury Marcus Lattimore sustained to his right knee in Saturday's game against Tennessee, but it's not good. Lattimore wasn't able to finish last year after a knee injury as well, which raises all sorts of questions.
The main question right now, of course, is how badly Lattimore was injured. From the looks of things, pretty badly. "It looks severe on the field," was all Steve Spurrier told ESPN on his halftime injury. No one expects Lattimore to come back in this game, at least. (A side note: Tennessee deserves credit for a classy response to the injury, and look no further than a talkative SEC coach's Twitter feed for more signs of respect.)
So sad to see the injury to Marcus Lattimore. Strong kid! We wish him well in recovery.— Les Miles (@LSUCoachMiles) October 27, 2012
In all likelihood, South Carolina will be fine. The SEC East goal is likely out of reach, but the Gamecocks also showed last year that they can weather a stretch without Lattimore fairly well. A 10-win season is very much a possibility.
The more serious question is what happens with Lattimore now. He was almost certainly going to head to the NFL Draft after this year and would have been a highly-regarded running back prospect. Even in a slightly "down year," Lattimiore was averaging 4.5 yards per carry for 597 yards and 10 touchdowns. He is a complete back.
But will an NFL team take a chance on Lattimore -- assuming this isn't a career-ending injury -- after knee problems ended two consecutive years? And if he chooses to come back to South Carolina for his senior season, what are the guarantees that it won't happen again?