Florida vs. South Carolina: Josh Evans says Marcus Lattimore has "lost a step," tells inconvenient truth

John Sommers II - Getty Images

South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore may have lost a step after tearing his ACL. But no Florida player should be saying that, right?

I was hoping that Florida might get through the 2012 season without saying anything to rile up an opponent, but, whoops, Josh Evans thinks Marcus Lattimore has "lost a step":

"He’s a good back, [a] physical guy," Evans said. "I think he lost a step a little bit from what we’ve seen before but he’s still showing statistics, so nothing to take away from him."

In the abstract, Evans might not actually be wrong: Lattimore's averaging 4.53 yards per carry, down from the 5.01 he averaged as a sophomore in 2011 prior to getting hurt against Mississippi State and the 4.81 he averaged as a freshman sensation in 2010. Lattimore's also got just 584 yards through seven games in 2012, after compiling 818 over the seven games he played last season, and his top output in 2012 is 120 rushing yards against Kentucky, which pales in comparison to the 176 yards he racked up against Georgia in 2011 and the 246 he put on Navy.

Those numbers are certainly good, especially in the SEC, but Lattimore's lack of big plays speaks to his inability to get into gear. His long rush in 2012 is a 43-yarder against UAB ... but his career long is just 58 yards against Troy in 2010, and his long in 2011 was just 36 yards. Lattimore never had the top-end speed that lends itself to long plays, and if he's slower because of his injury and recovery, he's not a completely different back because of it.

But while Evans is sort of saying that — and not "LOL, Marcus Lattimore is SO SLOW NOW" — it's not like Lattimore's merely above-average speed was an issue in 2010, when he ran over Florida for 212 rushing yards on 40 carries. South Carolina gained 239 yards on the ground to the Gators' 226 yards of total offense in a 36-14 blowout in The Swamp, and used Lattimore as a battering ram: He ran 11 times in the first quarter, 10 times in the second, 10 times in the third, and nine in the fourth. And he never lost yardage on a carry.

Lattimore's not an idiot, and he's likely not to take issue with Evans' comments publicly, because he's not that kind of guy. But will he be trying to prove Evans wrong every time he totes the rock on Saturday? Definitely.

And that's why Evans shouldn't have made this truth public at such an inconvenient time: In sports, you never want to give your opponent extra motivation before you face off.

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