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August 30, 2013
South Carolina's Thunder and Lightning running back duo debuted Thursday night -- during a game delayed by thunder and lightning.
Thunder and Lightning, Lightning and Thunder. That is how running back Mike Davis described himself and his backfield mate, Brandon Wilds.
Davis is the younger brother of former Clemson running back James Davis who played along side C.J. Spiller. The duo was known as "Thunder and Lightning." James Davis provided the physicality (Thunder) and Spiller the quickness (Lightning).
"B-Wilds is a very big guy," said Davis. "(He's a) very hard runner but he also has breakaway speed. I guess you could call both of us 'Thunder and Lightning.'"
That was on display Thursday night as each of the backs displayed their capabilities within the running game. On a fourth-and-2 in the first quarter, Steve Spurrier showed confidence in his back-up running back calling his number. Though Davis already had 19 yards on three carries and was showing his mettle, it was Wilds that got the call.
It was his first carry since the 2011 season and Wilds made the most of it. Hit short of the marker, Wilds carried the ball (and several Tar Heel defenders) 8 yards down the field showing the physicality Davis spoke of in the post-game press conference. He showed that he will be a vital part of the offense and the running game. He showed that he belonged.
"Brandon was running the ball really well," said Spurrier. "He had some very good runs. He and Mike had some good runs. We'll have to watch the tape to see if there were some holes there or whatever, but I thought North Carolina's defense was pretty sturdy to tell you the truth."
Wilds went on to rush for 64 yards on 12 carries averaging 5.3 yards per carry. It was a solid night for the Blythewood product. It was a positive sign for him after sitting out the 2012 season due to an injury and it was his first run of the season that displayed his value to this team.
Davis had a highlight run as well. It came a little later in the ball game and it was equally as important. Despite jumping out to 17-0 lead in the first quarter, USC offense managed just 53 yards in the second quarter. UNC received the ball first in the second half and drove the length of the field before settling for a field goal to pull the Tar Heels to within 10 points.
The game was still in doubt. Enter Mike Davis.
After kicking it back to USC following the Tar Heels opening drive score, the Gamecocks took over on their own 25-yard line following the touch back. The first play from scrimmage for USC was a hand off to Davis between the tackles. The play started simple enough. It appeared to be a nice gain for Davis as he reached the first would-be tacklers in opposing uniforms.
Bouncing off a couple of defenders, he got outside and started up the sideline and this is where is got interesting. It appeared that a Tar Heel had a clear angle on Davis and would catch him just past midfield. He didn't. Davis opened up his stride. He showed his speed. He ran away from everyone only slowing down after crossing the goal line.
"I guess my speed shows for itself," Davis said following the game. "I came out and wanted to punish guys. Then, later, I could show them some, you know, finesse. I wanted to set the tone early."
Davis and Wilds, Wilds and Davis. Thunder and Lightning, Lightning and Thunder.
Though Davis has been slated the starter, he is more than willing to share the work load with Wilds saying, "As far as splitting carries with Brandon...I think it's good for both of us. We don't have to take that much pounding. We can both come in a show different styles."
The combination combined for 179 yards which is 1 more yard than USC passed for against the Tar Heels (the other rushing yards are credited to Connow Shaw). One game is under the belts and there will be more questions to answer, but if game one is any indication of the rest of the season, the running game is in good hands with Davis and Wilds.
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