The running back situation

South Carolina football coach Shane Beamer delivered some bad news Thursday night, saying the top two running backs Mar Shawn Lloyd and Christian Beal Smith would miss this weekend’s game against Tennessee.

And they may not be back this season. Beamer didn’t seem overly optimistic that Lloyd, still leading the Southeastern Conference in touchdowns scored, would be back, and neither would Beal-Smith.

“I wouldn’t say they’re done for this year,” Beamer said. “I’m optimistic they can play next week but honestly, sitting here last Thursday I was optimistic that they can play this week. Sitting here before the Vanderbilt game on Thursday, I was optimistic that they were going to play Florida. They’re trying to work really, really hard in rehab to get back. For some reason they aren’t there yet, but it’s not for lack of trying. We’ll see where they go next week.”

What does this mean for the Gamecocks (6-4, 3-4) and the running game? Well, that’s what Beamer said on Thursday Jaheim bell and Juju McDowell are the guys who are giving the team the best chance of success at the moment.

“I’m in training every day and our coaches are and we’re playing against the guys we’ve seen in training gives us the best opportunity to be successful on Saturday,” Beamer said. “Right now, Juju and Jaheim are doing the best.”

There is a trio of backs – Rashad Amos, Lovasea Caroll and Dante Mueller – who didn’t get much run this year. Miller has six carries this season, Amos has one and Carroll hasn’t touched the football yet.

“Dante, Rashad and Lovasea keep working hard and keep trying to get better,” Beamer said. “When it’s running back, it’s not just carrying the ball; it’s about ball security, pass protection, ball catching, many different things. Rashad, Lovasea and Dante are really good football players, I’m not saying they aren’t, but at the moment Jaheim and Juju are through.”

Beamer does not rule the aforementioned trio who were relegated for the season. With the two injuries, Amos, Carroll and Miller get more chances in training, says the sophomore head coach. You have the opportunity to change the minds of the decision-makers by practicing from Sunday to Friday each week.

“You also need more than two running backs in a game,” Beamer said. “We’ve got three games left here so depending on the health of MarShawn and CBS, we’ll see what happens with the other guys. You have to make progress and you also get many opportunities to do so in practice.”

South Carolina meets Tennessee this Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will air on ESPN with Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit.