Gamecocks, Harris set sights on 1,000-yard rushing milestone

Kevin Harris carries the ball against Georgia on November 28, 2020 at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Kevin Harris carries the ball against Georgia on November 28, 2020 at Williams-Brice Stadium.(South Carolina Athletics)
Updated: Dec. 1, 2020 at 4:26 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - It’s been seven seasons since South Carolina had a 1,000-yard rusher.

This weekend, the Gamecocks have the chance to change that. Heading into Saturday’s game, running back Kevin Harris is 72 yards shy of 1,000 yards.

“That’s one heck of a milestone, especially for a guy like Kevin, who’s had a great year and is going to have a great game for us on Saturday,” said Gamecocks freshman quarterback Luke Doty. “We finish out and get a win and get him to 1,000 yards, that’ll be awesome.”

To reach that mark, he’ll have to find some running room against Kentucky in the Gamecocks’ regular-season finale.

“I think it’s a goal that’s on our kids’ minds and not just Kevin,” said Gamecocks interim head coach Mike Bobo. “It’s something that the offense takes pride in, especially the offensive line and the running backs. They know how close he is and know what he’s meant to this football team offensively in the run game and the pass game and they want to see him get to 1,000 yards.”

This year, Harris has averaged just over 105 yards per game with his breakout performance coming against Ole Miss. Harris scored five touchdowns and rushed for a career-high 243 yards against the Rebels. Harris has also posted four 100-yard rushing games this season against SEC opponents. If Harris is able to accomplish the feat come Saturday, it would certainly be one of the better achievements he’s ever been a part of in college football.

“You’re playing against SEC opponents every week,” Bobo noted of the Gamecocks’ schedule. “We haven’t been really that balanced of a football team or have not been very proficient in the passing game. So, it has made running the ball a little bit more difficult. Now, we’ve done a good job of running a few different schemes. Coaches have done a good job game planning. The players have done a good job adjusting. We’ve given him a chance to be successful in some different types of runs. We’ve been creative in our run game is what I’m trying to say, but when you’re pretty much one dimensional like we’ve been and for him to do that against an all-SEC schedule, I think that speaks volumes of this offensive group and what they’ve done and obviously him.”

The last player to reach the 1,000-yard mark as a rusher for Carolina was Mike Davis in 2013. Davis rushed for 1,183 yards. Currently, Davis sits in fourth for most rushing yards in a season. Harris has one more shot to crack the top 10 and surpass George Rogers’ 1978 mark of 1,006 yards.

Regardless of what happens Saturday, Harris is already in the Carolina record books. He is currently tied for third in program history with Rogers for most rushing touchdowns in a season with 14. He needs three more to break that record, which is also held by Marcus Lattimore.

While the record is important, Bobo said he and the coaching staff aren’t leaning toward finding ways to get Harris extra carries to reach the milestone. However, he noted that Harris would have plenty of opportunities to reach it.

“You can’t approach a game like that,” Bobo said when asked about find extra chances for Harris on Saturday. “Now...if the game’s out of hand, you might say, ‘What’s he at? He needs another carry,’ but you’re playing a game and trying to win the game. He’ll have an opportunity because he’s such a vital part of our offense and with [Deshaun] Fenwick down and being the last game, he’ll have enough carries to have that opportunity.”

Harris and the Gamecocks travel to Kentucky to face the Wildcats on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

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