Steve Spurrier will be seeking his 200th collegiate win Saturday.
Garrick McGee will be seeking his first.
But make no mistake - the rookie UAB coach has the HBC's attention.
McGee came to UAB after a four-year stint at the University of Arkansas, where he spent the past two seasons as the Razorbacks' offensive coordinator. While there, he oversaw a ruthless passing attack that averaged 36.6 points per game in 2010 and 2011, including a pair of 41-point drubbings against South Carolina. At his Tuesday press conference, Spurrier remarked that Arkansas "made us look like an average bunch of stiffs" with McGee pulling the strings.
He'll now try to turn his new home into the University of Arkansas-Birmingham. The Gamecocks hope the transformation can wait another week.
Pre-snap reads before the Gamecocks and Blazers duke it out at Williams-Brice (7:08 p.m. EST, Gamecock IMG Sports Network):
Go Deep: He may not have the toy chest of playmakers that he had in Fayetteville, but McGee still knows how to dial up long passing plays. Led by junior quarterback Jonathan Perry, the Blazers averaged an explosive 17.6 yards per catch in their 39-29 loss to Troy September 1. That average currently ranks them 4th in the nation.
Highest Yards Per Catch (ypc) - 2012
1. Temple 19.9
2. Georgia Tech 18.8
3. New Mexico St. 18.6
4. UAB 17.6
It may seem counter-intuitive to take deep shots against Carolina - UAB is replacing 4 of 5 offensive line starters, and longer-developing plays mean more seconds for South Carolina's menacing pass rush. But Perry throws to an experienced receiving corps that returns 89.9% of its catches from a year ago (221 of 246). McGee, who also calls UAB's offensive plays, stressed a better tempo during the Blazers' bye week. Don't be surprised if UAB takes its chances.
Brison Williams (right) intercepts a deep pass against East Carolina. Will he be in the crosshairs again?
All Grabs, No Glory: Here's the clubhouse leader for most bizarre nugget I've uncovered this season.
Last year, UAB wideout Jackie Williams led the team with 58 catches... and zero touchdowns. That made him the most prolific receiver in the Football Bowl Subdivision without a touchdown catch.
Late Game Heroics: Perry, the Blazers quarterback, certainly has a flair for the dramatic. With 15 seconds left in the 2008 Maryland Class 1A State Championship game, Perry's Dunbar (Baltimore) HS faced a 4th down at their opponents' 14-yard line, trailing 19-12. Perry lined up in shotgun, but the snap whistled through his legs. By the time he scooped up the ball, he had retreated to the 30-yard line. Perry then snapped off a perfect strike to the left corner of the end zone, hitting a teammate for the touchdown.You can see the play here, beginning at the 1:00 mark. (Turn down the volume, unless you really like Soulja Boy.)
Low "Pressure" Situation? Whenever a new staff -- and scheme -- arrive at a school, you debate how much the previous year's statistics apply. Yet one number may prove hard to ignore: UAB tied for last in the nation in sacks last season (8.0). Jadeveon Clowney had that many by himself.
The Blazers again went sack-less in a season-opening loss to Troy, and to make matters worse, defensive coordinator Reggie Johnson said his team had too many missed tackles. Steve Spurrier wants to see better run- and pass-blocking vs. UAB. Spurrier wants to see better blocking from his offensive line, both in run support and pass protection. Can the Gamecocks impose their will in the trenches, and leave UAB out of position for QB hurries and tackles?
The Blazers again went sack-less in a season-opening loss to Troy, and to make matters worse, defensive coordinator Reggie Johnson said his team had too many missed tackles.
Steve Spurrier wants to see better run- and pass-blocking vs. UAB.
Spurrier wants to see better blocking from his offensive line, both in run support and pass protection. Can the Gamecocks impose their will in the trenches, and leave UAB out of position for QB hurries and tackles?
Problem Solving? It remained one of the riddles of pre-season: when facing a third down, who would replace Alshon Jeffery as the wideout capable of making a tough, drive-extending catch?
Carolina has evidently solved that problem by committee. In 5 third-down completions this year that have resulted in a first down, 5 different receivers have made the catch (Marcus Lattimore, Bruce Ellington, D.L. Moore, Shaq Roland, K.J. Brent). Credit quarterbacks Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson for spraying it around, and not allowing defenses to lock in on one target.
Quote of the Week: "I'm just grateful I got a second chance. Not many people get a second chance when you play in the SEC."
-Jimmy Legree, speaking to me for our pre-game radio interview. After two games last season, Legree was demoted from the starting lineup at free safety. Through two games this season, the junior cornerback leads the Gamecocks in tackles (12.0), and skated 34 yards for a pick-six against ECU.
Interceptions, it turns out, are part of Legree's DNA. Did you know: his second cousin, Mark Legree, led all of Division I with 10 interceptions in 2008 as an All-American safety for Appalachian State. He's currently on the practice squad with "Gamecocks South" (a.k.a., the Atlanta Falcons).
A Slice of Home: Defensive tackle Byron Jerideau and UAB wide receiver Nick Adams roomed together at Fort Scott Community College in Kansas. Jerideau told me they grew up 10 minutes from each other in Walterboro, S.C., and starred on the same Colleton County HS team. Their former coach, Mike Chandler, left Colleton County to join the Fort Scott staff, and recruited both Jerideau and Adams.
As you can tell by this picture, Marvin Burdette (right) has a ferocious nose for the football.
And Finally.... Do a Google search for UAB senior linebacker Marvin Burdette, and you're likely to get as many hits for Marvin Burdette, an Opthalmologist in Greenwood, S.C. No word on whether Greenwood HS alums Kelcy Quarles or D.J. Swearinger have gotten their eyes checked by him.
In fairness, Burdette has good vision himself - he's on pace to threaten UAB's all-time tackles record.
Now that we're prepared, we hope you are as well. Our pre-game coverage begins at 4:00 p.m. EST on the Gamecock IMG Sports Network. See you Saturday night. -AD--