Gamecock Gameday: Football Hosts Vanderbilt On Saturday
Sept. 13, 2013
COLUMBIA, S.C. - The No. 13/14 South Carolina Gamecocks (1-1, 0-1 SEC) return home to face the Vanderbilt Commodores (1-1, 0-1 SEC) on Saturday, September 14. Game time is set for 7 p.m. ET with ESPN handling the telecast from Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250). Brad Nessler will be behind the mic with Todd Blackledge adding the game analysis and Holly Rowe working the sidelines. This is the second-straight SEC Eastern Division contest for Carolina. The Gamecocks dropped a 41-30 decision last week at Georgia in their 2013 SEC opener. This has become an early season "must win" for both schools if they hope to remain in the hunt for the SEC Eastern Division title, as they both enter the contest with a loss in their only conference test of the season.
A LITTLE HISTORY: 2013 marks the 120th season of intercollegiate football at the University of South Carolina, dating back to 1892. It is the 107th-consecutive year in which South Carolina has competed on the gridiron. The University did not field a team in either 1893 or 1906. Carolina is 20 games over the .500 mark with an all-time record of 566-546-44. The Gamecocks were nine games under .500 until head coach Steve Spurrier took the reins in 2005, but are 29 games over since.
SEC HISTORY: The 2013 season marks South Carolina's 22nd year in the Southeastern Conference. South Carolina and Arkansas joined the league prior to the 1992 campaign. The Gamecocks earned their first SEC Eastern Division title in the 2010 season. The Gamecocks are 72-96-1 all-time in SEC regular-season play, but are 17-8 since 2010 in conference action.
VS. VANDY: This is the 23rd all-time meeting between South Carolina and Vanderbilt, with the Gamecocks holding an 18-4 advantage, including a 10-2 record when the games have been played in Nashville and an 8-2 mark when the teams have met in Columbia. In the previous 22 outings, Vanderbilt has tallied more than 17 points just three times (24 in 2003, 28 in 2005 and 24 in 2008). Carolina won last year's meeting in Nashville by a 17-13 count in the season opener, and posted a 21-3 win two years ago when the teams last meet in Columbia. The Gamecocks have won four straight in the series and 11 of the last 13. In those last four wins, Carolina has surrendered just 33 total points. Vandy's four wins have come in back-to-back fashion on two occasions - first in 1998 and `99, then again in 2007 and `08. Those four wins have been by a combined total of 22 points. The teams met just once (1961) before they became SEC Eastern Division rivals beginning in 1992, and have met every year since. Of the Division I FBS opponents against whom the Gamecocks have at least 10 all-time meetings, Carolina has its best winning percentage against Vanderbilt at .818.
SPURRIER VS. VANDERBILT: South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier owns an 18-2 all-time record against Vanderbilt, including a 6-2 mark as head coach at South Carolina. He was a perfect 10-0 against the Commodores while head coach at Florida from 1990-2001, and bested Vanderbilt twice in 1987 and 1988 while head coach at Duke. The only team Coach Spurrier has defeated more often than Vanderbilt in his career is Kentucky (19-1).
SPURRIER VS. FRANKLIN: Steve Spurrier has faced Vanderbilt's James Franklin twice, winning both of those contests. He was a 21-3 winner in Columbia in 2011, then won by a 17-13 count in Nashville last year.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: The Gamecocks opened the 2012 season with a 17-13 win at SEC Eastern Division rival Vanderbilt on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. The Gamecocks survived two turnovers on their first three plays from scrimmage and took a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter. The Commodores rallied back to take a 13-10 lead heading into the final stanza. But Carolina was able to put together a nine-play, 66-yard drive that culminated in a Marcus Lattimore one-yard plunge to take a 17-13 advantage early in the fourth quarter, then held on for the win. The Gamecock defense held Vandy to just 17 yards in the final period. Lattimore led the Carolina offense with 110 yards rushing and two scores, earning SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors, while quarterback Connor Shaw carried 14 times for 92 yards as the Gamecocks rolled up 205 yards on the ground. Senior linebacker Shaq Wilson tied for the team lead with eight tackles and also logged a key interception. Carolina recorded five sacks that night.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET IN COLUMBIA: The No. 12/10 Gamecocks used a dominant defensive effort to defeat the Commodores, 21-3, on Sept. 24, 2011 in Columbia. Vanderbilt garnered just 77 yards of offense (73 passing and four rushing), while committing three turnovers and surrendering six sacks. Meanwhile, Carolina gained 367 yards of offense. Marcus Lattimore rushed for 77 yards and a score and had 73 yards receiving, including a back-breaking 52-yard scoring reception with just 13 seconds remaining in the first half.
ABOUT LAST WEEK: The sixth-ranked Gamecocks traveled to Athens and suffered their first loss of the season, a 41-30 decision to the No. 12-ranked Georgia Bulldogs. After kicking a field goal on their first possession, the Gamecocks fell behind by a 17-3 count before rebounding to tie the score at 24 at the half. Georgia's high-powered offense proved to be too much in the second half, as the Bulldogs pulled away for the victory behind Aaron Murray's 309 passing yards and four touchdowns, and Todd Gurley's 132 yards on the ground with one TD. Connor Shaw threw for 228 yards and two touchdowns and Mike Davis logged a career-best 149 yards on the ground to keep the Gamecocks in the contest. Nick Jones had his best game as a member of the Garnet & Black, catching six passes for 97 yards and two scores. The loss snapped Carolina's six-game winning streak (the sixth-longest in the nation) and was also their first loss against Georgia since 2009.
DAVIS LEADS THE CHARGE: Marcus Lattimore will never be forgotten by the Gamecock faithful, but Mike Davis is certainly doing his best to soften the loss. The 5-9, 215-pound sophomore from Lithonia, Ga. logged the first 100-yard rushing game of his career with a 115-yard performance against North Carolina in his first career start. Included was a 75-yard scamper, the longest for a Gamecock since Bobby Wallace went 88 yards against Middle Tennessee in 2006, and tying for the 12th-longest run from scrimmage in school history. He came back last week at Georgia, playing in his home state for the first time, and responded with a 149-yard effort on just 16 carries, an average of 9.3 yards per tote, with one touchdown. He also went for a 75-yard gain for the second-straight week. After two games, Davis is fourth in the SEC and 14th in the country in rushing at 132.0 yards per contest and is third among the SEC leaders in average yards per carry at 9.4.
100-YARD EFFORTS: The Gamecocks already have two 100-yard rushing games this season after notching just four a season ago when they got three from Marcus Lattimore and one from Kenny Miles. Mike Davis has back-to-back 100-yard rushing games, becoming the third player on the roster with a 100-yard rushing game in his career, joining Brandon Wilds (3) and Connor Shaw (1). Both Wilds and Shaw turned in their 100-yard efforts during the 2011 campaign.
BACK-TO-BACK 75's: Mike Davis has scampered for a 75-yard run in each of the first two games. A 75-yard or longer run has only been accomplished 14 times in Gamecock history, and Davis is the first to do it twice. After two weeks, there have been 16 running plays of 75 yards or longer in Division I football and Davis is the only player on the list twice.
LIL' NICKY: Junior wide receiver Nick Jones is not the biggest guy on the roster or have the most raw talent. All he does is catch passes. The 5-7, 174-pounder from Moore, S.C. had his best game as a Gamecock, catching six passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns in the loss at Georgia, all career highs. His TD catches came from 18 and 30 yards out. His previous highs were four receptions (4 times) and 78 receiving yards. He had just one career touchdown before Saturday's effort. For the season, he is the team's top receiver with 10 catches for 118 yards and two scores.
SHAW-SHAQ RECEPTION: Senior quarterback Connor Shaw and sophomore wide receiver Shaq Roland hooked up for a 65-yard touchdown pass on the third play from scrimmage in the season-opening win over North Carolina. Last week at Georgia, the two hooked up three times for 48 yards. For the season, Roland, a former Mr. Football in the state of South Carolina, has five catches for a team-leading 123 yards and a score.
HE'S OUR GURLEY, MAN: Sophomore safety T.J. Gurley has been impressive in the early going as he comes back from knee surgery that ended his 2012 season prematurely. He stepped in for an injured Kadetrix Marcus in the opener and responded with a team-leading and career-high nine tackles. Making his first start of the season in his home state last week at Georgia, the Cairo, Ga. native responded with another career-high in tackles, registering 11 stops, including eight solos. He ranks in a tie for third in the SEC, averaging 10.0 tackles per game, including a league-best 15 solo stops.
FIRST TIME STARTERS: Ten Gamecocks have made their first career starts this season. Eight made their first career start in the season-opening win over North Carolina. The first-time starters included four on offense (TB Mike Davis, TE Drew Owens, WR Shaq Roland and OC Cody Waldrop) and four on defense (Spur Sharrod Golightly, LB Kaiwan Lewis, SS Kadetrix Marcus and LB Marcquis Roberts). OC Clayton Stadnik and CB Ahmad Christian both made their first career starts at Georgia.
CAPTAINS: The Gamecocks will have individual game captains through the early part of the season.
MAKING HISTORY: The Gamecocks have put together back-to-back 11-win seasons, the first back-to-back, double-digit win seasons in school history. They have logged two of their three 10-or more win seasons in the last two years. The only previous 10-win campaign came in 1984. Entering the 2013 campaign, the Gamecocks have won 22 games over the past two seasons, 31 over the past three seasons, and 38 over the past four seasons, all school records.
TOP-10 PROGRAM: The Gamecocks have put together back-to-back Top 10 finishes for the first time in school history, finishing ninth in 2011 and eighth in 2012 according to the Associated Press. They finished one spot higher in the Coaches' poll both years. The Gamecocks have finished among the nation's Top 25 for three-straight seasons, another "first" in school history. Here are South Carolina's final AP Top-25 rankings:
THE RANKINGS-2013: The Gamecocks entered the 2013 season with the highest national ranking in school history. They opened the season sixth in the Associated Press poll and seventh in the USA Today/Coaches poll. The previous high to open a season came in 2012 when they opened at No. 9 in both major polls. They were ranked sixth in both polls after week one, but slipped to No. 13 in the Associated Press poll and No. 14 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll this week following a road loss at Georgia when they were the underdog.
IN THE POLLS: The Gamecocks have been ranked in the Associated Press Top-25 for 50-consecutive polls, starting with the second week of the 2010 season. That is the longest consecutive streak in school history. According to research compiled by "The Blitz," South Carolina was ranked in the A.P. poll 148 times from 1936-2011, 14 times as a member of the ACC (1936-1970), 57 times as a Independent (1971-1991) and 77 times since joining the SEC prior to the 2012 season.
YES THEY CALL IT A STREAK: The Gamecocks are tied for the fifth-longest current streak of being ranked in the Associated Press's Top 25. Carolina and Stanford have been ranked for 50-consecutive weeks, trailing only Alabama, LSU, Oregon and Oklahoma.
GOOD HOME COOKIN': The Gamecocks have won their last 12 games at Williams-Brice Stadium. Carolina is 28-3 in its last 31 home games. The only home losses since 2009 came to top-ranked Florida in 2009, to 17th-ranked Arkansas in 2010 and to defending national champion Auburn in 2011. The Gamecocks' 12-game home winning streak is the third-longest in the nation, trailing only Michigan (16) and Georgia (13).
TOP HOME STREAKS: The Gamecocks have won 12-straight home games, their longest stretch since joining the SEC and the third-longest streak in school history. A win over the Commodores would tie for the second-longest home winning streak, set from 1986-88. Here are the top home winning streaks:
YEARS - WINS
PERFECT AT HOME: The Gamecocks went 7-0 at home in 2012. It marked the first time they ran the table at home since joining the SEC. The last time they went undefeated at home was in 1987. They have been undefeated and untied at home 10 times.
THE HEAD BALL COACH: Steve Spurrier is in his ninth season directing the Gamecock football program. He has logged a 67-38 mark (.638) in Columbia. The Head Ball Coach is Carolina's winningest coach with 67 victories and is second in games coached with 105, behind Rex Enright (140). Coach Spurrier owns a 209-78-2 mark (.727) in 24 seasons as a collegiate head coach, with previous stops at Duke and Florida.
AT THE TOP OF THE LEADERBOARD: Head coach Steve Spurrier recorded his 65th victory at South Carolina in his 102nd career game as the Gamecocks' head coach in 2012 the regular-season finale at Clemson. He surpassed Rex Enright (64) for the most coaching wins in school history. He now owns 67 wins at South Carolina. He is also the winningest coach at Florida with 122 victories. The legendary Bear Bryant (60 at Kentucky and 232 at Alabama) is the only other coach to own the most wins at two SEC schools.
TOPS IN HIS FIELD: Steve Spurrier became the 71st head college football coach (all divisions) and the 22nd in Division I history to record 200 wins when he accomplished that feat against UAB in 2012. He ranks third among active Division I coaches with 209 wins. In addition, the HBC has 47 wins as a head coach at the professional level, giving him 256 career coaching wins.
NEW TERRITORY: The 2013 Outback Bowl marked the seventh time Coach Spurrier has taken Carolina to a bowl game. They have been bowl-eligible in each of his eight campaigns. No other coach in history has taken the Gamecocks to more than three bowl games. Coach Spurrier is 3-4 in bowl games at Carolina, including back-to-back bowl wins over Nebraska (Capital One Bowl) and Michigan (Outback Bowl). He is the only Gamecock coach to post three bowl victories.
HAVING A SENIOR MOMENT: The Gamecocks list five seniors on their roster, including four scholarship seniors. That is the fewest number of seniors in Division I football in 2013. The quintet includes QB Connor Shaw, OG Ronald Patrick, DE Chaz Sutton, CB Jimmy Legree and walk-on WR David Wilkins. Interestingly, the Gamecocks will face four of the top 14 schools that list the fewest seniors (North Carolina, UCF, Mississippi State and Clemson).
SHAW GETS THE START: Senior quarterback Connor Shaw returns for his final campaign. Shaw, a 6-1, 209-pounder from Flowery Branch, Ga., is 18-4 as a starter, including a 11-0 mark at home. He and Jeff Grantz are the only two players in school history to pass for over 3,000 yards and rush for over 1,000 yards. In the loss at Georgia, he became the ninth player in school history to pass for over 4,000 yards in a career, hence becoming the first 4,000-1,000 player in school history. He is the school's all-time leader in completion percentage at 66.2 percent and is sixth with 35 touchdown passes.
THROWING STRIKES: When the Gamecocks pitch it around the park, there's been no one who has been more accurate in school history than Connor Shaw. The top two and three of the top five quarterbacks in completion percentage have worked under Coach Spurrier:
QB WINS SINCE 1971: Here are the starting quarterbacks with the most wins at South Carolina since 1971:
WAITING IN THE WINGS: Junior Dylan Thompson is ready and waiting to take some snaps as well. Thompson, a 6-3, 218-pounder from Boiling Springs, S.C., stepped in admirably last season when Shaw was beset by injuries. He led the Gamecocks to wins over East Carolina and Clemson in his two starts, throwing for over 300 yards on both occasions. He also was 7-of-10 for 117 yards and two touchdowns in the bowl win over Michigan, including the game-winning 32-yard pass to Bruce Ellington with just 11 seconds remaining in the contest. Thompson completed a 29-yard touchdown pass to Kane Whitehurst in the season opener against North Carolina, the only snap he took from scrimmage. With that, Thompson's last two passes have both gone for TDs.
CATCH THIS: Junior Bruce Ellington is the top returning receiver. He logged 40 receptions for 600 yards and seven touchdowns last season and has 824 yards on 58 career receptions but was slowed in camp by a hamstring injury and did not start against UNC. He returned to full speed against Georgia, but caught just one pass for 13 yards. Junior Damiere Byrd (17 catches, 404 yards), the fastest player on the team, and junior Nick Jones (34 catches, 458 yards) are the other two wideouts with the most experience.
STELLAR TIGHT ENDS: The Gamecocks are blessed with a pair of standout tight ends. Junior Rory "Busta" Anderson is an All-SEC candidate. He has 23 career receptions for 470 yards with eight touchdowns. He did not play in the opener against UNC due to a hamstring injury. Sophomore Jerell Adams averaged over 22 yards a catch on just four receptions last season. He also was limited against UNC with an ankle injury. With Anderson checking in at 6-5, 242, and Adams at 6-6, 237, both can present a matchup challenge for a defense.
THE O-LINE: The Gamecocks have four returning starters along the offensive line. Junior left guard A.J. Cann is the most experienced of the group with 27 career starts, the most on the squad, and is an All-SEC candidate. Senior right guard Ronald Patrick started all 13 games last season. Junior left tackle Corey Robinson started nine of the last 10 games a season ago, while right tackle Brandon Shell was a Freshman All-American while making 10 starts. The lone newcomer is redshirt freshman Cody Waldrop, who has big shoes to fill in replacing T.J. Johnson, who graduated as the school's all-time leader with 53 starts, having started every game from 2009-12. Waldrop was hampered by a foot sprain suffered in the win over North Carolina, and was unable to play at Georgia. He was replaced admirably by redshirt freshman Clayton Stadnik, who saw his first career action.
AS GOOD AS IT GETS: The 2013 Gamecocks feature one of the game's top players in junior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney, who is regarded by most as the top defensive player in the country and a likely top pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, was just the second Gamecock to earn unanimous All-America honors in 2012, joining George Rogers from his Heisman Trophy season in 1980. Clowney was named the Hendricks Award winner as the nation's top defensive end, and the All-America Player of the Year, presented by AT&T as selected by the fans on ESPN.com. He finished sixth in the Heisman race and was a finalist for the Nagurski Trophy, Rotary Lombardi Award and the Bednarik Award after being named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year by the league's coaches.
THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN: Fresh off his trip to L.A. to receive the ESPY Award for the top play of the year, Jadeveon Clowney returns to cause havoc for quarterbacks around the southeast. Clowney set school records last season for sacks in a game (4.5 at Clemson), sacks in a season (13.0) and tackles for loss in a season (23.5) as a sophomore. The 6-6, 274-pounder is on everyone's preseason All-America list and a legitimate candidate for all the national awards. With a sack and 2.0 tackles for loss at Georgia, he continues to move up the all-time Carolina charts in those categories. Here's where he ranks on Carolina's all-time lists after just two-plus seasons:
TACKLES FOR LOSS
HE'S NOT ALONE: Jadeveon Clowney is not the only Gamecock who can get to the quarterback. Fifth-year senior Chaz Sutton, who has spent the past two years backing up Clowney and Devin Taylor (now with the Detroit Lions), logged 5.0 sacks last season and has 14.0 tackles for loss during his career. Junior defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles, who has made some preseason All-SEC squads, mans the middle of the line. The 6-4, 298-pounder logged 3.5 sacks and 8.0 tackles for loss last season.
WHO ARE YOU?: The Gamecocks graduated five seniors who manned the linebacker and spur positions a year ago and will look to a host of youngsters to fill in those slots this season. Sophomores Kaiwan Lewis and Marcquis Roberts started at the two linebacker spots in the season opener, but will be pushed to hold onto those starting assignments. Sophomore Cedrick Cooper, who dislocated his elbow in the preseason, and redshirt freshman T.J. Holloman will also get plenty of opportunities this season. A trio of true freshmen, Skai Moore, Larenz Bryant and Jonathan Walton, have been impressive as well, and could log some important minutes. Lewis (15), Moore (13) and Roberts (11) rank 2-3-4 among the Gamecocks' leaders in tackles this season.
FRY HEATS UP: True freshman Elliott Fry walked on to the Gamecock squad this summer and earned the starting placekicking chores in the opener. The Frisco, Texas product was impressive against North Carolina, hitting on both of his field goal attempts from 39 and 26 yards, and all three of his extra points for nine total points. He became the first true freshman placekicker to kick in the Gamecocks' season opener since Courtney Leavitt in 1996. He hit a 36-yard field goal in his only attempt at Georgia to improve his numbers to 3-for-3 in that department, tying for third in the SEC.
HULL OF A PUNTER: Junior Tyler Hull returns for his second season as the Gamecocks' punter. The 6-2, 206-pounder from Mount Airy, N.C. spent his first season at Guilford College before transferring to South Carolina just prior to the start of the 2012 campaign. Last season, he averaged 39.4 yards per punt. 22 of his 54 punts were fair catches, while 12 went inside the 20. This year he is averaging 36.9 yards per punt with two of his seven inside the 20 with a long of 48.
LOOKING AHEAD: The Gamecocks enjoy an off week next week before heading on the road for a non-conference test at UCF in Orlando on Saturday, September 28. The Gamecocks are 3-0 against the Knights, but all three of those contests were played in Columbia, in 1996, 1997 and 2005 (Coach Spurrier's first game at the helm of the program). South Carolina's last trip to Columbia resulted in a 30-13 win over Nebraska in the 2012 Capital One Bowl.