Sept. 28, 2012
The No. 6/6 South Carolina Gamecocks (4-0, 2-0 SEC) hit the road this week after three straight home games when they travel to Lexington to face the Kentucky Wildcats (1-3, 0-1 SEC) in another SEC Eastern Division contest on Saturday, September 29. The game will be played at Commonwealth Stadium (67,952) with kickoff set for 7 pm ET. The game will be televised on ESPN2 with Mike Patrick and Ed Cunningham in the booth and Jeannine Edwards working the sidelines.
A LITTLE HISTORY: 2012 marks the 119th season of intercollegiate football at the University of South Carolina, dating back to 1892. It is the 106th-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 15 games over the .500 mark with an all-time record of 558-543-44. The Gamecocks were nine games under .500 until head coach Steve Spurrier took the reins in 2005, but are 24 games over since.
CAROLINA VS. KENTUCKY: This is the 24th game in the series that dates back to 1937 between the Gamecocks and Wildcats. Carolina leads the all-time series 15-7-1, including an 8-4 mark in Lexington. South Carolina rolled to a 54-3 win in Columbia last season, but Kentucky won the last meeting in Lexington in 2010, 31-28, snapping South Carolina's 10-game winning streak in the series. The teams played just three times (1937, 1978 and 1981) before Carolina joined the SEC for the 1992 season. Since then, they have met every year. Since joining the league, the Gamecocks own a 14-6 record against UK, including wins in 11 of the 12 meetings in this century.
SPURRIER VS. KENTUCKY: South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier owns an 18-1 all-time record against Kentucky, including a 6-1 mark as head coach at South Carolina. The 18 wins matches his mark against Vanderbilt (18-2) as his most wins against any school. He also has double-digit wins against Georgia (14-5), Tennessee (13-8), LSU (11-3), Auburn (10-8) and South Carolina (10-1). Coach Spurrier's offenses have scored 30+ points in 14 of 19 games against Kentucky, including 10 games of 40+ points.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: Connor Shaw threw for a career-high 311 yards and four touchdowns to lead No. 18/14 South Carolina to a convincing 54-3 win over Kentucky in Columbia on Oct. 8, 2011. Shaw completed 26-of-39 passes as Carolina rolled up 639 yards of total offense in the contest, the most in the Steve Spurrier Era at South Carolina. Meanwhile, the Gamecock defense stifled Kentucky all day, limiting the Wildcats to just 96 yards of offense, including 17 through the air, forcing six turnovers. For more on the game, see page 11.
THE LAST TIME IN LEXINGTON: Carolina rolled to a 28-10 halftime advantage, but Marcus Lattimore went down with an ankle injury and so did the Gamecock fortunes in a 31-28 loss in Lexington on Oct. 16, 2010. Lattimore had 212 yards of total offense and three touchdowns before the injury. Mike Hartline rallied the Wildcats with three second-half touchdown tosses, including one to Randall Cobb with just 1:15 left in the contest. Hartline finished the game with a career-high 349 yards passing. Stephen Garcia hit on 20-of-32 passes for a career-high 382 yards in the contest, but could not get the Gamecocks on the board in the second half. It snapped Carolina's 10-game winning streak in the series and was the first loss Kentucky had put on Steve Spurrier in 18 career meetings.
STREAKING INTO THE RECORD BOOKS: The Gamecocks have stretched their winning streak to eight games dating back to last season, the second-longest streak in school history, topped only by the school record nine-game stretch to open the 1984 season. There have been seven winning streaks of six games or more in school history, including two during the Spurrier Era. Here are the top streaks:
HOT AS THEY COME: The Gamecocks' eight-game winning streak ties for the third-longest current winning streak in the country. TCU holds the longest current winning streak at 11 games, followed by Baylor at nine games. South Carolina is tied with Alabama for the third-longest current winning streak at eight games.
FAST STARTS: The Gamecocks are off to a 4-0 start for the second straight season and for just the ninth time in school history. Four of those have come since the turn of the century (2000, 2001, 2011 and 2012).
IN FRONT IN THE SEC: The Gamecocks are 2-0 in SEC play for just the fourth time in their 21-year history in the league. They opened 2-0 in 2000 with home wins over Georgia and Mississippi State before losing at Alabama. That squad improved to 5-1 in conference action before finishing at 5-3. In 2001 the Gamecocks opened with wins at Georgia, at Mississippi State, vs. Alabama and at Kentucky to go 4-0 in SEC play before losing at Arkansas and finishing 5-3 in league action. Last year's squad opened with wins at Georgia and vs. Vanderbilt before losing to Auburn. That team finished a school-best mark of 6-2 in SEC action.
THE HEAD BALL COACH: Steve Spurrier is in his eighth season directing the Gamecock football program. He has logged a 59-35 mark (.628) in Columbia. Coach Spurrier needs six wins to take sole possession as the school's all-time leader in career victories. The Head Ball Coach ranks second on the school's all-time wins list with 59 behind only Rex Enright (64) and third in games coached with 94 behind Enright (140) and Paul Dietzel (96). Spurrier owns a 201-75-2 mark (.726) in 23 seasons as a collegiate head coach, with stops at Duke and Florida before his stint at South Carolina.
TOPS IN HIS FIELD: Steve Spurrier became just the 71st head college football coaches (all divisions) and the 22nd in Division I history to record 200 wins when he accomplished that feat against UAB. He ranks fourth among active Division I coaches with 201 wins.
CLOSING IN ON 250: In addition to his 201 wins as a college coach, Steve Spurrier has an additional 47 wins as a head coach at the professional level, 35 with Tampa Bay in the USFL and 12 with Washington in the NFL, giving him 248 career coaching wins. He needs just two wins to notch No. 250 in his career.
UNCHARTED TERRITORY: Head coach Steve Spurrier has taken the Gamecocks to six bowl games in his seven-year tenure. The Gamecocks have been bowl-eligible in all seven of his seasons in Columbia, but were not selected following the 2007 season with a 6-6 record. No other coach in Carolina history has taken the Gamecocks to more than three bowl games (Jim Carlen and Joe Morrison). Coach Spurrier is 2-4 in bowl games at South Carolina. He and Lou Holtz are the only Gamecock coaches to post two bowl victories.
GOOD HOME COOKIN': The Gamecocks have done an excellent job of protecting their home turf of late, winning their last seven games at Williams-Brice Stadium. The Gamecocks were 6-1 at home in 2011, the third straight year in which they won six-of-seven home contests. The only home losses in the last three years came to top-ranked Florida in 2009, to 17th-ranked Arkansas in 2010 and to defending national champion Auburn in 2011. Carolina is 23-3 in its last 26 home games.
AND NOT BAD ON THE ROAD EITHER: With a win at Vandy to start the season, Carolina has won seven of its last eight true road games since falling at Kentucky in 2010. The Gamecocks had their school record six-game road winning streak snapped at Arkansas late in the 2011 season. Carolina finished the 2011 campaign with a 3-1 road record (wins at Georgia, Mississippi State and Tennessee, loss at Arkansas), its best road record since posting a 4-1 mark in 2006 (wins at Mississippi State, Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Clemson, loss at Florida).
GAINING THE SWEEP: The Gamecocks are 2-0 against SEC Eastern Division foes this season, winning the season opener at Vanderbilt and at home against Missouri last week. They posted a perfect 5-0 mark against SEC Eastern Division rivals in 2011, a first in school history. They have won 10 straight and 11 of their last 12 contests within the division. They had never won more than four games in the division prior to Coach Spurrier's arrival. He has posted four or more wins in the division three times in seven seasons:
IN THE POLLS: The Gamecocks have been ranked in the Associated Press Top-25 for 36 consecutive polls, starting with to 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.
AND THE BEST START ON RECORD: The Gamecocks opened the 2012 season ranked ninth in both the Associated Press and USA Today/Coaches' polls. It was the first time the Gamecocks were ranked in the preseason Top-10 in history. This week, Carolina are No. 6 in the AP poll. It's the Gamecocks highest AP ranking since they checked in at No. 6 after defeating North Carolina in 2007 to run their record to 6-1.
WOULD YOU BELIEVE... 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 36 consecutive weeks. Only Alabama, LSU, Oregon and Oklahoma have consecutive streaks longer in the AP Top-25 than the Gamecocks and Cardinal.
RK Team Weeks
ABOUT LAST WEEK: The Gamecocks dominated Missouri from start to finish in a 31-10 rout last Saturday afternoon in Columbia. Connor Shaw set a school record by completing 20 consecutive passes, hitting on 20-of-21 in the game for 249 yards and two touchdowns to lead the way. Marcus Lattimore added 85 rushing yards and two scores as the Gamecocks rolled up 396 yards of offense, compared to just 255 for the Tigers. Lattimore also caught seven passes for another 60 yards. Special teams also played a factor, as Bruce Ellington set up one TD with a 50-yard kickoff return, while Ace Sanders had six punt returns for 106 yards, including a 49-yarder. Backup linebacker Quin Smith led the defense with 10 tackles.
NEARLY PERFECT: Connor Shaw set a school record by completing his final 20 pass attempts in the win over Missouri. He has tied for the second-longest completion streak in SEC history with Kent Austin from Ole Miss (1982), three shy of the record of 23 set by Tennessee's Tee Martin (1998). Shaw finished the day 20-of-21, a .952 completion percentage, topping the previous South Carolina record of .941, set by Gordon Beckham (16-of-17) against North Carolina in 1981.
COCK `N FIRE RETURNS: The Gamecocks have thrown for 971 yards over the past three games, an average of 323.7 yards per game. They threw for 397 yards in the win over ECU, the most yards passing in a game for Carolina in the Steve Spurrier Era, surpassing the 391 recorded against Middle Tennessee in 2006. In fact, the 397 yards passing were the most for a South Carolina team since they threw for a school-record 490 yards against Mississippi State in 1995. Carolina came back with a 322-yard passing performance, using four quarterbacks, in the win over UAB. They added another 252 yards passing in the win over Missouri. That all comes on the heels of a 67-yard passing performance in the season opener at Vanderbilt.
DEFENDING THE GOAL LINE: Carolina has surrendered 39 points through the first four games (13 at Vanderbilt, 10 vs. ECU, 6 vs. UAB, 10 vs. Missouri), ranking second in the SEC and fifth in the country in scoring defense at 9.75 points per game. The last time Carolina allowed that few of points in the first four games of the season was in 2004, when they allowed 36 points (6 at Vanderbilt, 20 vs. Georgia, 3 vs. South Florida and 7 vs. Troy).
TOUGH AGAINST THE RUN: Carolina has been solid against the run this season, surrendering fewer than 100 yards in three of the first four games. For the season, the Gamecocks rank third in the SEC and eighth in the country in rushing defense, allowing just 67.0 yards per contest. The Gamecocks have not allowed a rushing touchdown this season. Here are the leaders:
AND IMPRESSIVE IN THE REDZONE: The Gamecocks have allowed their four opponents to venture inside the 20-yard line eight times this season, but have surrendered just 19 points on one touchdown and four field goals. The only touchdown allowed came in the final minute in the rout over Missouri when the outcome had long since been decided.
SACK ATTACK: The Gamecocks racked up a season-high six sacks in the win over UAB, and own 15 sacks on the season. Sophomore Jadeveon Clowney leads the way with 4.5 sacks, while Chaz Sutton has added 3.0. The team ranks second in the league and tied for seventh in the country in sacks per game at 3.75.
GETTING IN THE SACK: Here are the individual Gamecocks' sack totals for 2012 and career:
Player 2012 Sacks Career Sacks Devin Taylor 0.0 15.5 Jadeveon Clowney4.5 12.5 Byron Jerideau 1.0 4.5 Chaz Sutton 3.0 4.0 Kelcy Quarles 2.0 2.0 Shaq Wilson 0.0 2.0 Akeem Auguste 0.0 1.0 Gerald Dixon 1.0 1.0 Aldrick Fordham 1.0 1.0 Quin Smith 1.0 1.0 Brison Williams 1.0 1.0
SHAW AT THE HELM: Connor Shaw is 11-1 as a starting quarterback, the best record after 12 games of any signal-caller in Carolina history. The 6-1, 207-pounder junior from Flowery Branch, Ga. can beat you with his legs (like he did when he carried for 92 yards in the opener at Vanderbilt) or his arm (as he did when he completed 20-of-21 attempts for 249 yards against Missouri). For the season, he has completed 76.1 percent of his attempts for 423 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. He owns an efficiency rating of 166.2, fourth in the SEC. For his career, he has completed 67.8 percent of his passes for 2,094 yards and 18 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. He also has rushed 198 times for 817 yards with eight scores. His completion percentage ranks first in school history. Shaw was honored as the SEC's co-Offensive Player of the Week against Mizzou.
THOMPSON STEPS IN AND STEPS UP: Redshirt sophomore Dylan Thompson made his first start in place of the injured Connor Shaw against ECU and responded with an impressive performance. After entering the game with just two completions in five career attempts for 17 yards, Thompson connected on 21-of-37 passes for 330 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He came off the bench against UAB after Shaw was re-injured and produced again, hitting 5-of-10 passes for 177 yards and two TDs. For the season, Thompson is 27-of-52 for 510 yards and five touchdowns with no INTs. He has a passing efficiency rating of 166.00, the fifth-best mark in the SEC.
COMING UP ACES: Junior wide receiver Ace Sanders has done it all this season. He is third on the team with eight catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns, has returned a dozen punts for a 16.3-yard average - third in the SEC, including a 49-yarder against Missouri, and completed a 16-yard touchdown pass to D.L. Moore in the win over ECU. It was his third career pass and his second completion and second touchdown. He also threw a 3-yard TD pass to Stephen Garcia in the 2010 Chick-fil-A Bowl. Sanders was honored as the SEC's co-Special Teams Player of the Week vs. Mizzou.
RECORDS KEEP FALLING: Marcus Lattimore's 2-yard touchdown run in the second quarter against Missouri broke the school record for rushing touchdowns scored in a career. He added another TD run less than a minute later, giving him 33 for his career, two more than George Rogers and Harold Green. Lattimore is also the school record holder with 36 career scores (three on pass receptions).
MAKING A POINT: Marcus Lattimore is just the fifth player in school history to eclipse the 200-point plateau. Lattimore has now scored 216 career points, joining Collin Mackie (330), Ryan Succop (251), George Rogers (202) and Reed Morton (201). Lattimore ranks in a tie for fifth among active NCAA players in rushing TDs (the only junior in the top eight). For more Lattimore numbers, see page 12 of the notes.
BREAKING THE CENTURY MARK: The Gamecocks have three tailbacks who have rushed for 100 or more yards in a game for a combined 15 times. Junior Marcus Lattimore leads the way with nine 100-yard rushing games, while senior Kenny Miles and sophomore Brandon Wilds each have three 100-yard rushing contests. In addition, quarterback Connor Shaw has one 100-yard rushing game to his credit.
NINE FOR MARCUS: Tailback Marcus Lattimore has returned to the gridiron after suffering a season-ending knee injury at Mississippi State last October. The junior carried 23 times for 110 yards and two touchdowns in the opener at Vanderbilt. It was his ninth career 100-yard rushing game, moving him into a tie for fifth in school history with Duce Staley and Derek Watson. Here are the school leaders:
Rk. Player 100-Yd Games 1. George Rogers 27 2. Brandon Bennett 11 2. Harold Green 11 4. Steve Wadiak 10 5. Duce Staley 9 5. Derek Watson 9 5. Marcus Lattimore 9
AMONG THE LEADERS: Marcus Lattimore leads the Gamecocks with 69 carries for 320 yards, averaging 4.6 yards per carry and 80.0 yards per game (10th in the SEC) this season. He has six of the Gamecocks' eight rushing touchdowns. He ranks second the nation in career yards rushing per game, averaging 97.3 yards per contest (minimum 15 games played).
SHAQ ATTACK: Senior linebacker Shaq Wilson has been outstanding early in the season. In addition to his two interceptions, Wilson, the quarterback of the defense, leads the team with 25 tackles.
PICK THIS: The Gamecocks picked off four passes against ECU and have five for the season. Linebacker Shaq Wilson leads the way with two, while Jimmy Legree returned his for a touchdown against ECU. Last year, the defense logged 19 interceptions with two going for "pick-sixes" (Antonio Allen at Georgia and Devin Taylor at Arkansas). The school record for interceptions in a season is 23, set in 1981 and matched in 1984 and again in 1987.
I SWEAR HE'S BACK: Senior safety D.J. Swearinger will be back in the Gamecock lineup this week after sitting out the Missouri game after being suspended by the SEC. Swearinger, considered the biggest hitter of the defense, is a playmaker as well, with 10 tackles, an interception and a 65-yard fumble return for a touchdown this season.
CALL ME MAYBE: Senior cornerback Akeem Auguste might get the call this week. Auguste, who missed all but one game last season with a foot injury while getting a medical redshirt season, has missed the first four games this season with a groin injury.
THE PUNTER: Sophomore Tyler Hull did not arrive on the Carolina campus until a week after fall camp began, but quickly asserted himself as the team's top punter. The Mount Airy, N.C. product kicked at Guilford (N.C.) College in 2010 before transferring to Surry Community College. For the season, Hull is averaging 39.3 yards on 17 punts with four inside the 20 and three that have traveled 50+ yards. Both Hull and backup punter Patrick Fish, wear number 13.
81-52-83-8 HUT, HUT: Fifth-year senior Adam Yates has worn all four of those numbers since spring ball. What the Sparks, Md. product has been consistent on this season is making his kicks. He is 2-for-3 on field goals and a perfect 17-for-17 on extra point attempts. Yates made the biggest kick of his career when he hit a 42-yarder midway through preseason camp, earning a scholarship. He has also assumed the kickoff duties from Landon Ard and has produced nine touchbacks on 13 kicks.
GIVE US A CHANCE: The Gamecocks were ranked dead last in the country, No. 120, in kickoff returns prior to the Missouri game. But that was no fault of new special teams coach Joe Robinson. The Gamecocks had a 0.0-yard return average because they had not returned a kickoff, the only team of 120 without one through the first three weeks. When Bruce Ellington finally got a chance against Missouri, he returned it 50 yards to midfield, setting up a touchdown. This week, Carolina ranks in a tie for eighth in the county in kickoff return average of 29.0 yards its two returns.
CAPTAINS: The Gamecock coaches select game captains each week until the off week in November, at which time the team will select "permanent" captains for the 2012 season. Here are the game-by-game captains:
UP NEXT: The Gamecocks stay in SEC Eastern Division play next week when they host the Georgia Bulldogs at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia. Georgia leads the all-time series, 46-16-2, including a 19-8-2 advantage in Columbia, but South Carolina has won each of the last two matchups, 17-6 in Columbia in 2010 and 45-42 in Athens last season. That marks the sixth time in history that Carolina has defeated the Bulldogs in back-to-back seasons. The Gameco
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