Oct. 5, 2012
The No. 6/6 South Carolina Gamecocks (5-0, 3-0 SEC) return home for a key SEC Eastern Division showdown when they host the No. 5/5 Georgia Bulldogs (5-0, 3-0 SEC) on Saturday, October 6. The game will be played at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia (80,250) with kickoff set for 7 pm ET. The sold out game will be televised on ESPN with Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit in the booth and Heather Cox working the sidelines. Frank Frangie and Gino Toretta have the national radio call for Touchdown Radio.
SETTING THE STAGE: The No. 6/6 South Carolina Gamecocks (5-0, 3-0 SEC) return home for a key SEC Eastern Division showdown when they host the No. 5/5 Georgia Bulldogs (5-0, 3-0 SEC) on Saturday, October 6. The game will be played at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia (80,250) with kickoff set for 7 pm ET. The sold out game will be televised on ESPN with Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit in the booth and Heather Cox working the sidelines. Frank Frangie and Gino Toretta have the national radio call for Touchdown Radio.
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 16 games over the .500 mark with an all-time record of 559-543-44. The Gamecocks were nine games under .500 until head coach Steve Spurrier took the reins in 2005, but are 25 games over since.
CAROLINA VS. GEORGIA: This is the 65th all-time meeting between these two bordering state schools. Only Clemson (109) has faced the Gamecocks more often than Georgia. The Bulldogs lead the all-time series over South Carolina by a 46-16-2 margin. Georgia holds a 19-8-2 advantage in games played in Columbia, a 26-8 lead in games played in Athens, and won the only game played at a neutral site.
ONE MORE AND CALL IT A STREAK: The Gamecocks have won each of the last two meetings with Georgia, posting a 17-6 win in Columbia in 2010 and a 45-42 shootout in Athens last season. The Gamecocks have won back-to-back games against Georgia six times in history (also 1903-04, 1958-59, 1978-79, 1988-89 and 2000-01), but have never won three-straight in the series.
USUALLY CLOSE, USUALLY LOW SCORING: Eight of the last 11 meetings between these two schools have been decided by seven points or less. In addition, the winning team has failed to eclipse the 20-point plateau in six of the last eight games. However, that wasn't the case when the two squads met at Sanford Stadium last year, a wild 45-42 shootout win by the Gamecocks. That marked the highest scoring game in the history of the series that dates back to 1894, edging the previous mark that was set in a 52-34 Georgia win in 1970.
SPURRIER VS. GEORGIA: South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier owns a 14-5 record against Georgia. he was 11-1 while head coach at Florida, with his lone loss coming in the 1997 season. He is 3-4 in his seven tries while in charge of the Gamecock program. His squads have scored 30 or more points in 11 of 19 contests against the Bulldogs.
SPURRIER VS. RICHT: Steve Spurrier has faced Georgia's Mark Richt eight times as a head coach, winning four of those contests. He won the 2001 meeting in his last season as head coach at Florida, and is 3-4 since taking over the Carolina program. Richt was an assistant coach at Florida State from 1987-2000, during which time Spurrier went 5-8-1 vs. the Seminoles.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: Senior defensive tackle Melvin Ingram made a name for himself and sophomore Marcus Lattimore had another big game against the Bulldogs, as No. 12 Carolina posted a 45-42 win in Athens on Sept. 10, 2011. Ingram scored on a 68-yard run on a fake punt late in the second quarter, then added a five-yard fumble return for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to secure the win. Lattimore rushed for 176 yards on 27 carries and a fourth-quarter score that put Carolina on top 38-35, just 16 seconds before Ingram's second TD. For the game, Georgia had 436 yards of offense compared to 395 for Carolina. For more on the game, see page 11 of the game notes.
THE LAST TIME IN COLUMBIA: Marcus Lattimore rushed for 182 yards and two TDs to lead the 24th-ranked Gamecocks to a 17-6 victory over 22nd-ranked Georgia on Sept. 11, 2010 in Columbia. Lattimore carried 37 times in his first SEC game, scoring twice from two yards out. Alshon Jeffery added seven catches for 103 yards. UGA was held to 11 first downs, 253 total yards and a pair of Blair Walsh field goals.
WHEN THEY'RE BOTH RANKED: This week's game marks the eighth time the two teams have met when they've both been nationally-ranked teams. South Carolina owns a 4-3 advantage in those contests including a 3-0 mark when the game has been played in Columbia:
1959 in Columbia: #16 SC 30, #13 UGA 14
TOP-10 MATCHUP: This is just the fifth time in school history that Carolina has entered a game ranked in the Top-10 and playing another Top-10 opponent. The Gamecocks are winless in those contests to date, but this will be the first time there has been a pair of Top-10 teams meetings in Columbia:
1984 Gator Bowl: #9 Oklahoma State 21, #7 SC 14
THE GAUNTLET: The Georgia game marks the first of three games for South Carolina in which they will faced highly-ranked opponents. Carolina's first five opponents have combined for an 8-15 record, but its next three opponents, No. 5 Georgia (5-0), No. 4 LSU (5-0) and No. 10 Florida (4-0) are a combined 14-0.
MARCUS VS. THE DOGS: Gamecock running back Marcus Lattimore has put together two outstanding games against Georgia. As a freshman, he rushed 37 times for 182 yards and two touchdowns, while last season he carried 27 times for 176 yards and one score. In the two games combined against UGA, the junior from Duncan, S.C. has rushed 64 times for 358 yards (5.6 yards/carry; 179.0 yards/game) and three touchdowns.
STREAKING INTO THE RECORD BOOKS: The Gamecocks have stretched their winning streak to nine games, matching the longest streak in school history, set in 1984. 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:
Consecutive Wins - Year(s)
9 - 1984
HOT AS THEY COME: The Gamecocks' nine-game winning streak ties for the second-longest current winning streak in the country. TCU holds the longest current winning streak at 12 games, followed by South Carolina and Alabama at nine games.
FAST STARTS: The Gamecocks are off to a 5-0 start for the first time since 2001 and for just the sixth time in school history. Here are the best starts in school history and how those teams finished up:
Year Start Finish 1984 9-0 10-2 1988 6-0 8-4 2012 5-0 ??? 2001 5-0 9-3 1928 5-0 6-2-2 1902 5-0 6-1
IN FRONT IN THE SEC: The Gamecocks are 3-0 in SEC play for just the second time in their 21-year history in the league. 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 60-35 mark (.632) in Columbia. Coach Spurrier needs five 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 60 behind only Rex Enright (64) and third in games coached with 95 behind Enright (140) and Paul Dietzel (96). Spurrier owns a 202-75-2 mark (.728) 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 202 wins.
EYEING 250: In addition to his 202 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 249 career coaching wins. He needs just one win to notch No. 250 in his career.
UNCHARTED TERRITORY: Head coach Steve Spurrier has taken the Gamecocks to six bowl games in his first seven seasons. The Gamecocks have been bowl-eligible every year since the HBC came to 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. Carolina is 3-0 at home this season. 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 two SEC road wins this season, Carolina has won eight of its last nine 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, its best road record since posting a 4-1 mark in 2006.
BEATING YOUR OWN: The Gamecocks hold the fourth-longest winning streak among SEC Eastern Division teams in intradivisional matchups since the two-division format was established. Head coach Steve Spurrier owns three of the top four streaks:
Team Head Coach Years Wins Florida Steve Spurrier 1992-97 25 Florida Steve Spurrier 1998-01 18 Florida Urban Meyer 2007-10 16 SC Steve Spurrier 2010-12 11
IN THE POLLS: The Gamecocks have been ranked in the Associated Press Top-25 for 37 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.
ABOUT LAST WEEK: It was a tale of two halves in the Gamecocks 38-17 win at Kentucky last Saturday night. The Wildcats opened up a 17-7 halftime lead while outgaining the Gamecocks 173-108. A different story in the second half though, as Carolina scored 31 unanswered points and outgained Kentucky 240-70 over the final 30 minutes. Marcus Lattimore led the way with 120 rushing yards and two touchdowns, including 108 yards after the intermission. Connor Shaw continued his hot hand by hitting 15-of-18 passes for 148 yards and two scores. The Carolina defense recorded 7.0 sacks and 12.0 tackles for loss on the night.
SHAW AT THE HELM: Connor Shaw is 12-1 as a starting quarterback, the best record after 13 games of any signal-caller in Carolina history. The 6-1, 207-pounder junior from Flowery Branch, Ga. can beat you with his legs (second on the team with 50 carries for 203 yards) or his arm (78.1 percent completion percentage with 5 touchdowns and 2 interceptions). For the season, he ranks 10th in the nation in passing efficiency with a 172.60 rating. For his career, he has completed 68.8 percent of his passes (tops in school history) for 2,242 yards and 20 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. He also has rushed 217 times for 893 yards with eight scores. Shaw was honored as the SEC's co-Offensive Player of the Week against Mizzou.
RED HOT QB: Connor Shaw set a school record by completing his final 20 pass attempts in the win over Missouri. That was just three shy of the SEC single game mark of 23, set by Tennessee's Tee Martinin 1998. Shaw finished the day 20-of-21, (.952), topping the previous South Carolina record of .941, set by Gordon Beckham (16-of-17) against North Carolina in 1981. He threw for 249 yards and two TDs. He came back last week at Kentucky and hit on 15-of-18 passes for 148 yards with two scores. Over the last two games, Shaw has completed 35-of-39 (89.7 percent) for 397 yards and four touchdowns.
QB'S UNDER THE HBC: Here are the records of the starting quarterbacks at South Carolina under head coach Steve Spurrier:
Quarterback Record Pct. Stephen Garcia 20-14 .588 Blake Mitchell 13-10 .565 Connor Shaw 12-1 .923 Chris Smelley 9-6 .600 Syvelle Newton 4-3 .571 Tommy Beecher 1-0 1.000 Dylan Thompson 1-0 1.000 Antonio Heffner 0-1 .000
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-53 for 510 yards and five touchdowns with no INTs. He has a passing efficiency rating of 162.91, the fifth-best mark in the SEC.
MORE FROM LATTI: Marcus Lattimore scored twice in last week's game at Kentucky and now has eight touchdowns this season. He is second in the SEC, averaging 9.6 points per game. Lattimore has scored in each of his last six games and in 20 of his 25 career contests. He is the school's all-time leader with 38 career touchdowns and with 35 career rushing touchdowns. He ranks third on the school's all-time points scored list with 228 and became just the fifth player in Carolina history to eclipse the 200-point plateau. Lattimore ranks 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 16 times. Junior Marcus Lattimore leads the way with 10 100-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.
TEN 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 TDs in the opener at Vanderbilt earning SEC Offensive Player of the Week accolades, and had 23 carries for a season-best 120 yards and two scores last week at Kentucky. He owns 10 100-yard rushing games, moving him into a tie for fourth in Carolina history with Steve Wadiak.
AMONG THE BEST: Marcus Lattimore leads the Gamecocks and is sixth in the SEC in rushing with 92 carries for 440 yards, averaging 4.8 yards per carry and 88.0 yards per game this season. He has eight of the Gamecocks' 11 rushing touchdowns. He ranks second the nation in career yards rushing per game, averaging 98.2 yards per contest (minimum 15 games played).
COMING UP ACES: Junior wide receiver Ace Sanders has done it all this season. He is tied for second on the team with 12 receptions for 110 yards and three touchdowns, has returned 15 punts for a 12.9-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. Sanders was honored as the SEC's co-Special Teams Player of the Week vs. Mizzou.
BRUCE ALMIGHTY: Sophomore Bruce Ellington has shown he can excel on the gridiron as he has done on the hardwood. The starting point guard for the Carolina basketball team each of the past two seasons, Ellington is tied for second on the team with 12 receptions for 207 yards, a 17.2 yard average, and has returned two kickoffs for a 37.5 yard average, including a 50-yarder against Missouri. Ellington is a rare breed that has earned SEC All-Freshman honors in both football and basketball.
THIS BYRD CAN FLY: Dylan Thompson and Damiere Byrd hooked up on a 94-yard touchdown pass against UAB. It was the fourth-longest touchdown pass in school history and the first of Byrd's career. It also ranks as the second longest pass play in the Division I play this season. Byrd has nine receptions this season for 246 yards, a gaudy 27.3 yards per catch average, with two scores. Byrd also competes in the 60-meter dash for the Carolina track & field squad and competed in an international track meet for the U.S. in Japan.
ALONG THE O-LINE: The Gamecocks' offensive line has a blend of youth and experience. Senior center T.J. Johnson, a Rimington Award candidate, anchors the line. He has started every game over the past four seasons, making 45 career starts, He needs just four starts to become the school's career leader. Redshirt sophomore A.J. Cann has become a fixture at left guard. He started all 13 games last season as a redshirt freshman and has 18 consecutive starts. Junior right guard Ronald Patrick has started all five games this season as the middle of the line has remained intact. The tackle position has been more fluid. True sophomore Mike Matulis (9 starts) missed last week's game at Kentucky with a shoulder injury. Redshirt sophomore tackle Cody Gibson has made six career starts, including two this season. Redshirt freshman tackle Brandon Shell made his first career start at Vanderbilt as the left tackle and got the call last week at Kentucky, replacing the injured Matulis at right tackle. Redshirt sophomore tackle Corey Robinson has been the starting left tackle in each of the last two contests, his first career starts.
NOT ON OUR WATCH: Carolina has surrendered 56 points through the first four games, ranking second in the SEC and sixth in the country in scoring defense at 11.20 points per game. The Gamecocks have been especially stingy in the second half, allowing just 20 points after intermission in five games (while scoring 103).
SACK ATTACK: The Gamecocks racked up a season-high seven sacks in the win at Kentucky, and own 22 sacks on the season, tied for second in the nation with San Jose State behind Tulsa's 26. Arizona State (21) is the only other school with 20 or more. Sophomore Jadeveon Clowney leads the way with 5.5 sacks and Chaz Sutton has added 3.0, while 11 different players have figured into the total. Clowney ranks second in the SEC with both his 5.5 sacks and with his 9.5 tackles for loss.
TOUGH AGAINST THE RUN: Carolina has been solid against the run this season, surrendering fewer than 100 yards in three of the first five games. Kentucky logged 120 rushing yards last week, the most Carolina has allowed this season, but 93 of those yards came in the first half and only 27 came on 16 second-half carries. For the season, the Gamecocks rank second in the SEC and seventh in the country in rushing defense, allowing just 77.60 yards per contest and two rushing touchdowns.
WHY THEY'RE SO GOOD: The Gamecocks lead the SEC in allowing the fewest touchdowns on drives (5-of-67, 7.5 percent). In addition, despite turning the ball over eight times, the Gamecocks have not allowed a point following a turnover this season.
AND IMPRESSIVE IN THE REDZONE: The Gamecocks have allowed their five opponents to venture inside the 20-yard line 12 times this season, but have surrendered just 36 points on three touchdowns and five field goals.
SENIOR `BACKERS: New linebackers coach Kirk Botkin is blessed with a group of experienced players. The two-deep at the Mike, Will and Spur positions features five seniors who have combined for 14 varsity letters. Reginald Bowens (13 starts) and Damario Jeffery (4 starts) handle the Mike position; Shaq Wilson (25 starts) and Quin Smith (4 starts) man the Will position; and DeVonte Holloman (27 starts) gets the call at the Spur position.
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, is second on the team with 25 tackles, trailing only his backup, Quin Smith, who has 26.
PICK THIS: The Gamecocks picked off a season-best four passes against ECU and have seven 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. Here are the individual totals:
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 39.1 yards on 19 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 3-for-4 on field goals with a long of 38 yards and a perfect 22-for-22 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 12 touchbacks on 20 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 15th in the county in kickoff return average of 27.7 yards on its three returns.
WINNING MORE OFTEN: The Gamecocks have posted four-straight winning seasons and a school-record eight-straight seasons of at least a .500 record, surpassing the previous mark of seven-straight seasons of .500 or better set from 1928-34. The Gamecocks went 6-5 in 2004, 7-5 in 2005, 8-5 in 2006, 6-6 in 2007, and 7-6 in both 2008 and 2009 before logging a 9-5 record in 2010 and a school-best 11-2 mark in 2011.
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:
Vanderbilt: Justice Cunningham, T.J. Johnson, D.J. Swearinger, Shaq Wilson.
UP NEXT: The Gamecocks head to the Bayou where they'll face their second top-5 team in as many weeks in the LSU Tigers. Carolina is just 2-16-1 all-time against LSU, including a 1-10 mark in Baton Rouge.
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