Oct. 8, 2016
The South Carolina Gamecocks (2-3, 1-3 SEC) play game two of a five-game homestand when they host the Georgia Bulldogs (3-2, 1-2 SEC) on Sunday, October 9 at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Game time is set for 2:30 p.m. with the SEC Network televising the contest. Brent Musburger and Jesse Palmer will be in the booth with Kaylee Hartung working the sidelines.
The South Carolina-Georgia game is traditionally played very early in the season. In fact, the October 8 date for this year's contest is the latest the teams have met since the 1980 season when they played on November 1. Next year, the teams will meet even later, as the November 4, 2017 encounter will be the second-latest in history, surpassed only by the November 18 game in 1939.
This week's game marks the first time since South Carolina and Georgia became SEC rivals in 1992 that both teams are coming into the contest on a losing note. South Carolina dropped a 24-13 decision to Texas A&M last week, while Georgia was defeated by Tennessee in the final seconds by a 34-31 score.
A HISTORY LESSON
2016 marks the 123rd season of intercollegiate football at the University of South Carolina, dating back to 1892. It is the 110th-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 23 games over the .500 mark with an all-time record of 588-565-44.
The 2016 season marks South Carolina's 25th year in the SEC. South Carolina and Arkansas joined the league prior to the 1992 campaign. The Gamecocks earned the SEC Eastern Division title in the 2010 season. The Gamecocks are 84-111-1 (.431) all-time in SEC regular-season play, but are 29-24 (.547) in conference action since the start of the 2010 season.
CAROLINA VS. GEORGIA
This is the 69th all-time meeting between these two bordering flagship state schools. Only Clemson (113) has faced the Gamecocks more often than Georgia. The Bulldogs lead the all-time series over South Carolina by a 48-18-2 margin. Georgia holds a 19-10-2 advantage in games played in Columbia, a 28-8 lead in games played in Athens, and won the only game played at a neutral site. Since becoming SEC Eastern Division rivals in 1992, UGA owns a 15-9 advantage in the series.
The Gamecocks have won four of the past six meetings with Georgia including three-straight from 2010-12 (17-6, 45-42 and 35-7). Georgia won in Athens in 2013 by a 41-30 count, but the Gamecocks bounced back with a 38-35 win in Columbia in 2014. The Bulldogs won last year's meeting by a 52-20 count. The Gamecocks have won each of the last three times the two schools have met in Columbia, with Georgia's last win here coming in 2008. In their last nine trips to Columbia dating back to 1998, Georgia has tallied more than 20 points just once.
MUSCHAMP VS. GEORGIA
South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp owns a 1-3 record as a head coach against his alma mater. The 1994 Georgia grad lost by a 24-20 count in 2011, by a 17-9 score in 2012 and by a 23-20 margin in 2013 before posting a 38-20 win in 2014, all as the head coach at the University of Florida.
GEORGIA ON MY MIND
This week's game is one that Carolina co-offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon had to have circled on his calendar. A 2005 Georgia graduate, McClendon spent his entire coaching career with the Bulldogs prior to joining Will Muschamp's staff on December 23, 2015. During his time in Athens, McClendon served as the Bulldogs' interim head coach and led his team to the 2016 TaxSlayer Bowl win over Penn State.
RECRUITING THE PEACH STATE
The Peach State is well-represented on Carolina's roster, as 26 players claim Georgia as their home. That represents nearly 23 percent of the 115-man roster.
MAKING A POINT
After playing 34 times from 1971-2008 without scoring 30 points in any single contest, Carolina has tallied 30-plus points in five of the last seven meetings with the Bulldogs.
WELL THAT'S DIFFERENT
After an 11-year stretch from 1998-2008 in which the teams did not score more than 38 points combined, the offense have had the better of it lately. In the last seven meetings, the winning team has scored at least 35 points six times and the teams have combined for over 70 points in five of those seven contests, including a record 87 points in the 2011 game that Carolina won by a 45-42 score.
ABOUT LAST WEEK
The Gamecocks held ninth-ranked Texas A&M well below its season average in both points and yards, but came up on the short end of a 24-13 decision last Saturday in Columbia. A.J. Turner gave the Gamecocks an early lead when he took the first snap from scrimmage 75 yards to paydirt. Turner finished with 113 yards on 10 carries for the first 100-yard rushing game of his career. Tight end Hayden Hurst continues to produce, catching five passes for a career-high 90 yards. Perry Orth gave the Gamecocks a late spark, connecting on 11-of-18 passes for 138 yards, all in the fourth quarter. Safety D.J. Smith led the defense with nine tackles.
The Gamecocks needed just 13 seconds to get on the board against Texas A&M when A.J. Turner dashed 75 yards to paydirt on the first play from scrimmage. Turner's carry was the fastest score for Carolina since Nov. 20, 2010, when Marcus Lattimore ran 17 yards for a TD 13 seconds into the contest against Troy. It was the second time in five games this season that the Gamecocks tallied in the game's first minute, as Brandon McIlwain scooted 11 yards for a score just 17 seconds into the ECU game. Turner's burst was the longest run from scrimmage by a Gamecock since 2013 when Mike Davis had a pair of 75-yard carries (vs. UNC and vs. Georgia).
REACHING THE CENTURY MARK
Redshirt freshman A.J. Turner carried 10 times for 113 yards against Texas A&M, the first 100-yard rushing game of his career. His previous high was 70 yards at Vanderbilt and he entered the A&M contest with just 157 rushing yards through the season's first four games. It was the Gamecocks' first 100-yard rushing game since Brandon Wilds went for 128 yards against A&M in 2015.
SOME OFFENSIVE LIFE
Despite being held to 13 points, the Gamecock offense showed some life against the Aggies. Carolina logged offensive season highs in first downs (21), rushing yards (161), passing yards (217) and total yards (378). The Gamecocks averaged more yards per play (5.4-5.3) than did the Aggies.
FOUR ON THE MONEY
The Gamecocks had four different players complete passes against Texas A&M - quarterbacks Brandon McIlwain and Perry Orth, tight end Hayden Hurst and punter Sean Kelly. It was the first time since November 23, 2013 against Coastal Carolina (Connor Shaw, Dylan Thompson, Perry Orth, Austin Hails and Brendan Nosovitch) that South Carolina had four or more players complete a pass.
BETTER THAN AVERAGE
The Gamecock defense has held all five of its opponents to fewer points than that team has averaged this season. The Gamecocks rank sixth in the SEC and 23rd in the country in scoring defense, allowing just 18.6 points per game. Georgia comes into this week's game averaging 26.4 points per game.
After forcing just one turnover in the season's first two games, the Carolina defense has forced eight turnovers in the last three contests, including four in the win over ECU. Carolina is tied for third in the SEC in turnover margin at +0.6.
Elliott Fry has scored 317 career points, just 13 shy of the school record of 330, held by Collin Mackie (1987-90). Fry is tied for 19th on the SEC list of career points scored with Tennessee's John Becksvoort, one point behind LSU's Kevin Faulk. Fry needs four more field goals to move into the SEC's career top-10 for field goals made. He has 60 career field goals. Tenth on the list is Georgia's Marshall Morgan with 64.
YOUTH WILL BE SERVED
Seventy-eight of the Gamecocks' 115-man roster, or 67.8 percent, are either freshmen or sophomores. Twelve true freshmen have seen game action this season.
17 NEW STARTERS OVERALL
Carolina had seven players make their first career start in the season opener against Vanderbilt, seven more who started for the first time against ECU, and three more get the call against Texas A&M. Of the 17 first-time starters, five are true freshmen: Randrecous Davis, Chavis Dawkins, Bryan Edwards, Brandon McIlwain, and Keir Thomas.
FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME
When he got the call against East Carolina in week 3, Brandon McIlwain became just the fourth true freshman to start at quarterback for the Gamecocks since they joined the SEC. Steve Taneyhill (1992), Mikal Goodman (1999) and Lorenzo Nuñez (2015) were the others.
EVERY TIME OUT
The Gamecocks have had eight players start each of the first five games of the season, four on offense - Zack Bailey, Cory Helms, Hayden Hurst, and Mason Zandi. and four on defense - Darius English, Chris Lammons, Marquavius Lewis and Taylor Stallworth.
HAPPY TO BE HOME
The Gamecocks opened the season with three road games in their first four contests, including three SEC road contests, all at night. The Gamecocks are 25-8 in their last 33 home games (.758) and 41-11 (.788) in their last 52 home games, including a school-record 18-game game home winning streak. The school's previous longest home winning streak was 15 games, set from 1978-80.
NOW THAT'S A HOMESTAND
The Gamecocks are in the midst of a five-game homestand. Between October 1 and November 5, Texas A&M, Georgia, UMass, Tennessee and Missouri will venture to Williams-Brice Stadium, with a bye week scheduled for October 15. Auburn is the only other school in the country with five-consecutive home games on its slate this season. The last time South Carolina had five-straight home games on its schedule was in 1988 when the Gamecocks opened the season against North Carolina, Western Carolina, East Carolina, Georgia and Appalachian State.
The Gamecocks have split time at the quarterback position in three of the first five games. Senior Perry Orth came into the season as the only experienced signal-caller, while Brandon McIlwain, a true freshman, enrolled in January and went through spring drills. Orth made the start in each of the first two contests and McIlwain has started each of the last three games.
FEELING THE ORTHQUAKE
Senior signal-caller Perry Orth was the Carolina starting QB when the season began and came up with his second career win in the season-opener at Vanderbilt. After a shaky start, the veteran got things going in the second half, rallying the Gamecocks with 13 points after being blanked through the first 30 minutes. He finished the night 11-for-19 for 152 yards, hitting 6-of-7 passes in the fourth quarter. That performance earned him the start at Mississippi State. He played the entire first half and completed 9-of-17 passes for 83 yards with a pick. After sitting out the next 13 quarters, Orth returned in the fourth quarter against Texas A&M and provided a spark, hitting 11-of-18 passes for 138 yards. He is 2-8 in his 10 career starts.
True freshman quarterback Brandon McIlwain has appeared in all five games and has started each of the last three contests. For the season, he is 56-for-106 (52.8 pct.) for 567 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He is 1-2 as a starter, completing 40-of-73 (54.8 pct.) for 406 yards and two scores with one pick. He is also Carolina's third-leading rusher with 98 yards and a pair of scores.
WHO ARE THESE GUYS?
Carolina's wide receivers had limited experience entering the season, combining for just 28 catches and 356 yards, and now it has been decimated with injuries. Arguably the squad's top three wideouts - Deebo Samuel, Bryan Edwards and Randrecous Davis - all sat out the Texas A&M contest with hamstring injuries. Samuel, who was expected to be the top deep threat this season, has been limited to just two games and four catches thus far. Last week, true freshman Chavis Dawkins made his first start and caught five passes, and walk-on Javon Charleston moved back to wide receiver after having spent the previous six weeks working at safety, and caught his first career pass.
Bryan Edwards became the sixth true freshman to start in the season opener for the Garnet & Black since the start of the 2009 season. He joined Stephon Gilmore (2009), Marcus Lattimore (2010), Jadeveon Clowney (2011), Bryson Allen-Williams (2014) and Al Harris Jr. (2014).
AND NOW WE KNOW WHY
True freshman Bryan Edwards showed why he earned the starting nod in his first collegiate game. The 6-3, 210-pounder from Conway, S.C., hauled in eight passes for 101 yards in the win over Vanderbilt, including a long reception of 33 yards. He was the only freshman receiver in the country to log a 100-yard game last week. It was just the eighth 100-yard receiving game in a season opener in Gamecock history and Edwards is the only true freshman on the list:
THE BEST IS HURST
Tight end Hayden Hurst, a 6-5, 250-pound former professional baseball player, has been a consistent go-to guy this season. The 23-year-old sophomore leads the team with 24 catches for 302 yards, including an eight-catch, 68-yard effort at Mississippi State, a seven-catch, 84-yard performance at Kentucky, and a five-catch, 90-yard outing against Texas A&M. He ranks tied for eighth in the league with 4.8 receptions per game.
THE QB'S ARE TIGHT WITH THEM
With injuries and inexperience hampering the Gamecock wideouts early in the season, the tight end trio of Hayden Hurst, K.C. Crosby and Jacob August has become a big part of the offense. In addition to Hurst's team-leading 24 catches for 302 yards, Crosby is third on the team with 12 receptions and 102 yards, nd August has added four catches for 44 yards. Of the 89 pass receptions this season, the tight ends have 40 catches (45 pct.), the wide receivers have 36 (40 pct.) and the running backs have 13 (15 pct.).
Redshirt freshman A.J. Turner earned the starting nod at running back during fall camp. The 5-10, 195-pounder got off to a strong start, carrying 13 times for 70 yards at Vanderbilt in the season opener. He had his best game against Texas A&M, rushing 10 times for 113 yards, including a 75-yard TD run on the first play from scrimmage. After five games, he is the Gamecocks' top rusher with 57 carries for 270 yards and two touchdowns, and has added 11 catches for 87 yards and a score. Turner, who is 19th in the country averaging 28.4 yards per kickoff return, ranks tied for fourth in the nation among freshmen with 111.2 all-purpose yards per game.
A DOWDLE SIGHTING
After undergoing surgery for a sports hernia in the offseason, then suffering a groin injury early in fall camp, true freshman Rico Dowdle made his first appearance for the Garnet & Black against Texas A&M. The 5-11, 211-pounder from Asheville, N.C. who now dons No. 23, was impressive in limited duty, rushing nine times for 47 yards, averaging 5.2 yards per carry.
DISTRIBUTING THE WORKLOAD
Redshirt freshman A.J. Turner has done the bulk of the work from the running back position, as he has garnered 57 of the 90 carries (63 pct.) by the running backs. Here's how the Carolina running backs have performed:
WHERE HAVE ALL THE SENIORS GONE
The Gamecocks list just four seniors on the offensive side of the ball in Matrick Belton, Perry Orth, Darius Paulk and Mason Zandi. All four are redshirt seniors. Zandi is the only one of the four to begin his collegiate career at South Carolina and the only one who came to Columbia as a scholarship player. Only Minnesota (3), Old Dominion (4), Florida (4) and Troy (4) have as few seniors on offense as do the Gamecocks.
ZANDI STANDS ALONE
Redshirt senior Mason Zandi is the only senior on the offensive side of the ball on the 2016 roster that came to South Carolina as a scholarship player. Zandi, a 6-9, 315-pound local product from Chapin, S.C. was named preseason third-team All-SEC by the league's coaches. He is also just one of six players in Gamecock history with the last name starting with "Z" to earn a football letter. The most recent prior to Zandi was Zip Zanders, who lettered in 1986. Mason's father, Ali, is a native of Iran who fled his home country during its 1970s revolution.
CORY AT THE HELMS
Cory Helms, a 6-4, 310-pound junior from Alpharetta, Ga., is a welcome addition to the offensive line. Helms, who earned Freshman All-America honors in 2013 at Wake Forest, spent two seasons with the Demon Deacons before sitting out 2015 as a transfer. He started the season opener at center, but moved to right guard at Mississippi State and has started every game at that position since.
IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE
Zack Bailey was the only Gamecock named to the 2015 SEC All-Freshman team, as selected by the league's 14 coaches. The 6-6, 315-pound true freshman from Summerville, S.C., played in all 12 games in 2015, making five starts, with three at center and two at left guard. He has started each game this season at left guard.
KNOW YOUR STARTING CENTER
Junior Alan Knott, a preseason Rimington Award candidate, has made 21 career starts, most among the active players on the squad. Skai Moore actually has the most starts (24), but is taking a redshirt this year while rehabbing an injury.
MANNING UP IN THE RED ZONE
The Gamecock defense ranks fourth in the SEC and 12th in the nation in red zone defense, allowing points just 66.7 percent of the time (14-of-21). In 21 opportunities this season, the Carolina defense has allowed just eight touchdowns and six field goals, while forcing four turnovers in the red zone.
EVERY GAME QUA
Defensive lineman Marquavius Lewis has started all 17 games since his arrival on the Columbia campus. He owns the longest current consecutive streak of starts on the squad.
TAKING ENGLISH LESSONS
Senior defensive end Darius English is putting together his finest campaign. The 6-6, 245-pounder from Powder Springs, Ga., leads the Gamecocks with 5.0 of the squad's 10 sacks, including a career-best 3.0 sacks against Kentucky. That was the most sacks by a Gamecock player since Jadeveon Clowney finished with 4.5 at Clemson on Nov. 24, 2012. English is tied for second in the SEC and 14th in the country in sacks.
GETTING IN THE SACK
The Gamecocks are averaging two sacks per game this season, producing a season-high four sacks against both East Carolina and Kentucky. Darius English is the top sack-master on the squad with 5.0 this season and 11.0 in his career.
The Gamecocks have picked off five passes this season, good for a fifth place tie in the SEC and 31st in the country. Chris Lammons is tied for second in the SEC with two.
THE SKAI TURNED RED(SHIRT)
Skai Moore will take a redshirt and miss the 2016 season following offseason surgery to address a herniated disk in his neck. The 6-2, 220-pounder from Cooper City, Fla., was the Gamecocks' leading tackler in 2015 with 111 stops, tying for third in the SEC with 9.2 tackles per game. He also led the team with 6.5 tackles for loss and with four pass interceptions, tying for fourth in the SEC. Moore became the first Gamecock to reach the century mark in tackles since 2006, while his 111 tackles was the second-highest total recorded by a Carolina player in the last 25 years. He led the team in tackles for a third-consecutive season, becoming the first player to do so since 1992-94. In addition, Moore has 11 career picks, tying for third on the all-time list.
THE FRISCO KID
Senior Elliott Fry is 7-for-10 in the field goal department this season. He has connected on a school record 131 consecutive extra points and has hit 74.1 percent (60-of-81) of his career field goal attempts. That average jumps to 80.3 percent (57-of-71) when attempting from under 50 yards out. He holds the school's career records for extra points made and attempted and is second in points scored with 317, behind only Collin Mackie (330).
FRY BURNS THE `DORES
Senior placekicker Elliott Fry connected on a 48-yard field goal in the third quarter, then hit on a career-long 55-yard field goal in the final minute to provide the margin of victory in the season opener. It tied for the second-longest field goal in Gamecock history, matching Ryan Succop's 55-yarder against Vandy in the 2006 season. Only Mark Fleetwood's 58-yarder against Georgia in 1982 is longer.
GIVING IT THE BOOT: Here are the top-10 longest field goals in South Carolina history:
When Elliott Fry booted the game-winner at Vanderbilt in the season opener, he became the first SEC kicker to make a field goal of 55+ yds with less than one minute to play in 4th quarter (or in OT) in the last 10 years.
Elliott Fry's 55-yard field goal against Vanderbilt matches Hawaii's Rigoberto Sanchez for the longest field goal made this season.
KICKIN' IT WITH KELLY
Senior punter Sean Kelly was, in some people's eyes, the MVP of the Gamecock squad in 2015. The 5-10, 190-pounder from Oakland, Fla. has been busy this season, already punting 32 times, most in the SEC. He is averaging 41.1 yards with 15 inside the 20 and a long of 66 yards. Last season he averaged 44.3 yards, third in the SEC, while the Gamecocks ranked second in the SEC and seventh in the nation in net punting with a 41.3 yard average.
A NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN
Will Muschamp was introduced as the 34th head football coach at the South Carolina on December 7, 2015. A 21-year coaching veteran, Muschamp, a 1994 graduate of Georgia, has spent 13 years in the SEC, including four as the head coach at Florida, where he posted a 28-21 record from 2011-14. He was recognized as the SEC Coach of the Year in 2012 after an 11-win campaign. Last season, he served as the defensive coordinator at Auburn. Muschamp has coached in the SEC Championship Game twice and once in the Big 12 Championship Game, winning all three. He has also coached in two national championship games, helping LSU win the national title in 2003.
AND HE BROUGHT HIS POSSE
With the exception of holdover offensive line coach Shawn Elliott, Coach Muschamp brought an entirely new coaching staff to Columbia. Bobby Bentley (Running Backs), Coleman Hutzler (Special Teams Coordinator/Linebackers), Bryan McClendon (Co-Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receivers), Mike Peterson (Outside Linebackers), Travaris Robinson (Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs), Kurt Roper (Co-Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks), Lance Thompson (Assistant Head Coach - Defense/Defensive Line), and Pat Washington (Tight Ends) are the newcomers. Coach Muschamp has also beefed up the off-the-field support staff with a number of football analysts and others focused on recruiting to go along with the usual number of graduate assistants.
TOTING THE SHEEPSKIN
IN THE CLASSROOM
The Gamecocks placed 28 players on the 2015 SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll. Among those who made the SEC Honor Roll include returnees Rivers Bedenbaugh, Jordan Diggs, Jalen Dread, Elliott Fry, Kelsey Griffin, Terry Googer, Shannon James, Chris Lammons, Nick McGriff, Perry Orth, Jasper Sasser, Michael Scarnecchia, Demetrius Smalls, D.J. Smith, Donell Stanley and Rod Talley.
The Gamecocks are 2-3 all-time in games decided in overtime. They won their first overtime game in school history when they defeated Missouri, 27-24, in two overtimes on October 26, 2013 in Columbia, Mo., and won in "The Swamp" over Florida by a 23-20 count in 2014. All three overtime losses have come against Tennessee by a field goal: a 23-20 setback on September 27, 2003 in Knoxville, and a 27-24 loss in Knoxville on October 27, 2007 and a 45-42 loss in Columbia on November 1, 2014.
O' CAPTAIN MY CAPTAIN
The Gamecocks will select game captains each week before naming permanent team captains for the season.
The Gamecocks will enjoy their off week next week before embarking on the second half of their regular season schedule when they host the UMass Minutemen on Saturday, October 22. It will be the first gridiron matchup in history between the Gamecocks and UMass.
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