Football Travels To Florida For SEC Showdown
Oct. 19, 2012
The No. 9/8 South Carolina Gamecocks (6-1, 4-1 SEC) face their third Top-10 opponent in as many weeks when they travel to The Swamp to face the No. 3/4 Florida Gators (6-0, 5-0 SEC) on Saturday, October 20. The venue will be Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (88,548) in Gainesville with kickoff set for 3:30 pm ET. The sold out contest will be televised on CBS with Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson in the booth and Tracy Wolfson working the sidelines.
CAROLINA VS. FLORIDA: This is the 33rd meeting in a series that dates back to 1911. The Gators lead the all-time series, 23-6-3, including a 12-1 advantage in Gainesville. However, the Gamecocks have won the last two contests, including a 17-12 decision in Columbia last season. South Carolina won for the first time in 13 tries in Gainesville in 2010, 36-14, with the SEC Eastern Division title on the line. The Gamecocks have won back-to-back tilts against the Gators twice, 1936 & `39 and 2010 & `11. They have never defeated Florida three times in a row.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: Connor Shaw rushed for a then-career-high 88 yards and two touchdowns and completed 6-of-12 passes for 81 yards to lead No. 15 South Carolina to a 17-12 win over Florida on November 12, 2011 in Columbia. In a defensive struggle Carolina finished the day with 299 yards of offense while holding the Gators to 261 yards. Freshman running back Brandon Wilds rushed for 120 yards on 29 carries. For more on the game, see page 12 of the notes.
THE LAST TIME IN THE SWAMP: Marcus Lattimore rushed a career-high 40 times for a career-high 212 yards and three touchdowns as the 22nd-ranked Gamecocks knocked off No. 24 Florida, 36-14 for the SEC Eastern Division title on Nov. 13, 2010 in Gainesville. Andre Dubose returned the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown for the Gators, but it was all Gamecocks after that. Spencer Lanning added three field goals from beyond 40 yards. Carolina rolled up 395 total yards to just 226 for the Gators, including a 239-35 advantage on the ground. For more on the game, see page 13 of the notes.
SPURRIER VS. FLORIDA: Steve Spurrier owns a 3-4 record against his alma mater. The first time he was on the opposing sideline, Spurrier defeated the Gators by a 30-22 score in 1995. After four straight losses, he and the Gamecocks won in Gainesville by a 36-14 score for the SEC Eastern Division title in 2010. Carolina made it two straight for the HBC over the Gators with a 17-12 win last season in Columbia. The Gamecocks have scored 30 or more points in three of the seven matchups since Coach Spurrier took over in Columbia. For a game-by-game listing, please refer to page 18.
BOTH RANKED: This is the fifth time that Carolina will play Florida when both teams enter the contest in the Top-25. The higher-ranked team has won each of the previous four times, with Florida holding a 3-1 advantage. The Gators won in 2000, 2001 and 2008 before Carolina won in 2010. Here are the teams' respective rankings since this became an SEC matchup:
TOP-10 MATCHUP: This is just the seventh time in school history that Carolina has entered a game ranked in the Top-10 and playing another Top-10 opponent, but the third time in as many weeks. The Gamecocks are 1-5 in those contests to date, winning for the first time two weeks ago when they were ranked sixth in the country and defeated No. 5 Georgia, 35-7 in Columbia.
TOP 10 vs. TOP 10
THE TOP-10 GAUNTLET: This is the final game of a three-game gauntlet for Carolina in which it will play teams ranked among the nation's Top-10. Carolina defeated No. 5 Georgia two weeks ago in Columbia before falling 23-21 at No. 9 LSU in the Bayou last week. Carolina's first five opponents have combined for an 11-22 record, but these three opponents, Georgia (5-1), LSU (6-1) and Florida (6-0) are a combined 17-2.
STREAK SNAPPED: The Gamecocks stretched their school-record winning streak to 10 games, surpassing the previous streak of nine set in 1984, before falling at LSU last Saturday. 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)
THE HEAD BALL COACH: Steve Spurrier is in his eighth season directing the Gamecock football program. He has logged a 61-36 mark (.629) in Columbia. Coach Spurrier needs three wins to tie and four 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 61 behind only Rex Enright (64) and is second in games coached with 97, behind Enright (140). Spurrier owns a 203-76-2 mark (.726) in 23 seasons as a collegiate head coach, with stops at Duke and Florida before his stint at 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 203 wins.
REACHING 250: In addition to his 203 wins as a college coach, Steve Spurrier has an additional 47 wins as a head coach at the professional level, giving him 250 career coaching wins.
UNCHARTED TERRITORY: With the win over Georgia, the Gamecocks became bowl eligible for the eighth time in as many seasons under head coach Steve Spurrier. Coach Spurrier has taken the Gamecocks to six bowl games in his first seven seasons. They 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.
SWEEPING THE EAST: The Gamecocks are 4-0 against SEC Eastern Division foes this season, winning the season opener at Vanderbilt, then defeating Missouri, Kentucky and Georgia in successive weeks. They posted a perfect 5-0 mark against SEC Eastern Division rivals in 2011, a first in school history. They have won 12 straight and 13 of their last 14 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+ wins in the division three times in seven seasons:
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:
IN THE POLLS: The Gamecocks have been ranked in the Associated Press Top-25 for 39 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.
GOOD HOME COOKIN': The Gamecocks have won their last eight games at Williams-Brice Stadium. Carolina is 4-0 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 24-3 in its last 27 home games.
AND NOT BAD ON THE ROAD EITHER: With two SEC road wins in three tries this season, Carolina has won eight of its last 10 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.
ABOUT LAST WEEK: The third-ranked Gamecocks had their school-record 10-game winning streak come to an end in a 23-21 setback at LSU in front of 92,734 hostile fans in the Bayou. Despite being outgained on the night 406-211 and losing the time of possession battle nearly 37 minutes to 23, the Gamecocks clung to a 14-13 lead midway through the fourth quarter. But LSU scored twice in a under two minutes to take a 23-14 lead with five minutes remaining. South Carolina got a late touchdown and got the ball back with 35 seconds remaining, but could not come up with the game-winning drive. Jimmy Legree's 70-yard interception return set up Carolina's first score and Ace Sanders' 50-yard punt return set up the second TD. Linebacker Shaq Wilson registered a career-high 14 tackles.
GETTING (LE)GREEDY: Jimmy Legree has a nose for the end zone when he gets an interception. Legree returned a pick 70 yards at LSU, down to the one-yard line, setting up the game's first touchdown. Legree had a pick-six earlier this season against East Carolina, rumbling 34 yards to paydirt.
SANDERS SPECIAL AGAIN: Junior punt returner Ace Sanders is on pace for a record-setting season. Sanders, a two-time SEC Special Teams Player of the Week, has six returns of 27 yards or more, including a 70-yarder for a score against Georgia and a 50-yarder at LSU. He is averaging 17.4 yards per return, fourth in the nation. Sanders was named to Phil Steele's fourth-team All-America squad as a punt returner. Here are the top punt returners in the nation:
RK - Player- School - Ret/Yds. - Avg.
HISTORICALLY SPEAKING: Ace Sanders is averaging 17.4-yard per punt return. Bobby Bryant holds the school record by returning 13 punts for 242 yards, an 18.6-yard average in 1966.
SHAW AT THE HELM: Connor Shaw is 13-2 as a starting quarterback, the best record after 15 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 76 carries for 280 yards) or his arm (69.4 percent completion percentage with nine touchdowns and four interceptions). His 160.31 passing efficiency rating is fourth in the SEC and ranks 14th in the country. For his career, he has completed 67.2 percent of his passes (tops in school history) for 2,581 yards and 24 touchdowns with 12 interceptions. He also has rushed 243 times for 970 yards with nine scores. Shaw was honored as the SEC's co-Offensive Player of the Week against Mizzou.
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. Three of the top 5 quarterbacks in completion percentage have worked under Coach Spurrier:
Quarterback Years Comp. Pct. Connor Shaw 2010-12 .672 (221-of-329) Blake Mitchell 2004-07 .607 (482-of-794) Steve Taneyhill 1992-95 .605 (753-of-1245) Bobby Fuller 1990-91 .588 (373-of-634) Stephen Garcia 2008-11 .577 (589-of-1021)
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 Martin in 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 the following week at Kentucky and hit on 15-of-18 passes for 148 yards with two scores. Over the last four games, Shaw has completed 60-of-83 (72.3 percent) for 736 yards and eight touchdowns with two INTs.
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 Connor Shaw 13-2 .867 Blake Mitchell 13-10 .565 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
THAT'S EFFICIENT: Carolina quarterbacks have posted a 165.0 efficiency rating through seven games, the second-best mark in the SEC (behind Alabama) and the nation's 10th-best mark. They are completing 62.7 percent of their passes and are tied with Arkansas and Tennessee for the most touchdown passes thrown in the SEC with 16. Individually, Connor Shaw is fourth in the SEC with a 160.3 rating, while backup Dylan Thompson is second at 162.9.
PICK UP THE FLAG: The Gamecocks are the least penalized team in the SEC this season, losing just 34.3 yards per game in penalties this year.
SCORING WITH LATTI: Marcus Lattimore scored against LSU last week and now has 10 touchdowns this season. He is tied for fourth in scoring in the SEC, averaging 8.6 points per game. Lattimore has scored in each of his last eight games and in 22 of his 27 career contests. He is the school's all-time leader with 40 career touchdowns and with 37 career rushing touchdowns. He ranks third on the school's all-time points scored list with 240 and became just the fifth player in Carolina history to eclipse the 200-point plateau. Lattimore ranks in a tie for fourth among active NCAA players in rushing TDs (the only junior in the top eight). For more Lattimore numbers, see page 14 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 17 times. Junior Marcus Lattimore leads the way with 11 100-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.
ELEVEN 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. He had 23 carries for a season-best 120 yards and two scores at Kentucky and logged his third 100-yard rushing game of the season against Georgia when he toted the pigskin 24 times for 109 yards. It was his third 100-yard rushing game against the Bulldogs and the 11th of his career, tying Brandon Bennett and Harold Green for second on the school's all-time list.
AMONG THE BEST: Marcus Lattimore leads the Gamecocks and is sixth in the SEC in rushing with 129 carries for 584 yards, averaging 4.5 yards per carry and 83.4 yards per game this season. He has 10 of the Gamecocks' 14 rushing touchdowns. He ranks fourth the nation in career yards rushing per game, averaging 96.3 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 17 receptions for 159 yards and four touchdowns, has returned 18 punts for a 17.4-yard average - second in the SEC, 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 and again vs. Georgia.
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 17 receptions for 265 yards, a 15.6-yard average, and two touchdowns, and has returned six kickoffs for a 24.0-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: Damiere Byrd was on the receiving end of 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 12 receptions this season for 303 yards, a gaudy 25.2 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.
TRENDING TIGHT ENDS: The Gamecocks have brought the tight end back into vogue. Halfway through the regular season senior Justice Cunningham has 10 catches this season for 107 yards. He had just 27 receptions for 257 yards from 2009-11. Sophomore Rory "Busta" Anderson has become a big play threat. He has eight catches this season for 157 yards, a 19.6-yard average, with a team-leading four touchdowns. In his brief career, Anderson has seven TDs among his 16 catches with a 21.6-yard per catch average.
ALONG THE O-LINE: The Gamecocks' offensive line has a blend of youth and experience. Senior center T.J. Johnson, a Rimington Award candidate, recent SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week recipient and second-team Phil Steele Midseason All-American, anchors the line. He has started every game over the past four seasons, making 47 career starts, tying Cliff Matthews for the school record. 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 made 20 consecutive starts. Junior right guard Ronald Patrick has started all seven 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) started the first four games (two at left tackle and two at right tackle), but has not started since. 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 has gotten the call each of the last three weeks at right tackle. Redshirt sophomore tackle Corey Robinson has been the starting left tackle in each of the last four contests, his first career starts.
THE TOTAL PACKAGE: Carolina ranks third in the SEC and 12th in the nation in total defense, allowing just 296.3 yards per game (108.7 rushing/187.6 passing). The ranking is becoming the norm for the Gamecocks, as they ranked third in both the SEC and the country last season, surrendering just 267.7 yards per game (136.0 rushing/131.7 passing).
THE SAME ELEVEN: The Gamecocks have used the same starting 11 on defense in every game this season with the exception of the Missouri contest when D.J. Swearinger was suspended by the SEC for a helmet-to-helmet hit and T.J. Gurley filled in at the safety position.
NOT ON OUR WATCH: Carolina has surrendered 86 points through the first six games (eight touchdowns and 10 field goals), ranking second in the SEC and fifth in the country in scoring defense at 12.29 points per game. The Gamecocks have been especially stingy in the first and third quarters, allowing just nine and 13 points respectively in those two stanzas.
SACK ATTACK: The Gamecocks racked up a season-high eight sacks in the win at Kentucky, and own 26 sacks on the season, tops in the SEC and the nation's fourth-highest total. Sophomore Jadeveon Clowney leads the way with 6.5 sacks and Chaz Sutton has added 4.0, while 12 different players have figured into the total. Clowney ranks third in the SEC with both his 6.5 sacks and with 12.0 tackles for loss.
WHY THEY'RE SO GOOD:
Despite turning the ball over 10 times, the Gamecocks have allowed just three points following a turnover this season.
The Gamecock defense has surrendered a total of 21 touchdowns in their last 17 games and has allowed more than two touchdowns just once in that stretch (Arkansas in 2011).
AND IMPRESSIVE IN THE REDZONE: The Gamecocks have allowed their opponents to venture inside the 20-yard line 19 times this season, but have surrendered a total of 59 points on 13 scores (5 TD/8 FG).
PICK THIS: The Gamecocks picked off a season-best four passes against ECU and have nine for the season. Linebacker Shaq Wilson Spur DeVonte Holloman and cornerback Jimmy Legree lead the way with two each. Legree returned one of his for a touchdown against ECU and his other 70 yards to the one at LSU. 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.
SHAQ ATTACK: Senior linebacker Shaq Wilson has been outstanding this season. In addition to his two interceptions, Wilson, the quarterback of the defense, leads the team lead with 44 tackles, including a career-high 14 stops at LSU.
I SWEAR HE'S BACK: Senior safety D.J. Swearinger returned to the Gamecock lineup 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 26 tackles, an interception, five pass breakups and a 65-yard fumble return for a touchdown this season. His six passes defended ranks in a tie for fifth in the SEC. He logged a season-best 10 stops at LSU.
CALL ME MAYBE: Senior cornerback Akeem Auguste returned to action at Kentucky. It was his first active duty since the Georgia game in 2011 and just his second game since the 2010 season. Auguste, who missed all but one game last season with a foot injury while getting a medical redshirt season, 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 38.4 yards on 30 punts with seven inside the 20, 12 fair catches, 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 is 3-for-5 on field goals with a long of 38 yards and a perfect 30-for-30 on extra point attempts. The Gamecocks' five field goal attempts are tied with Georgia for the fewest in the SEC. 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 15 touchbacks on 29 kicks.
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:
MR. FOOTBALL: The Gamecocks have signed the last four "Mr. Football" winners in the state of South Carolina: Stephon Gilmore in 2009, followed by Marcus Lattimore in 2010, Jadeveon Clowney in 2011 and Shaq Roland in 2012.
EARNING THEIR KEEP: Steve Spurrier put five former walk-on players on scholarship for the 2012-13 school year. The quintet includes offensive center Travis Ford, deep snapper Walker Inabinet, defensive back Jared Shaw, holder Seth Strickland and placekicker Adam Yates.
UP NEXT: The Gamecocks return home next week when they take on the Tennessee Volunteers at Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday, October 27. Tennessee leads the all-time series 22-6-2, but the Gamecocks have won the last two and three of the last four meetings. Carolina is 4-8-2 when hosting the Vols in Columbia. The Gamecocks were 14-3 winners last season in Knoxville.