Oct. 26, 2012
The No. 17/16 South Carolina Gamecocks (6-2, 4-2 SEC) return home on Saturday, October 27, to host the Tennessee Volunteers (3-4, 0-4 SEC). Game time is set for noon at Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250) in Columbia. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN with Dave Pasch and Brian Griese in the booth and Jenn Brown working the sidelines. The Gamecocks will be looking to snap a two-game losing streak, while the Vols will be searching for their first SEC win of the season.
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 560-545-44. 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. TENNESSEE: This is the 31st meeting in a series that dates back to 1903. Tennessee leads the all-time series, 22-6-2. The Vols are 8-4-2 all-time in Columbia and hold a 14-1 advantage in Knoxville. South Carolina has won the last two meetings, posting a 14-3 victory in Knoxville last season after rolling up a 38-24 in Williams-Brice Stadium in 2010. It's the first time South Carolina has ever defeated Tennessee in back-to-back meetings. Carolina has won three of the last four and four of the last seven contests. South Carolina's only two overtime contests (both losses) have come at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, a 23-20 setback in 2003 and a 27-24 loss in 2007.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: Freshman tailback Brandon Wilds rushed for a career-high 137 yards on 28 carries in his first career start and the Gamecock defense limited the Vols to just 186 total yards, as Carolina defeated Tennessee, 14-3, on Oct. 29, 2011, in Knoxville. South Carolina finished the evening with 318 total yards with 231 of those coming on the ground. Connor Shaw rushed 16 times for 64 yards and completed 10-of-18 in the air for 87 yards and a touchdown in the defensive slugfest. It was the Gamecocks' second-straight win over the Vols, Carolina's first back-to-back wins over the Vols in history. For more on the game, see page 12.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET IN COLUMBIA: Alshon Jeffery's 70-yard touchdown catch broke a fourth-quarter tie and the Gamecocks went on to hand Tennessee a 38-24 setback on Oct. 30, 2010 in Columbia. When Devin Taylor had a "pick-six" early in the third quarter, the Gamecocks seemed to have things well in hand with a 24-10 lead, but Tennessee rallied behind Tyler Bray to knot the game early in the fourth period. But Jeffery's score put Carolina back on top and Stephen Garcia sealed the win with a 1-yard run with 3:28 left in the contest, his second rushing touchdown of the day. Marcus Lattimore did the bulk of the work for the Gamecock offense, carrying 29 times for 184 yards and a touchdown. For more on the game, see page 13.
SPURRIER VS. TENNESSEE: South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier owns a 13-8 all-time record against Tennessee, including a 4-3 mark as head coach at South Carolina. For a game-by-game listing, please refer to page 18 of these notes.
THE LAST TIME OUT: The No. 9 Gamecocks turned the ball over on three fumbles in their first seven possessions leading to 21 Florida points, en route to a 44-11 setback in the Swamp last Saturday. The Gamecocks won some of the statistical battles, including more first downs (17-14) and total yards (191-183), but the third-ranked Gators took advantage of an average starting field position of the 50-yard line to roll up the big win. Four of Florida's touchdown "drives" started inside the Carolina 30-yard line, including two from inside the 5.
LIES AND STATISTICS: The Gamecocks surrendered a season-high 44 points at Florida, their high-water mark since allowing 44 at Arkansas last season and over three times what they had been allowing per game (14.0) entering the Florida contest. However, the Gamecock defense allowed just 183 yards of total offense to the Gators, the fifth-fewest yards surrendered by a Carolina team under Steve Spurrier, and the fewest since allowing just 96 yards against Kentucky last season. Carolina gave up just 89 rushing yards to a Florida team that came in averaging 233 on the ground, holding Mike Gileslee, who had been averaging 102.5 yards per game and 5.1 yards per carry, to 37 yards on 19 carries (1.9 per rush).
ALL OR NOTHING: Amazingly, all 14 Florida possessions (excluding when the clock ran out at the end of the game) ended in either a score or a 3-and-out. The Gators had seven scores (six TDs and a field goal) and seven 3-and-outs. On only one of the seven 3-and-outs did Florida have positive yardage (6 yards). The other six "drives" went for -7, -5, -12, 0, -7 and 0 yards.
YAY(TS) FOR ADAM: Senior kicker Adam Yates tallied nine of the Gamecocks' 11 points at Florida. The Sparks, Md. product was 3-for-4 in field goal attempts, hitting from 35, 30 and from a career-long 51 yards out. His previous long was 38 yards. Yates was just 3-of-5 on the season entering the Florida game. The 51-yarder was the longest for a Gamecock kicker since Spencer Lanning hit from the same distance against Furman in 2010 and tied for the ninth-longest field goal in school history. For the season, Yates is 6-of-9 in field goals, but two of his three misses have been blocked. He is a perfect 30-for-30 in 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 and has produced 16 touchbacks on 31 kicks.
THE TOP-10 GAUNTLET: The Gamecocks completed a three-game gauntlet in which it played teams ranked among the nation's Top-10. Carolina defeated No. 5 Georgia n Columbia before falling 23-21 at No. 9 LSU in the Bayou and 44-11 at No. 3 Florida in the Swamp. Carolina's first five opponents have combined for a 13-24 record, but their last three opponents, Georgia (6-1), LSU (7-1) and Florida (7-0) are a combined 20-2.
THE HEAD BALL COACH: Steve Spurrier is in his eighth season directing the Gamecock football program. He has logged a 61-37 mark (.622) 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 98, behind Enright (140). Spurrier owns a 203-77-2 mark (.723) 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.
IN THE POLLS: The Gamecocks have been ranked in the Associated Press Top-25 for 40 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.
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 40 consecutive weeks. Only Alabama, LSU, Oregon and Oklahoma have consecutive streaks longer in the AP Top-25 than the Gamecocks and Cardinal.
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.
TOP HOME STREAKS: The Gamecocks have won eight straight home games, their longest stretch since joining the SEC. Here are the top home winning streaks:
NO HARM, NO FOUL: The Gamecocks are the least penalized team in the SEC this season. They have been flagged just 34 times in eight games, 4.25 penalties per game, losing just 33.2 yards per game in penalties.
SANDERS IS SPECIAL: 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 15.7 yards per return, 10th in the nation. Sanders was named to Phil Steele's fourth-team All-America squad as a punt returner.
ACE LOOKING TO BE NO. 1: Ace Sanders is averaging 15.7-yard per punt return. Bobby Bryant holds the school record by returning 13 punts for 242 yards, an 18.6-yard average in 1966. Here are the single-season punt return leaders by yards in school history:
SHAW AT THE HELM: Connor Shaw is 13-3 as a starting quarterback, the best record after 16 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 85 carries for 278 yards) or his arm (65.6 percent completion percentage with nine touchdowns and four interceptions). For his career, he has completed 65.9 percent of his passes (tops in school history) for 2,653 yards and 24 touchdowns with 12 interceptions. He also has rushed 252 times for 968 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 .659 (230-of-349) 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)
SCORING WITH LATTI: Marcus Lattimore did not score a touchdown at Florida, snapping his streak of scoring a TD at eight games. He has 10 touchdowns this season. He is eighth in scoring in the SEC, averaging 7.5 points per game. Lattimore has scored in eight of the last nine games and in 22 of his 28 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 sixth among active NCAA players in rushing TDs. 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.
COMING UP ACES: Junior wide receiver Ace Sanders has done it all this season. He is second on the team with 19 receptions for 191 yards and four touchdowns, has returned 20 punts for a 15.7-yard average - second in the SEC, and completed a 16-yard touchdown pass to D.L. Moore in the win over East Carolina. 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 third on the team with 17 receptions for 265 yards, a 15.6-yard average, and two touchdowns, and has returned nine kickoffs for a 21.4-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 a team-leading 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 team 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. Senior Justice Cunningham has 12 catches this season for 120 yards. He had just 27 receptions for 257 yards from 2009-11. Sophomore Rory "Busta" Anderson has become a big play threat. He has nine catches this season for 177 yards, a 19.7-yard average, with a team-leading four touchdowns. In his brief career, Anderson has seven TDs among his 17 catches with a 21.5-yard per catch average.
SHUFFLE ON 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 a school record 48 career starts. 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 started 20 of the last 21 games. Junior right guard Ronald Patrick has started every game this season, his first career starts. The tackle position has been more fluid. True sophomore Mike Matulis (10 career starts) has made five starts this season, three at left tackle and two at right tackle. 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 four games at right tackle. Redshirt sophomore tackle Corey Robinson has been the starting left tackle in four of the last five contests, his first career starts.
THE TOTAL PACKAGE: Carolina ranks fourth in the SEC and ninth in the nation in total defense, allowing 282.1 yards per game (106.2 rushing/175.9 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).
SACK ATTACK: The Gamecocks racked up a season-high eight sacks at Kentucky, and own 29 sacks on the season, tops in the SEC and the nation's fifth-highest total. Sophomore Jadeveon Clowney leads the way with 7.5 sacks (tied for 18th in the nation) and Chaz Sutton has added 4.0, while 12 different players have figured into the total. Clowney ranks second in the SEC with both his 7.5 sacks and with 14.0 tackles for loss.
GETTING IN THE SACK: Here are the individual Gamecocks' sack totals for 2012 and career:
Player 2012 Sacks Career Sacks Devin Taylor 2.5 18.0 Jadeveon Clowney7.5 15.5 Byron Jerideau 2.0 5.5 Chaz Sutton 4.0 5.0 Aldrick Fordham 3.5 3.5 Shaq Wilson 1.0 3.0 Kelcy Quarles 2.5 2.5 DeVonte Holloman2.0 2.0 Akeem Auguste 0.0 1.0 Reginald Bowens 1.0 1.0 Gerald Dixon 1.0 1.0 Quin Smith 1.0 1.0 Brison Williams 1.0 1.0
BEHIND THE LINE: The Gamecocks rank seventh in the nation in tackles for loss with 64 in eight games, an average of 8.0 per game. Jadeveon Clowney leads the way with 14.0 TFLs, tied for 10th in the nation.
SACK CITY: The Gamecocks have 29 sacks through eight games. At an average of 3.63 sacks per game, they are on pace for 47 sacks this season, which would set a new school record. Here are the top sacks seasons since it became an official statistic in 1990:
RK Year Games Sacks S/GM 1. 2010 14 41 2.93 2. 2005 12 32 2.67 3. 2006 13 31 2.38 2008 13 31 2.38 2011 13 31 2.38 6. 1995 11 30 2.73 7. 2012 8 29 3.63
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 (16 starts) and Damario Jeffery (5 starts) handle the Mike position; Shaq Wilson (28 starts) and Quin Smith (4 starts) man the Will position; and DeVonte Holloman (30 starts) gets the call at the Spur position.
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 50 tackles, including a career-high 14 stops at LSU.
I SWEAR HE CAN PLAY: Senior safety D.J. Swearinger, considered the biggest hitter of the defense, is one of the team's top playmakers as well, with 30 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 seventh in the SEC. He logged a season-best 10 stops at LSU.
PICK THIS: The Gamecocks picked off a season-best four passes against East Carolina 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 East Carolina 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.
UP NEXT: The Gamecocks will enjoy their only off week of the season next weekend. The Gamecocks will return to action when they host the Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday, November 10, at Williams-Brice Stadium. It will be the final SEC regular season game of the 2012 season. The two teams have met every year since they joined the SEC with Arkansas holding a 13-7 advantage in the series. The teams have split 10 games in Columbia evenly.
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