Oct. 28, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Gamecocks (3-4, 1-4 SEC) return to SEC action when they host the No. 18/18 Tennessee Volunteers (5-2, 2-2 SEC) in a 7:15 pm contest on Saturday, October 29, at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia. The game will be televised on ESPN2 with Mark Jones and Rod Gilmore in the booth and Quint Kessenich working the sidelines.
CAROLINA VS. TENNESSEE
This is the 35th gridiron meeting between the Gamecocks and Volunteers in a series that dates back to 1903. Tennessee leads the all-time series, 25-7-2. The Vols are 9-5-2 all-time in Columbia and hold a 16-2 advantage in Knoxville. Tennessee has won each of the last three meetings by a combined eight points, after the Gamecocks had won three-straight from 2010-12. In fact, each of the last four contests has been decided by three points or less. The Gamecocks defeated Tennessee three times in a 105-year period from 1903-2007, then won four times in a five-year period from 2008-2012.
LET'S PLAY 60 MINUTES
South Carolina is 2-3 in five overtime games in school history. Three of those five overtime games have come against the Vols, all resulting in three-point Gamecock losses.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET
South Carolina rallied from 17 points down and twice tied the Volunteers, but a forced fumble with 32 seconds remaining ended a potential scoring drive for the Gamecocks in their final possession in a 27-24 loss in Neyland Stadium on November 7, 2015. Perry Orth completed 20-of-29 passes for 233 yards and Brandon Wilds rushed 20 times for 79 yards.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET HERE
Brandon Wilds rambled 70 yards to paydirt with just under five minutes remaining in regulation to give the Gamecocks a 42-28 lead, but the Vols rallied with a pair of touchdowns in the final two minutes, then won the game in overtime on a 32-yard field goal to pull out an improbable 45-42 win in Columbia on November 1, 2014. Wilds finished the game with a career-high 143 yards on just eight carries. Pharoh Cooper also had a career night, catching 11 passes for a school record 233 yards and two touchdowns, including an 85-yard TD strike, and also ran for a score and threw for another, accounting for four touchdowns. Dylan Thompson completed 20-of-32 passes for 347 yards. The 87 points scored were the most in the series between the two schools, as the teams combined for 1,270 yards and 61 first downs.
LIGHTING UP THE SCOREBOARD
The Gamecock offense has had its way against Tennessee in each of the last four games played in Columbia, with Carolina tallying 27 in 2008, then 38 points in both the 2010 and 2012 wins, before scoring 42 in an overtime loss in 2014, the most points they have scored in a game in series history. The Gamecocks have scored at least 24 points in each of their last six home games against the Vols.
GOOD OLE ROCKY TOP
South Carolina's true freshman offensive lineman Sadarius Hutcherson hails from Huntingdon, Tenn., which is located about 300 miles straight west of Knoxville. Gamecock assistant coaches Kurt Roper (2006-07), Lance Thompson (2009-11), and Pat Washington (1995-05) all logged stints with the Vols. Tennessee assistant coach Robert Gillespie was on Steve Spurrier's staff at South Carolina from 2005-08.
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 589-566-44.
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 84-112-1 (.429) all-time in SEC regular-season play, but are 29-25 (.537) in conference action since the start of the 2010 season.
THE LAST TIME OUT
Freshman Jake Bentley made his collegiate debut, leading the Gamecocks to a 34-28 non-conference win over UMass last Saturday afternoon in Columbia. Bentley completed 17-of-26 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns in the win. His top target was Deebo Samuel, who caught eight passes for 106 yards. Freshman Rico Dowdle (87 yards, 1 TD) and David Williams (69 yards, 2 TD) helped the Gamecocks to a season-high 194 yards on the ground. The defense surrendered 28 points for the second game in a row, but forced four turnovers.
UMASS GAME SUPERLATIVES
- The Gamecock offense set season highs in rushing yards (194), total yards (395) and points (34).
SEVEN DARK THIRTY
The Gamecocks are one of only seven Division I teams that has held every opponent below 30 points. The others: Auburn, Boise State, LSU, Michigan, Ohio State and Washington.
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.
WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE
Carolina has 19 players who have made their first collegiate start in 2016. Of the 19 first-time starters, seven are true freshmen: Jake Bentley, Randrecous Davis, Chavis Dawkins, Rico Dowdle, Bryan Edwards, Brandon McIlwain, and Keir Thomas. Here's how that compares nationally:
TRUE FRESHMEN STARTERS
Elliott Fry has scored 323 career points, seven shy of the school record of 330, held by Collin Mackie (1987-90). Fry is in 18th place on the SEC list of career points scored, three behind Tennessee's James Wilhoit. 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 is Georgia's Marshall Morgan with 64.
THE FRIENDLY CONFINES
This is game four of a five-game homestand for the Gamecocks. Carolina opened the season with three road games in their first four contests, including three SEC road contests, all at night. The Gamecocks are 26-9 in their last 35 home games (.743) and 42-12 (.778) in their last 54 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.
EVERY TIME OUT
The Gamecocks have had eight players start every game this 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.
WALK THIS WAY
The following regular contributors began their Carolina careeers as walk-ons: Jacob August, Matrick Belton, Javon Charleston, Elliott Fry, Hayden Hurst, Sean Kelly, Steven Montac, Perry Orth, Darius Paulk, Rod Talley and Drew Williams.
The Gamecocks have used three starting quarterbacks for the second-straight year. 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 before giving way to McIlwain for the next three. Orth returned to the starting role against Georgia. True freshman Jake Bentley, who arrived in the summer, made his Gamecock debut last week against UMass.
FIVE GUYS SPLITTING A SIX-PACK
The Gamecocks have won six games over the past two seasons, with five different starting quarterbacks accounting for the wins. Perry Orth has won twice as the starting QB, while Connor Mitch, Lorenzo Nuñez, Brandon McIlwain and Jake Bentley each have one win.
TURNING THE KEYS OVER TO BENTLEY
True freshman Jake Bentley made his Gamecock debut last Saturday in the win over UMass. He completed 17-of-26 passes for 201 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He became the third true freshman quarterback to start for the Gamecocks in the past two seasons, joining Lorenzo Nuñez and Brandon McIlwain. Bentley, who passed on his senior year of high school to enroll at South Carolina, is actually about six months older than fellow true freshman McIlwain. Bentley will turn 19 on November 23, while McIlwain will not turn 19 until May 31.
FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME
When he got the call against UMass in week 7, Jake Bentley became just the fifth true freshman to start at quarterback for the Gamecocks since joining the SEC. Steve Taneyhill (1992), Mikal Goodman (1999), Lorenzo Nuñez (2015) and Brandon McIlwain (2016) were the others.
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, earning the start against Georgia. He was 26-for-36 for 288 yards, all season highs, against the Bulldogs, He is 2-9 in his 11 career starts.
True freshman quarterback Brandon McIlwain has appeared in six games, starting 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.
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN
Carolina's wide receivers had limited experience entering the season, combining for just 28 catches and 356 yards, and has been plagued by injuries in 2016. The squad's top three wideouts, Deebo Samuel, Bryan Edwards and Randrecous Davis, have all missed time with hamstring injuries. 54 of the 132 pass receptions have been by freshmen (40.9 percent) and 34 of 57 catches by the wide receiving corps have been by freshmen (59.6 percent). Samuel, who got healthy in time for the Georgia game, has caught 12 passes for 196 yards in the last two contests after having just four receptions for 66 yards in the season's first five games.
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. He was the only freshman receiver in the country to log a 100-yard game in the season's first week. It was just the eighth 100-yard receiving game in a season opener in Gamecock history and he is the only true freshman on the list. He ranks seventh in the nation among freshmen in receiving yards (50.0) and eighth in receptions (3.8) per game.
IN THE HURST WAY
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 31 catches for 397 yards, with at least five receptions in four games and at least 80 yards in three contests. His best marks are an eight-catch performance at Mississippi State and a 90-yard effort against Texas A&M. He ranks eighth in the SEC with 4.4 receptions per game. Hurst also served as the Gamecocks' punt returner against Georgia, becoming the biggest punt returner in Division I football this season.
HISTORY IN THE MAKING
Tight end Hayden Hurst is on pace to become the first non-wide receiver to lead the Gamecocks in receptions since Ryan Brewer logged 28 in 2002, and could become the first tight end to lead the team in receptions since Chris Corley had 24 in 1982. The single-season program records for tight end receptions and receiving yards are held by Jared Cook, who logged 37 catches for 573 yards in 2008. Hurst is already the first Carolina tight end with 30 or more catches since Weslye Saunders had 32 in 2009.
THE QB'S ARE TIGHT WITH THEM
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 31 catches for 397 yards, Crosby is tied for third on the team with 16 receptions for 135 yards, and August has added five catches for 52 yards. Of the 132 pass receptions, the tight ends have 53 catches (40.2 pct.), the wide receivers have 57 (43.2 pct.) and the running backs have 22 (16.7 pct.).
LEAVE IT TO THE COMMITTEE
The Gamecocks have three running backs in the rotation. Redshirt freshman A.J. Turner has taken the bulk of the carries, but David Williams has more than twice as many career rushes. True freshman Rico Dowdle has come on strongly after missing the first four games with a sports hernia. Dowdle set personal highs with 16 carries and 87 yards against UMass. 579 of the Gamecocks' 748 rushing yards have been by freshmen (77.4 percent). Here's the South Carolina running back numbers:
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. He is the Gamecocks' top rusher with 68 carries for 300 yards and two touchdowns, and has added 15 catches for 104 yards and a score. Turner, who also averages 25.4 yards per kickoff return, ranks seventh in the nation among freshmen with 97.6 all-purpose yards per game.
TURN(ER) OF THE CENTURY
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.
HE'S NOT YOUR UNCLE RICO
After undergoing surgery for a sports hernia in the offseason, 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, has been impressive in his three contests, carrying 32 times for 164 yards and two touchdowns, a 5.1-yard average.
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.
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 and consistently grades out as the offensive line's top performer.
KNOTT YOUR STARTING CENTER
Junior Alan Knott, a preseason Rimington Award candidate, has made 23 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.
WE MAY NEVER PASS THIS WAY AGAIN
South Carolina's defense held Georgia to 29 passing yards, the fewest of any Gamecock opponent this season. In fact, it was the fewest passing yards allowed by the Gamecock defense since The Citadel recorded eight yards passing against Carolina in 2011. The Gamecocks rank second in the SEC and 18th in the country in pass defense, allowing just 183.6 yards per game through the air.
RED ZONE DEFENSE
The Gamecocks rank fourth in the SEC and 11th in the nation in red zone defense, allowing points just 69.0 percent of the time. In 29 opportunities, the Carolina defense has allowed just 14 touchdowns and six field goals, while forcing a league-high five turnovers in the red zone.
EVERY GAME QUA
Defensive lineman Marquavius Lewis has started all 19 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 6.0 of the squad's 12 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 fourth in the SEC and 19th in the country in sacks. He needs three more sacks to move into a six-way tie for fifth in school history with 9.0 sacks in a season and into a tie for ninth with 15.0 sacks in a career.
GETTING IN THE SACK
The Gamecocks have 12 sacks, producing a season-high four sacks against both East Carolina and Kentucky.
The Gamecocks have picked off eight passes this season. Chris Lammons is tied for fourth in the SEC with three.
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 133 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 (139) and attempted (140) and is second in points scored with 319, 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 has been busy this season, punting 42 times, third in the SEC. He is averaging 41.4 yards with 20 inside the 20 and a long of 66 yards.
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).
SHOW ME 30 AND I'LL SHOW YOU A WIN
Will Muschamp owns a perfect 18-0 record when his team has scored 30 or more points in his four-plus years as a head coach.
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.
O' CAPTAIN MY CAPTAIN
The Gamecocks will select game captains each week before naming permanent team captains for the season.
The Gamecocks host the Missouri Tigers in the battle of the Columbias next Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mizzou leads the all-time series by a 4-2 count, with wins in each of the last two contests. The teams have split four games evenly since the Tigers joined the SEC in 2012.
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