Nov. 9, 2012
The No. 12/11 South Carolina Gamecocks (7-2, 5-2 SEC) swing back into action this week when they host the Arkansas Razorbacks (4-5, 2-3 SEC) on Saturday, November 10. Game time is set for noon at Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250) in Columbia. The Homecoming game will mark the final SEC contest of the year for Carolina. The game will be televised nationally on CBS with Tim Brando and Steve Beuerlein in the booth and Marty Snider working the sidelines. Dial Global Sports is on hand for the national radio broadcast. John Tautges and Randy Cross have the call.
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 561-545-44. 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. ARKANSAS: This is the 21st game in a series that dates back to 1992 when both schools joined the SEC. The Razorbacks lead the all-time series, 13-7. The teams have split 10 games in Columbia evenly, but the Razorbacks hold an 8-2 advantage when the games have been played in their home state (5-1 in Fayetteville and 3-1 in Little Rock). Arkansas has won each of the last three meetings, including a 44-28 win in Fayetteville in 2011 and a 41-20 win in Columbia in 2010. South Carolina's lone win in the last six meetings was a 34-21 triumph in Columbia in 2008.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: In a battle of Top-10 teams, No. 10 South Carolina pulled to within two points early in the fourth quarter, but No. 8 Arkansas responded with the game's final 14 points in a 44-28 Razorback victory in Fayetteville on Nov. 5, 2011. Tyler Wilson completed 20-of-37 passes for 299 yards for the Hogs as they rolled up 435 yards of offense compared to just 207 for Carolina. Special teams also came up big for Arkansas as Zach Hocker hit three field goals and Dennis Johnson took a kickoff 98 yards for a score. Connor Shaw rushed for two touchdowns and the Gamecocks got a defensive score from Devin Taylor on a 48-yard "pick-six." For more on the game, see page 12.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET IN COLUMBIA: Ryan Mallett threw for 303 yards and Knile Davis rushed for three scores to lead Arkansas to a 41-20 win in Columbia on Nov. 6, 2010. The Hogs scored on four of their five first-half possessions to lead 24-10 at the break, and scored the first 17 points of the second half to put the game away. For more on the game, see page 13.
SPURRIER VS. ARKANSAS: Steve Spurrier owns a 5-5 career record against the Razorbacks, including a 2-5 mark as the head coach of the Gamecocks. He is 2-3 in Fayetteville, 1-1 in Columbia, 1-0 in Gainesville, and 1-0 in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta (34-3 in 1995). For a game-by-game listing, please see page 18.
THE LAST TIME OUT: The No. 17/16 Gamecocks got a career-best performance from quarterback Connor Shaw and held off the Tennessee Volunteers in a 38-35 shootout at Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 27. Shaw completed 22-of-32 passes for a career-high 356 yards and three touchdowns, and rushed 18 times for 33 yards and another score, earning SEC Offensive Player of the Week accolades. Justice Cunningham (6 catches, 108 yards) and Bruce Ellington (6 catches, 101 yards) each had career-best receiving days. Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney had a key sack and strip of Vol QB Tyler Bray late in the fourth quarter, preserving the Carolina win. The victory celebration was dampened by the loss of standout running back Marcus Lattimore, who suffered a season-ending knee injury late in the first half. Lattimore finished the day with 11 carries for 65 yards, including a 28-yard TD.
HITTING THE CENTURY MARK: The Gamecocks did not have a 100-yard receiver all season until the Tennessee game - then they had two. Both Justice Cunningham (108 yards) and Bruce Ellington (101 yards) went over the century mark for the first time in their careers. It was the first time the Gamecocks had a pair of receivers go over the 100-yard mark since Alshon Jeffery (158) and Tori Gurley (112) accomplished the feat at Vanderbilt in 2010.
LUCKY SEVEN: With a 7-2 record, Carolina has seven-or-more wins for 24th time in school history. Only 12 of those teams reached eight wins or more. Here are the 7-, 8-, 9- and 10-win seasons prior to 2012:
7 wins - 12 times: 1924, 1925, 1953, 1956, 1958, 1969, 1973, 1975, 1994, 2005, 2008, 2009.
WINNING MORE OFTEN: By securing their seventh win of the season, the Gamecocks have assured themselves of a fifth-straight winning season and a school-record nine-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.
GOOD HOME COOKIN': The Gamecocks have won their last nine games at Williams-Brice Stadium, including a perfect 5-0 record 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 25-3 in its last 28 home games.
TOP HOME STREAKS: The Gamecocks have won nine straight home games, their longest stretch since joining the SEC and tying for the third-longest streak in school history. Here are the top home winning streaks:
PERFECT AT HOME: The Gamecocks are 5-0 at Williams-Brice Stadium this season. They have not run the table at home since joining the SEC. The last time they went undefeated at home for an entire season was in 1987 (7-0). They have been undefeated and untied at home nine times in their history: 1902 (6-0), 1907 (2-0), 1912 (4-0), 1958 (5-0), 1969 (5-0), 1979 (7-0), 1980 (7-0), 1984 (7-0) and 1987 (7-0).
AND NOT BAD ON THE ROAD EITHER: Carolina is 2-2 on the road this season, with both losses coming at Top-10 teams, but has won eight of its last 11 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.
THE HEAD BALL COACH: Steve Spurrier is in his eighth season directing the Gamecock football program. He has logged a 62-37 mark (.626) in Columbia. Coach Spurrier needs two wins to tie and three 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 62 behind only Rex Enright (64) and is second in games coached with 99, behind Enright (140). Spurrier owns a 204-77-2 mark (.724) 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 204 wins.
REACHING 250: In addition to his 204 wins as a college coach, Steve Spurrier has an additional 47 wins as a head coach at the professional level, giving him 251 career coaching wins.
NUMBER 100 AT CAROLINA: This week's game will mark Coach Spurrier's 100th career game as the head coach of the Gamecocks.
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 despite 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.
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. There have been seven winning streaks of six games or more in school history, including two during the Spurrier Era.
AN SEC SIX-PACK: With a 5-2 SEC mark, the Gamecocks have a chance to reach six SEC victories for the second year in a row. They recorded six SEC wins for first time in school history in 2011. They finished the 2000, 2001, 2005 and 2010 seasons with 5-3 SEC marks. Carolina will finish with at least a .500 SEC mark for the 10th time in 21 seasons and with three in a row for the first time in history. They were also 4-4 in 1994, 1996, 2004 and 2008.
IN THE POLLS: The Gamecocks have been ranked in the Associated Press Top-25 for 42 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 42 consecutive weeks. Only Alabama, LSU, Oregon and Oklahoma have consecutive streaks longer in the AP Top-25 than the Gamecocks and Cardinal.
Team - Weeks
THEY PAY TO SEE THE GAMECOCKS PLAY: The Gamecocks averaged 79,131 in their seven home games in the 2011 season, ranking 16th in the country. After five home games this season, Carolina is averaging 80,251 per game, 17th in the country. They established a new school record when 85,199 attended the Georgia game on October 6.
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 15.9 yards per return, sixth 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 15.9-yard per punt return. Bobby Bryant holds the school record by returning 13 punts for 242 yards, an 18.6-yard average in 1966. Sanders needs just 29 yards to become the school's single-season leader in punt return yardage, passing Dick Harris's record, set in 1971. Here are the single-season punt return leaders by yards in school history:
Player Year Ret. Yards Avg. Dick Harris 1971 37 362 9.8 Jerry Dunlay 1983 27 354 13.1 Ace Sanders 2012 21 334 15.9 Dick Harris 1970 30 319 10.6 Billy Stephens 1951 18 309 17.1 Troy Thomas 1981 27 304 11.3
COMING UP ACES: Junior wide receiver Ace Sanders has done it all this season. He is second on the team with 24 receptions for 270 yards and five touchdowns, has returned 21 punts for a 15.9-yard average - tops 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.
SHAW AT THE HELM: Connor Shaw is 14-3 as a starting quarterback (8-0 at home), the best record after 17 games of any signal-caller in Carolina history. The 6-1, 207-pounder junior from Flowery Branch, Ga. has completed 66.2 percent of his passes for 1,338 yards and 12 touchdowns with just five interceptions this season. He is third in the SEC in efficiency rating (155.0).
3000-1000 CLUB: Junior quarterback Connor Shaw has become just the second player in South Carolina history to pass for over 3,000 yards in a career and rush for over 1,000 yards. Shaw went over both plateaus against Tennessee and now has 3,009 yards passing and 1,001 yards rushing. Jeff Grantz is the only other Gamecock to do so. Grantz threw for 3,440 yards while rushing for 1,577.
SEC ACCOLADES: Connor Shaw was honored as the SEC Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts in the win over Tennessee when he hit on 22-of-32 passes for a career-high 356 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Tennessee. He added 33 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. It was the second time he was honored as the league's Offensive Player of the Week this season (also against Missouri when he completed 20-of-21 passes for 249 yards and 2 TDs) and the fourth time in his career (also Kentucky and Clemson in 2011). Shaw's only other 300-yard passing game came in 2011 against Kentucky (311).
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 .661 (252-of-381) 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)
QB'S UNDER THE HBC: Here are the records of the starting Gamecock QB's under Steve Spurrier:
Quarterback Record Pct. Stephen Garcia 20-14 .588 Connor Shaw 14-3 .824 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
QB WINS SINCE 1971: Here are the winningest starting quarterbacks at South Carolina since 1971:
Quarterback Record Pct. Todd Ellis 24-16-3 .593 Garry Harper 20-12-1 .621 Stephen Garcia 20-14 .588 Steve Taneyhill 20-19-1 .526 Phil Petty 17-12 .586 Connor Shaw 14-3 .824 Jeff Grantz 14-14 .500 Blake Mitchell 13-10 .565
THROWIN' IN THE WIND: Redshirt sophomore Dylan Thompson made his first start in place of an injured Connor Shaw against East Carolina 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 TDs and no picks. 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 35-of-73 for 593 yards and five touchdowns with no INTs.
LATTIMORE OUT: The Gamecocks suffered a huge blow when All-American Marcus Lattimore was lost for the second straight season with a knee injury. Lattimore suffered a right knee injury late in the first half against Tennessee in the season's ninth game. He underwent surgery on Friday, Nov. 2. He suffered a left knee injury in the seventh game of the 2011 campaign at Mississippi State. The Gamecocks were able to overcome that setback last year, winning five of six games after the injury. See page 14 for Lattimore's numbers.
MAKING MUSIC WITH MILES & DAVIS: With the season-ending knee injury to Marcus Lattimore, the Gamecocks will turn to the duet of Kenny Miles and Mike Davis. Miles, a fifth-year senior, has carried 42 times this season for 149 yards, but has 253 career totes for 1,131 yards, a 4.5-yard average and three 100-yard rushing games. Davis, a true freshman, has carried 24 times for 157 yards, 6.5 yards per carry. Sophomore Brandon Wilds has not played this season, but it's possible he could take his redshirt off. Wilds had 107 carries for 486 yards in 2011, including three 100-yard rushing games.
JOINING THE 1,000-YARD CLUB: Earlier this season, fifth-year senior running back Kenny Miles (1,131 yards) and junior quarterback Connor Shaw (1,001 yards) became the 39th and 40th players in Gamecock history to rush for 1,000 yards in a career.
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 23 receptions for 366 yards, a 15.9-yard average, and three touchdowns, and has returned 12 kickoffs for a 21.6-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 in a tie for 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. He 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 18 catches this season for 228 yards. He had just 27 receptions for 257 yards from 2009-11. Sophomore Rory "Busta" Anderson has become a big play threat. He has 12 catches this season for 235 yards, a 19.6-yard average, with five touchdowns. In his brief career, Anderson has eight TDs among his 20 catches with a 21.2-yard per catch average.
RECEIVING BY COMMITTEE: Without a standout receiver, the passing game has gone more by committee. Carolina QB's connected with 11 different receivers vs. both East Carolina and Florida.
THE O-LINE: 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 49 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 21 of the last 22 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 five games at right tackle. Redshirt sophomore tackle Corey Robinson has been the starting left tackle in five of the last six contests, his first career starts.
THE TOTAL PACKAGE: Carolina ranks fourth in the SEC and 12th in the nation in total defense, allowing 303.22 yards per game (104.6 rushing/198.7 passing). Last season, they ranked third in both the SEC and the country, 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 30 sacks on the year, tops in the SEC and tied for seventh in the nation. Sophomore Jadeveon Clowney leads the way with 8.5 sacks (tied for 11th in the country) 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 8.5 sacks (0.94/game) and with 15.0 tackles for loss (1.67/game).
SACK CITY: The Gamecocks have 30 sacks through nine games. At an average of 3.33 sacks per game, they are on pace for 43 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 9 30 3.33
BEHIND THE LINE: The Gamecocks rank tied for 15th in the nation in tackles for loss with 66 in nine games, an average of 7.33 per game. Jadeveon Clowney leads the way with 15.0 TFLs, tied for 12th in the nation.
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 (17 starts) and Damario Jeffery (5 starts) handle the Mike position; Shaq Wilson (29 starts) and Quin Smith (4 starts) man the Will position; and DeVonte Holloman (31 starts) gets the call at the Spur position.
SHAQ ATTACK: Senior linebacker Shaq Wilson has been outstanding this season. Wilson, the quarterback of the defense, leads the team lead with 54 tackles, including a career-high 14 stops at LSU. He also has two interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
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 40 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 and matched that against Tennessee.
PICK THIS: The Gamecocks picked off a season-best four passes against East Carolina and have 10 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.
YAY(TS) FOR ADAM: Senior kicker Adam Yates has come up big in the last two games. The Sparks, Md. product tallied nine of the Gamecocks' 11 points at Florida when he was 3-for-4 in field goal attempts, hitting from 35, 30 and from a career-long 51 yards out. His previous had been 38 yards. He then hit from 36 yards out in the fourth quarter against Tennessee, providing the margin of victory. Yates was just 3-of-5 on the season prior to 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 7-of-10 in field goals, but two of his three misses have been blocked. He is a perfect 35-for-35 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 18 touchbacks on 38 kicks.
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 40 punts with eight inside the 20, 15 fair catches, and four that have traveled 50+ yards. Both Hull and backup punter Patrick Fish, wear number 13.
NO HARM, NO FOUL: The Gamecocks are the second-least penalized team in the SEC this season. They have been flagged just 38 times (one more than Ole Miss) in nine games, 4.22 penalties per game, losing a league-low 32.9 yards per game in penalties.
NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN: The Gamecocks swept the "Big Three" of the SEC East - Florida, Georgia and Tennessee - in back-to-back seasons. They had never pulled that trifecta in any season prior to 2010. From 1992-2003, Carolina was 5-34 against the "Big Three," going 4-9 against Georgia, 1-12 versus Tennessee and winless in 13 tries against Florida. Since Coach Spurrier took over in 2005, Carolina is 12-12 against those same three teams including an 8-1 mark in the past three seasons. Since 2005, they are 5-3 versus Tennessee, 4-4 against Georgia and 3-5 against Florida.
CAPTAINS: After the Florida game, the Gamecocks voted "permanent" captains for the 2012 campaign. Those who were selected include Justice Cunningham, T.J. Johnson, Marcus Lattimore, D.J. Swearinger and Shaq Wilson.
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.
UP NEXT: The Gamecocks will play their final home game of the season next Saturday afternoon when they host in-state rival Wofford. Game time is set for 1 p.m. at Williams-Brice Stadium and the game will be televised throughout the Palmetto State on a pay-per-view basis. South Carolina and Wofford have met 22 times on the gridiron with the Gamecocks holding a commanding 18-4 advantage, including a 16-2 mark in Columbia. The Gamecocks have won the last 15 and 18 of the last 19 meetings in the series. Wofford's last win came in 1917 by a 20-0 score.
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