Nov. 11, 2011
It's Homecoming Weekend as the No. 15/15 South Carolina Gamecocks (7-2, 5-2 SEC) return to Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250) for the first time since Oct. 8 when they host SEC Eastern Division rival Florida (5-4, 3-4 SEC) on Saturday, November 12. Game time is set for noon ET. CBS will televise the contest nationally. Verizon is this week's game sponsor. This is the final regular season SEC game for Carolina. The Gamecocks will play their last two regular season contests at home against non-conference instate foes, The Citadel and Clemson.
The Gamecocks can clinch the SEC Eastern Division title with a win over the Gators coupled with a Georgia loss to Auburn this week or to Kentucky next week. The Gamecocks own a 4-0 record within the division. They are looking to sweep through the SEC East unscathed for the first time in school history.
A LITTLE HISTORY: 2011 marks the 118th season of intercollegiate football at the University of South Carolina, dating back to 1892. It is the 105th-consecutive year in which South Carolina has competed on the gridiron. The University did not field a team in either 1893 or 1906. Carolina owns an all-time record of 550-543-44. The 2011 season marks South Carolina's 20th year in the Southeastern Conference. The Gamecocks earned their first SEC Eastern Division title in the 2010 season.
THIS WEEK'S FOE: The Gamecocks host the Florida Gators (5-4, 3-4 SEC) in the final regular season SEC matchup of the year. The Gators won their first four contests of 2011 before dropping four straight games to ranked opponents (Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Georgia). They righted the ship last week with a 26-21 win over Vanderbilt. They are coached by Will Muschamp.
CAROLINA VS. FLORIDA: This is the 32nd meeting in a series that dates back to 1911. The Gators lead the all-time series, 23-5-3, including a 10-4-1 advantage in Columbia. South Carolina won for the first time ever in 13 tries in Gainesville, 36-14, last season with the SEC Eastern Division title on the line. Florida won in 2009 by a 24-14 count on its last trip to Columbia. South Carolina's last home win over Florida came in Coach Spurrier's first season at the helm, a 30-22 win in the 2005 campaign. The Gamecocks have not won back-to-back contests against the Gators since winning in 1936 and again in `39.
JEFFERY NEARING MARKS: Junior wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (170 receptions for 2,767 yards) needs just 14 yards to match Kenny McKinley (2,781) as the school's all-time leader in receiving yards. He passed Sterling Sharpe (169) for second all-time in career receptions when he caught his 170th career pass at Arkansas. He needs three touchdown catches to tie Sidney Rice on the school's all-time list for touchdown receptions at 23.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: Marcus Lattimore ran 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, 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.
THE LAST TIME IN COLUMBIA: Florida ran its record to 10-0 on the season en route to a National Championship with a 24-14 win over the Gamecocks in Columbia on Nov. 14, 2009. Down 17-14, South Carolina drove 48 yards to Florida's 22 to begin the fourth quarter, but defensive lineman Justin Trattou intercepted Stephen Garcia's pass and brought it back 53 yards. Tim Tebow cashed in the touchdown, putting Florida up by 10, and the Gator defense held Carolina in check the rest of the way, sacking Garcia four times in the final stanza.
THE HEAD BALL COACH: Steve Spurrier is in his seventh season directing the Gamecock football program. He has logged a 51-35 mark in Columbia. The Head Ball Coach ranks second on the school's all-time wins list with 51 behind only Rex Enright (64) and third in games coached with 86 behind Enright (140) and Paul Dietzel (96). Spurrier owns a 193-75-2 mark as a collegiate head coach, with stops at Duke and Florida before his stint at South Carolina. He is signed through the 2014 season..
SPURRIER VS. FLORIDA: Steve Spurrier owns a 2-4 record against his alma mater. The first time he was on the opposite 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. For a game-by-game listing, please refer to page 18.
FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING: This is the first time that Carolina will play Florida when the Gamecocks enter the contest as a ranked team and the Gators are unranked. In fact, it's only the second time since Carolina joined the SEC that they will face an unranked Florida team. Carolina was also the higher ranked team in 2010, the only previous time that has occurred. The Gamecocks are 15th in both major polls while the Gators are unranked.
REGULAR SEASON SUCCESS: Despite the loss at Arkansas last week, the Gamecocks have won 10 times in their last 12 regular season contests. Going back further, the Gamecocks have won 17 of their last 22 regular season games.
TAKE FIVE: The Gamecocks have posted five SEC wins for just the fifth time in school history. They finished the 2000, 2001, 2005 and 2010 seasons with 5-3 SEC records. They have never won six SEC games in a single season. The 2011 season marks the ninth time they will finish with at least a .500 record in SEC play (also 4-4 in 1994, 1996, 2004 and 2008).
LOOKING FOR THE SWEEP: The Gamecocks have a chance to post a perfect 5-0 mark against SEC Eastern Division rivals with a win over Florida. They have posted a 4-1 record within the division twice previously, both under Coach Spurrier, in 2005 and again last season.
GAMECOCKS IN THE SEC: The Gamecocks are wrapping up their 20th season of league play in the Southeastern Conference this week. This week's game mark's the 160th SEC regular season contest since joining the league. They have had significantly more success in the past five seasons than previously. Here's a breakdown of the four five-year segments in conference regular season action:
THE LAST TIME OUT: In a matchup of two Top-10 teams, the Gamecocks were unable to hang with the potent Arkansas aerial attack in a 44-28 Razorback win in Fayetteville last Saturday night. Tyler Wilson completed 20-of-37 passes for 299 yards and a pair of scores to lead the Hogs. Arkansas also got a 98-yard kickoff return for a score from Dennis Johnson. The Gamecocks put together three scoring drives that each consumed over four minutes on the clock, and got a 48-yard interception return for a score from Devin Taylor, but it wasn't enough as the Hogs doubled the Gamecocks in total yardage (435-207) and forced four turnovers.
STREAK SNAPPED: The Gamecocks had their school record six-game road winning streak snapped at Arkansas. They had the nation's fifth-longest winning streak prior to the setback last Saturday night. The Gamecocks finished the 2011 campaign with a 3-1 road record (wins at Georgia, Mississippi State and Tennessee, loss at Arkansas), their best road record since posting a 4-1 mark in the 2006 season (wins at Mississippi State, Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Clemson, loss at Florida).
GOOD HOME COOKIN': The Gamecocks have done a good job of protecting their home turf of late. The Gamecocks are 3-1 at home this season after posting a 6-1 home record in both 2009 and 2010. 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 17-3 in its last 20 home games.
SENIOR CLASS WINS: The win at Tennessee gave the Carolina senior class 30 wins (7 in 2008 and `09; 9 in `10 and 7 in `11), establishing a school record for wins in a four-year period.
YOU GO FIRST: The Gamecocks have surrendered the game's first points in all nine contests this season and in 12 straight games dating back to last year. They are 8-4 in those 12 contests despite being scored on first. The last time South Carolina scored first in a game was against Troy when they needed just 13 seconds to reach paydirt.
IN THE POLLS: The Gamecocks opened the 2011 season ranked 12th in both major polls. It's the highest Carolina had been ranked to start a season. Previously, they had been ranked six times in the preseason poll by the AP. They were No. 14 in 1959, No. 17 in both 1970 and 1985; 19th in 1988, 21st in 2001 and 22nd in 2002. The current stretch of consecutive weeks in the A.P. Top-25, dating back to the second week of the 2010 season, is a school record.
BCS STANDINGS: The Gamecocks are ranked 13th in the BCS Standings this week. After getting off to a 6-1 start, they came in 14th in the initial BCS Standings of 2011. They climbed to 13th the following week, then rose to No. 9 last week before losing at No. 7 Arkansas. The No. 9 ranking was the school's highest since they were 6-1 and ranked sixth in the BCS during the 2007 season.
WINNING MORE OFTEN: The Gamecocks have guaranteed themselves a fourth-straight winning season and a school-record eighth-straight season 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.
DEFENSE STEPS UP: Despite the 44-point outburst by Arkansas (aided by a kickoff return for a score and four turnovers which led to 10 points), the Gamecock defense has been solid of late. Carolina has allowed 102 points over its last seven contests, an average of 14.6 points per game, after allowing 79 points in the first two games. Their opponents' scoring average has dipped from 39.5 points per game after two games to 20.1 points per game. The Gamecocks are 24th in the country in scoring defense.
TOP-10 D: The Gamecocks have held three teams to under 200 yards of total offense this season (Vanderbilt-77, Kentucky-96 and Tennessee-186). South Carolina ranks ninth in the country in total defense. They are one of only a dozen schools that have allowed under 300 yards of offense per game this season.
NOT BY AIR: The Gamecock are third the country in pass defense (second in pass efficiency defense behind only Alabama), allowing just 154.0 yards per game through the air.
TURN IT OVER: The Gamecocks are tied with Arizona State for third in the nation in turnovers gained with 27, behind only Oklahoma State (31) and Rutgers (28). Carolina is first in the SEC and third in the country with 17 interceptions, and first in the SEC and tied for 18th in the country with 10 fumbles recovered.
PICK THIS: The Gamecocks have an SEC-leading 17 interceptions this season, including 13 over the last five games. Two have gone for "pick-sixes" with one from Antonio Allen at Georgia and one from Devin Taylor at Arkansas. The school record for interceptions in a season is 23, set three times: 1981, 1984 and 1987.
RECORD PACE: The Gamecocks have matched their best season under Coach Spurrier with 27 turnovers forced through nine games, an average of 3.0 per game. The previous high-water mark under Coach Spurrier was also 27 turnovers forced during the 2008 season. The school record for turnovers forced in a season is 39 (3.25 per game), set in the 12-game 1987 campaign.
WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS: The Carolina defense and special teams have been responsible for seven touchdowns this season. Defensive end Melvin Ingram has scored three times, a 68-yard run on a fake punt and a five-yard fumble return, both at Georgia, and a fumble recovery in the end zone against Vanderbilt; Spur Antonio Allen has scored twice, a 25-yard fumble return against ECU and a 25-yard interception return against Georgia; Ace Sanders scored on a 68-yard punt return against East Carolina and Devin Taylor scored on a 48-yard pass interception at Arkansas. The Gamecocks scored six defensive touchdowns all last season.
SACK ATTACK: South Carolina features one of the top sack tandem in the SEC in senior Melvin Ingram (5.5 sacks) and freshman Jadeveon Clowney (5.0 sacks), who rank tied for fourth and tied for sixth respectively, in the SEC in sacks. With sacks in back-to-back games, Devin Taylor is now 11th in the SEC with 4.0 sacks. With 17.0 career sacks, Ingram ranks fourth on Carolina's all-time list behind only Eric Norwood (29.0), Andrew Provence (26.0) and John Abraham (23.5).
POINT PRODUCTION: The Gamecocks are averaging 29.9 points per game with 269 points scored in nine contests. In 2010, they set the school record for points in a season when they tallied 433, an average of 30.9 points per game. The Gamecocks have been outscored 49-27 in the first stanza, but have outscored their opponents 86-51 in the second period, 83-27 in the third quarter and 73-54 in the fourth quarter.
PLAYING WITHOUT ONE OF THE BEST: The Gamecocks will be without standout sophomore running back Marcus Lattimore for the remainder of the season after he suffered a knee injury late in the game against Mississippi State. Lattimore finished his second campaign with 818 yards on 163 carries, an average of 5.0 yards per carry. He ranked among the SEC and national leaders in rushing at 116.9 yards per game, scoring at 9.4 points per game, and in all-purpose yards per game at 142.9.
HE WILL BE MISSED: After just two seasons, Marcus Lattimore has left his mark on the Gamecock record books. He ranks 14th in school history with 2,015 rushing yards, is tied for third with 27 rushing touchdowns and is third with 30 touchdowns scored. Lattimore had four 100-yard rushing games this season and eight in his career. He ranks in a tie for seventh on the South Carolina list for 100-yard rushing games in a career with Jay Lynn Hodgin and Clarence Williams. He was a third-team Phil Steele Midseason All-American and first-team All-SEC performer.
RUNNING WILDS: True freshman Brandon Wilds has taken over the running duties in Lattimore's absence. A 6-1, 223-pounder from Blythewood, S.C., Wilds began the fall camp listed as the fifth string tailback. Injuries to Marcus Lattimore (knee), Shon Carson (knee), Kenny Miles (wrist) and Eric Baker (ankle) vaulted Wilds to the top of the heap and he made his first career start at Tennessee. Used primarily as a special teams performer early in the season, Wilds had appeared in each of the first seven games, rushing 13 times for 75 yards, an average of 5.8 yards per carry. He had his coming out party in Knoxville against Tennessee, rushing 28 times for 137 yards, an average of 4.9 yards per carry, with a long of 24 yards. He also was the Gamecocks leading receiver with three catches for 31 yards. He was held in check at Arkansas with 10 carries for just 21 yards, but scored his first collegiate touchdown. He also was Carolina's leading receiver with four catches for 29 yards.
THE SHAW SHOW: Sophomore quarterback Connor Shaw is 4-1 as a starter this season, with victories over East Carolina, Kentucky, Mississippi State and Tennessee before a loss in his last start at Arkansas. He became just the third Gamecock quarterback since 1971 to start his career with four straight wins, joining Steve Taneyhill (1992) and Chris Smelley (2007). He was shaky in his debut against East Carolina, completing 3-of-9 passes for 21 yards and rushing seven times for 26 yards in one quarter of action. His second career start came against Kentucky and he responded with an SEC Offensive Player of the Week performance. The 6-1, 204-pounder from Flowery Branch, Ga., completed 26-of-39 passes for 311 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. The four touchdown passes was the most for a Gamecock quarterback since Blake Mitchell in 2006. he completed 20-of-28 passes for 155 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in his first road start at Mississippi State. He was 10-of-18 for 87 yards with one touchdown and one interception at Tennessee, but also rushed 16 times for 64 yards and a score. He completed 16-of-25 passes for 128 yards with an interception and ran for two scores at Arkansas before leaving the game with a concussion. For the season, Shaw is 76-of-121 (62.8 percent) for 710 yards with six touchdowns and four interceptions.
BROTHER ACT: South Carolina's Connor Shaw and Georgia Southern's Jaybo Shaw, make a rare pair of brothers that are starting quarterbacks on their respective college teams. Other recent quarterbacking brother acts in college football include the Mannings (Payton and Eli), Detmers (Ty and Koy), Hasselbecks (Matt and Tim), McCowns (Randy, Josh, and Luke), Huards (Damon, Luke and Brock), Vicks (Michael and Marcus), Glennons (Sean and Mike), Forciers (Jason, Chris and Tate) and Weatherfords (Drew and Joe).
TRENDING ALSHON: Biletnikoff candidate Alshon Jeffery has been held to modest numbers this season. The junior wideout leads the team with 36 catches for 487 yards, an average of 13.5 yards per catch. He is fifth in the SEC in receptions per game (4.0) and is eighth in receiving yards per game (54.1). He owns five of the 11 touchdown receptions this season. He has caught at least one pass in 32 straight games. Jeffery has vaulted past Sterling Sharpe (2,497) into second place on the all-time receiving yards list in South Carolina history with 2,767 yards, trailing only Kenny McKinley (2,781). He is tied with Sidney Rice for the most 100-yard receiving games in school history with 11.
BRUCE ALMIGHTY: Redshirt freshman wide receiver Bruce Ellington has made an impact on the gridiron after doing so on the hardwood last winter. A multiple threat, Ellington has returned 11 kickoffs for a 22.2 yard average. He has worked out of the "Wildcat" formation, rushing 13 times for 102 yards, an average of 7.8 yards per carry, including a 61-yard touchdown burst against Kentucky. He has completed 2-of-3 passes for 24 yards. As a wideout, he has caught 14 passes for 140 yards (10.0 per catch), including three for 60 yards against Auburn. The 5-9, 197-pounder from Moncks Corner, S.C. was the starting point guard for the Gamecocks' basketball team as a freshman. He earned a spot on the SEC All-Freshman team after leading the squad with a 12.8 points per game average. He started all 30 games for a squad that went 14-16. He is expected to rejoin the basketball team at the conclusion of the football season.
STARTS ON THE LINE: The Gamecocks used the same starting five along the offensive line in each of the four games this season. In game five versus Auburn, true freshman Mike Matulis made the start at left tackle for the injured Kyle Nunn (lower back). In each of the last four contests, redshirt freshman Cody Gibson has gotten the nod at right tackle with Rokevious Watkins moving to left tackle to replace Nunn. The O-line has combined for 115 starts. Center T.J. Johnson leads the way with 36, followed by Watkins (23) and sixth-year senior guard Terrence Campbell (22). Redshirt freshman guard A.J. Cann has started all nine games this season. Watkins is considered the best of the group by most, while Johnson is a Rimington candidate.
GOING BOTH WAYS: Junior Byron Jerideau made the switch from the defensive tackle position to the offensive guard spot prior to the Mississippi State game. In that contest, he played on both sides of the ball, a rare occurrence among Division I linemen. He is listed on the depth chart on both the offense and defense.
TAKING THE FIFTH (AND THE SIXTH): Linebacker Rodney Paulk and offensive guard Terrence Campbell were both granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA. Paulk earned second-team Freshman All-America honors from Sporting News as a freshman in 2006. He ranked fourth on the squad with 64 tackles during his sophomore season in 2007. Paulk injured his knee in August of 2008 and saw limited action in the first four games of that campaign before sitting out of the remainder of the season. He was granted his first medical redshirt following the season. In 2009, Paulk suffered a season-ending knee injury in the season-opening win at NC State, and was granted his second medical redshirt. He sat out the spring drills in 2010 while continuing his rehab work, and returned to the field in August. Paulk graduated in December with a degree in marine science. Campbell also came to Carolina in 2006, but suffered a season-ending knee injury early in his first camp and was granted a medical redshirt. He played in one game as a defensive lineman in 2007 before moving to the offensive side of the ball. He was a regular at right guard in 2008 then, after starting the first two games of the 2009 season, he suffered a neck/shoulder stinger that sidelined him for the remainder of the season and earned him a second medical redshirt season. He played sporadically in `10 but returns as a probable starter in 2011. Campbell earned his degree in retail in May. Paulk and Campbell are the second and third Gamecocks to have a sixth year of eligibility granted in the Spurrier Era, joining former tight end Andy Boyd.
BIG PLAY INGRAM: Senior defensive lineman Melvin Ingram is turning in an All-America season with big play after big play. In fact, he was named to Phil Steele's Midseason First-Team All-America squad and is a semifinalist for both the Lombardi and Bednarik awards. He is tied for fourth in the SEC in sacks with 5.5 and is tied for eighth in tackles for loss with 9.5.
ALLEN SPURS D: Senior Spur Antonio Allen is having a stellar season. A semifinalist for the Thorpe Award and a third-team Phil Steele Midseason All-American, he leads the team and is sixth in the SEC in tackles with 62 (7.8 per game). He is third in the SEC and is tied for 17th in the country with three forced fumbles, is tied for the SEC lead and tied for sixth in the nation with three fumble recoveries, and is eighth in the league with three interceptions. Allen had the best game of his career in the season opener against East Carolina. He logged a game-high 16 tackles, doubling his previous career high, and the most for a Gamecock since Jonathan Martin had 17 at LSU in 2002. He also forced two fumbles and recovered a pair, including a strip that he took 25 yards to paydirt. He came back with six tackles against Georgia and intercepted a pass, returning it 25 yards for a score. He led the team with 10 tackles in the win over Navy, was credited with a forced fumble and sealed the game with an interception in the final minute. He had four tackles and a fumble recovery in the win over Vanderbilt. He led the team with 13 tackles with 3.0 TFL and an interception against Auburn. He reached double-digits in tackles again at Mississippi State with 10. He did not play at Arkansas after suffering a sprained neck in practice.
SEND IN THE CLOWNEY: Freshman sensation Jadeveon Clowney was in the starting lineup against ECU, the first true freshman to start on the D-line at Carolina since Travian Robertson in 2007. Clowney finished the opener with seven tackles, a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry. At Georgia, he was credited with just two tackles, but both were sacks, the first two of his career, including one late in the game that forced a fumble that Melvin Ingram scooped and scored, sealing the win. He had three stops against Navy, including a half-tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry. He had a pair of sacks and forced two fumbles in the win over Vanderbilt. He forced another fumble on a sack at Mississippi State. For the season, he is tied for sixth in the SEC with 5.0 sacks (the only freshman in the top 20), is tied for 15th with 7.0 tackles for loss, and is second in the SEC and tied for seventh in the country with four fumbles forced.
IN THE SECONDARY: The Gamecocks feature a talented group in the secondary, led by All-SEC performer and third-team All-American Stephon Gilmore. Gilmore led the team in tackles a season ago with 79. He logged 10 tackles in the opener against East Carolina. He had four stops against Georgia, and also scooped up a fumble and rambled 56 yards, setting up a Carolina score. He had his first pick of the season against Vanderbilt, added a second against Kentucky and notched his third at Tennessee. D.J. Swearinger is the other awards candidate in the secondary. He is considered the hardest hitter in the defensive backfield and recorded 66 tackles last year. He is second on the team with 54 tackles and had a career-day at Mississippi State, logging a game- and career-high 12 tackles and sealed the win with an interception with just over a minute remaining, earning co-SEC Defensive Player of the Week accolades. He had another key interception in the win at Tennessee.
GILMORE DOES IT ALL: Gamecock cornerback Stephon Gilmore was one of only six players to earn first-team All-SEC honors by either the Associated Press or Coaches and also be named to the 2010 Fall Academic Honor Roll. The others were Alabama offensive guard Barrett Jones, Florida punter Chas Henry, Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy, Auburn center Ryan Pugh and Mississippi State offensive tackle Derek Sherrod.
DOUBLE DIGITS TACKLES: Antonio Allen (16) and Stephon Gilmore (10) were both credited with double digits in tackles against East Carolina. Allen logged another 10 in the win over Navy, and three players (Allen -13, Reginald Bowens-11 and Melvin Ingram-11) all eclipsed the double figure total against Auburn. Both D.J. Swearinger (12) and Allen (10) reached double figures at Mississippi State. No Gamecock had 10 or more tackles in a game during the 2010 season.
COMING UP ACES: Ace Sanders returned just one punt against East Carolina, but it paid big dividends, as he scooted 68 yards for a score. It was the first kickoff or punt return for a touchdown during the Steve Spurrier Era, and was a nice way for new special teams coach John Butler to get started. Sanders became the first Gamecock to return a punt for a TD since Chavez Donnings went 73 yards against Florida in 2003.
HARD TO BELIEVE BUT...: Ace Sanders' 68-yard punt return against ECU gave the Gamecocks three more yards in punt returns than they had during the entire 14-game season of 2010. Last year Sanders, Stephon Gilmore and the "Team" combined on 19 punt returns for just 65 yards.
MISSING YOU: The Gamecocks are playing without four starters from when fall camp began: TB Marcus Lattimore (knee), offensive tackle Kyle Nunn (back), cornerback Akeem Auguste (foot) and quarterback Stephen Garcia (dismissed).
WOOTEN WOWS `EM: Senior Jay Wooten has been solid this season, hitting on 35-of-37 of his extra point attempts and nailing four of his six fields goal attempts - the difference in two games - with a 49-yarder at Georgia and a 48-yarder versus Navy. Oddly, all six attempts have come between 40 and 49 yards out. The senior from Laurinburg, N.C., has previous experience, as he kicked for North Carolina during the 2008 season, going 4-for-6 in field attempts and was successful on all 11 extra point tries.
GOOD FROM AFAR: The Gamecocks have been in the redzone 28 times this season and have come away with 21 touchdowns, but no field goals. They have not even attempted a field goal when penetrating the red zone. In fact, South Carolina is the only team in the country to not have a field goal attempt of under 40 yards this season.
THE PUNTER: Joey Scribner-Howard, a senior from Irmo who gained experience kicking for Carson-Newman in 2007 and `08 and as a kickoff specialist for Carolina in 2010, won the punting duties in fall camp. He ranks ninth in the SEC with a 39.3 yards per punt average, but he has six kicks of over 50 yards, including a career-long 60-yarder at Mississippi State.
FIRST ACTION: Twelve true freshmen have seen action for South Carolina this season. That list included Rory Anderson, Damiere Byrd, Shon Carson, Jadeveon Clowney, Kyle Harris, Kadetrix Marcus, Mike Matulis, Kelcy Quarles, Kenny Robinson, Brandon Shell, Brandon Wilds and Brison Williams.
DID YOU KNOW: South Carolina has played each of the last five defending National Champions? The Gamecocks played Florida (2007 and `09), LSU (2008), Alabama (2010) and Auburn (2011) in the year following their national title. The Gamecocks went 1-4 in those contests, with their lone win coming against Alabama.
RECRUITING SUCCESS: The Gamecocks are coming off another successful February signing day. They inked defensive end Jadeveon Clowney from South Pointe High School in South Carolina, who many consider the nation's number 1 prospect. Overall, the Gamecocks signed 32 players to National Letters of Intent, including four who count against last year's list. The Gamecocks have put together seven consecutive classes that rank among the nation's top 25, according to Rivals.com.
IN THE CLASSROOM: The Gamecocks have been impressive in the classroom of late. The squad placed 31 players on the 2010 SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll while posting a team GPA of 2.779, the program's highest GPA on record. They followed that up with a spring GPA of 2.711. Those who made the SEC Honor Roll include returnees Jacob Baker, Jason Barnes, Payton Brady, Billy Byrne, Andrew Clifford, Stephon Gilmore, Walker Inabinet, Damario Jeffery, T.J. Johnson, Rodney Paulk, Travian Robertson, Seth Strickland, Dalton Wilson, Jay Wooten and Adam Yates.
DONNING THE CAP AND GOWN: Four Gamecocks have received their degrees from the University. Those who have their diplomas in hand include Terrence Campbell (retail), Byron McKnight (criminal justice), Rodney Paulk (marine science) and Travian Robertson (criminal justice).
WORKING OVERTIME: The Gamecocks have played just two overtime games in their history, both at Tennessee. They dropped a 23-20 decision in Knoxville on Sept. 27, 2003, then fell by a 27-24 score on Oct. 27, 2007, at Neyland Stadium. Every other SEC team has played at least four overtime games since the rule was established in 1996.
THEY PAY TO SEE THE GAMECOCKS PLAY: The Gamecocks are averaging 78,357 through four home games of the 2011 season, which ranks 16th in the country. The Florida and Clemson games have already been declared sellouts.
UP NEXT: The Gamecocks will play their annual in-state FCS opponent when The Citadel Bulldogs come to Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 12. Game time is set for high noon. Carolina leads the all-time series, 39-7-3, including a 13-4 mark at home. The teams have met just once since 1985, a 38-35 Citadel win in the 1990 season. The Gamecocks have won nine of the last 10 and 24 of the last 26 contests between the two schools.
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