Nov. 17, 2017
Football vs Wofford
YOU ARE LOOKING LIVE: It’s Senior Day and Military Appreciation Day as the South Carolina Gamecocks (7-3, 5-3 SEC) host the FCS playoff-bound Wofford Terriers (9-1, 7-1 SoCon) on Saturday, November 18. Game time is set for 4 pm for this Palmetto State showdown, which will be televised from Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250) in Columbia on SEC Network Alternate.
IN THE BOOTH: Mike Morgan returns to Columbia to serve as the play-by-play voice for SEC Network with Barrett Jones providing the analysis.
GOING FOR WIN NUMBER 600: The University of South Carolina laced it up for the first time on Dec. 24, 1892 in Charleston against Furman, a 44-0 loss. After dropping its first three games, Carolina got into the win column for the first time on Nov. 8, 1895 with a 14-10 victory over Columbia AA. Now, 125 years later, the Gamecocks are vying for their 600th win in school history. Carolina owns an all-time record of 599-572-44, a .511 winning percentage. This is the 124th season of intercollegiate football at South Carolina and the 111th-consecutive year in which it has competed on the gridiron. The University did not field a team in either 1893 or 1906.
SEC, SEC: The Gamecocks are in their 26th year in the Southeastern Conference. South Carolina and Arkansas joined the league prior to the 1992 campaign. The Gamecocks earned their lone SEC Eastern Division title in 2010. The Gamecocks are 90-117-1 (.435) all-time in SEC regular-season play, but are 35-29 (.547) in conference action since the start of the 2010 season.
GAMECOCKS VS. TERRIERS: This is the 24th meeting between these two Palmetto-state schools. Carolina has won the last 16 contests to take a 19-4 all-time lead in the series. The teams have met just four times, all in Columbia, since the 1957 season, with the Gamecocks winning by a 38-14 count in 2001, by a 27-20 margin in 2006, by a 23-13 score in 2008 and by a 24-7 measure in 2012. Wofford’s last win over South Carolina came almost exactly 100 years ago, on Nov. 17, 1917, by a 20-0 score, which also marks Carolina’s last trip to Spartanburg. The Terriers other three wins came either before or at the turn of the 20th century - 1895, 1896 and 1901, with their last win in Columbia coming by a 6-4 count in 1896.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: Senior running back Kenny Miles rushed for a career-high 127 yards and one touchdown to help lead No. 12/11 South Carolina to a 24-7 victory over Wofford on November 17, 2012. The victory gave head coach Steve Spurrier his 64th career victory at South Carolina, tying Rex Enright’s school record. Junior quarterback Connor Shaw completed 16-of-20 passes for 122 yards and had one touchdown and one interception. The Gamecock defense gave up 330 yards of offense to the Terriers but came up with several big stops and forced three turnovers to help pull away for the victory. Senior D.J. Swearinger led the way with 12 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Seniors Shaq Wilson and Byron Jerideau tallied 10 tackles apiece, while senior Akeem Auguste recovered a fumble and returned it 31 yards for a touchdown. The game was knotted at 7 heading into the final stanza before the Gamecocks scored the final 17 points to pull away for a hard-fought win. Wofford threw just three passes, completing one.
DON’T BLAME THE DEFENSE: The losing team in this series generally can’t blame its defense on the setback, because its offensive performance was abysmal. In the 23 previous contests, the losing team has scored as many as 20 points just once (a 27-20 South Carolina win in the 2006 game), while being blanked a dozen times. The losing team has been held to a touchdown or less in 18 of the previous 23 games.
TERRIER TIES: Wofford wide receivers coach Freddie Brown is a 2009 graduate of South Carolina. He was a three-year letterwinner for the Gamecocks from 2006-08. Terrier outside linebackers coach Jon Wheeler, a native of Columbia, was a graduate assistant on the football staff at South Carolina while working towards a Master’s degree, which he earned in 2010.
IN-STATE FCS FOES: When the regular season was expanded to 12 games in 2006, the Gamecocks hosted an in-state FCS opponent for 10-straight years, posting a 9-1 record in that span. They defeated Wofford (2006, 2008, 2012), South Carolina State (2007, 2009), Furman (2010, 2014), The Citadel (2011) and Coastal Carolina (2013). The Citadel upset the Gamecocks by a 23-22 score in 2015.
IT’S RARELY CLOSE: The Gamecocks generally have had little trouble in disposing of their FCS opponents. In the 11 games played since 2006 (including a 2016 match with Western Carolina), South Carolina has outscored its FCS opponent by a combined score of 406-170, or an average score of 37-15.
GIVE ME FIVE: South Carolina has won five or more conference games for just the eighth time in 26 seasons since joining the SEC. South Carolina tallied a school-record six SEC wins for three-consecutive years from 2011-13, and also won five conference games in 2000, 2001, 2005, and 2010.
ORANGE CRUSHED: South Carolina defeated Tennessee and Florida, two of the big three SEC East rivals, in the same season for just the fourth time. It also occurred in 2005, 2010 and 2011.
SENIOR SALUTE: The following 12 players will be participating in Senior Day activities: Cory Helms, Hayden Hurst, Ulric Jones, JaMarcus King, Alan Knott, Chris Lammons, Skai Moore, D.J. Park, Dante Sawyer, Demetrius Smalls, D.J. Smith and Taylor Stallworth.
THEY’RE NOT SEC WORTHY: South Carolina is 26-5 in its last 31 non-conference games, including a 2-0 mark this season, with wins over NC State and Louisiana Tech. The Gamecocks had their 18-game non-conference winning streak snapped in the 2014 regular season finale at Clemson, then lost their final two games in both 2015 and 2016.
PROTECT THIS HOUSE: South Carolina has won 26 of its last 28 home games against non-conference foes. The Gamecocks had won 22-straight home games against non-conference opponents before dropping the final two games of the 2015 regular season to in-state rivals The Citadel and Clemson. Prior to that, the last home loss to a non-SEC team was to Clemson in the 2007 regular-season finale.
THE POWER OF FIVE: Since the turn of the century, the Gamecocks have a 41-3 mark against teams not currently in the Power 5 conference (SEC, ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12). The only three losses in that stretch came to UConn in the 2010 Papajohns.com Bowl, to The Citadel in 2015 and to South Florida in the 2016 Birmingham Bowl. It should be noted that UConn was in the Big East, which was a BCS automatic qualifier during the 2009 season.
FIVE UNDER 30: South Carolina is one of just five Division I-A schools that has not allowed a 30-point game this season. The others: Alabama, Auburn, Troy and Wisconsin.
UNDER PRESSURE: The Gamecocks were able to put consistent pressure on the Florida quarterbacks. Carolina produced four sacks in the contest and was credited with nine quarterback hurries. In addition, the Gamecocks logged a half-dozen pass breakups in the 28-20 win.
HEY TURN ME OVER: South Carolina leads the SEC with 18 turnovers forced (10 fumbles and 8 interceptions). The Gamecocks are plus-6 in turnover margin, tied for second in the SEC and tied for 21st in the country.
TURNOVERS LEAD TO POINTS: The Gamecocks are not only winning the turnover battle, but converting those turnovers into points. Carolina has tallied 62 points off their 18 turnovers, while allowing just six points following their 12 turnovers.
IF YOU’RE SCORING AT HOME: The Gamecocks are allowing just 20.6 points per game this season, 27th in the country. If that number holds up, it would be their best mark since the 2012 squad allowed just 18.2 points, and would mark the fourth-straight year in which Carolina has shown improvement, going from 30.4 points per game in 2014, to 27.5 in 2015 to 26.5 last season.
BETTER THAN AVERAGE: The Gamecock defense has been better than advertised this season, holding nine of 10 opponents to fewer points than their season average, with four teams being held at least 10 points below their season mark.
RALLY ROUND THE FLAG: The Gamecocks are one of the least penalized teams in college football. Carolina has been flagged for just 43 penalties, an average of 4.3 per game, which ranks second in the SEC and 11th in the nation. Carolina’s penalties have totaled 319 yards or 31.9 yards per contest, the fewest in the SEC and the third-fewest in the country behind only Boston College (29.1) and Minnesota (31.2).
ONCE, TWICE, THREE TIMES A TD: The Gamecocks set a school record with three defensive touchdowns in the win over Arkansas. Skai Moore returned an interception 34 yards, T.J. Brunson returned a fumble 73 yards, then Keisean Nixon returned an interception 45 yards for a score. It was Carolina’s first game with multiple defensive scores since September 10, 2011 at Georgia, when Antonio Allen had a pick-six and Melvin Ingram scored on a fumble recovery. The three defensive scores were one shy of the NCAA Division I record of four, accomplished four times. Carolina has scored five non-offensive TDs, three on defense and two on special teams.
POINTS FROM ELSEWHERE: The Gamecocks have scored five non-offensive touchdowns this season, two on kickoff returns, two interception returns and one fumble return. That is one shy of the school record of six non-offensive touchdowns, accomplished four times since 1970: 1971, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
LINE DANCE: Due to right ankle injuries to Zack Bailey, Cory Helms and Malik Young, offensive line coach Eric Wolford has had to piece together several different starting units. Nine players have started on the offensive line this season. The Gamecocks have used six different offensive line combinations, including four different starters at right tackle. The lone constant has been senior Alan Knott at center, who earned SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week accolades against Vanderbilt, although Donell Stanley has started every game, seven at left guard and three at right guard. The good news is that the same quintet has started in each of the last three games.
MISSING IN ACTION: After having 19 of the 22 starters answer the bell in each of the first three games, injuries struck Carolina. In addition to the issues on the offensive line, starting wide receiver/kick returner Deebo Samuel (fractured leg vs. Kentucky), starting Buck Bryson Allen-Williams (shoulder vs. Kentucky), starting running back Rico Dowdle (fractured leg vs. Tennessee) and tight ends K.C. Crosby (fractured leg vs. Arkansas) and Kyle Markway (ribs vs. Missouri) will miss the remainder of the regular season after undergoing surgery.
MY QUARTERBACK IS A BENTLEY: Sophomore quarterback Jake Bentley (6-3, 220) is hitting on 61.6 percent of his passes this season (188-for-305) for 2,235 yards with 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He completed a career-best 16-consecutive passes earlier this season against Kentucky, four shy of the school record of 20, set by Connor Shaw, and had a stretch where he went 152 consecutive passes without an interception. He ranks third in the SEC in passing yards per game (223.5) and seventh in total offense (230.1). Bentley, who is 11-6 in 17 career starts, has thrown for over 300 yards twice in his career.
FAMILY AFFAIR: Quarterback Jake Bentley comes from a football family. His father, Bobby, is the Gamecocks’ running backs coach and previously was a highly-successful coach at Byrnes (S.C.) High and at Presbyterian College. Jake’s step-brother, Chas Dodd (Rutgers), and brother, Shuler Bentley (Old Dominion/Murray State), both have played quarterback in college. Chas is on the Carolina staff as a GA in the weight room.
MORE ON JAKE: Quarterback Jake Bentley shared 2016 MVP honors with Deebo Samuel, despite playing in just seven contests. He set the school record for bowl games and Birmingham Bowl records for passes completed (32), yards passing (390) and total offense (381) while throwing three TD passes against USF in 2016. Bentley has thrown for 3,655 career yards, becoming the 14th player in school history to throw for 3,000 yards.
A.J. TURNS UP: After rushing just 20 times for 60 yards through the first six games, redshirt sophomore A.J. Turner (5-10, 184) has picked up the load in Rico Dowdle’s absence. Over the last four games, Turner has carried 59 times for 378 yards, a 6.4-yard average. He had a career-best 121-yard effort on just 15 carries against Vanderbilt, the first 100-yard rushing game for a Gamecock this season, then topped that with a career-high 22-carry, 136-yard effort against Florida. Turner has taken over the team lead in rushing with 79 carries for 438 yards, a 5.5-yard average, and two touchdowns. He logged 497 yards and three scores on 116 carries last season, including a 113-yard effort against Texas A&M. He needs 65 yards to become the 43rd 1,000-yard rusher in school history and owns three 100-yard rushing games.
MON THE MAN: Redshirt sophomore Mon Denson has taken advantage of his recent opportunities. After not seeing any game action in his first two years on campus and not getting a carry in the first five games this season, Denson, a 5-10, 209-pounder from LaGrange, Ga., has shown a burst of late. He turned in his best performance against Florida, rushing a career-high 13 times for a career-high 61 yards, with his first two TDs.
MISSING DEEBO: Deebo Samuel did it all for the Gamecocks through the season’s first three games before suffering a broken bone in his leg against Kentucky. In the opener against NC State, he returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a score, and caught five passes for 83 yards including a pair of scores, finishing the day with 185 all-purpose yards. At Missouri, he returned another kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, scored on a 25-yard rush and caught five passes for 45 yards, accumulating 167 all-purpose yards. He was named SEC Special Teams Player of the Week after both the NC State and Missouri contests. Samuel hauled in five passes for 122 yards, including a 68-yard scoring strike on the game’s first play from scrimmage against Kentucky, before suffering the injury. Samuel’s six touchdowns in the season’s first three games still leads the team after 10 games.
MOVIN’ ON UP: Bryan Edwards played an excellent second fiddle to Deebo Samuel, but has now moved into the first chair in Samuel’s absence. Edwards has caught at least three passes in eight of 10 games this season, totaling 45 catches for 545 yards and two scores. He ranks sixth in the SEC in receptions per game (4.5) and is 11th in receiving yards per game (54.5). His best effort is a six-catch, 122-yard performance against Louisiana Tech. The 6-3, 215-pounder from Conway, S.C., has 89 career receptions for 1,135 yards. He has caught at least one pass in all 22 games in which he has appeared.
HE’S SHI, BUT EFFECTIVE: Shi Smith has also stepped up in the absence of Deebo Samuel. The true freshman had his best game as a Gamecock at Texas A&M, catching three passes for a team-high 86 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown pass for his first career score. He had a season-high five receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown against Vanderbilt. For the season, Shi has hauled in 23 passes for 320 yards and two touchdowns.
THE OTHER SMITH: True freshman wide receiver OrTre Smith continues to produce as well. The 6-4, 219-pounder has 23 catches for 284 yards and three touchdowns. He has caught at least three passes in each of the last six games, including a career-best five-catch, 60-yard performance against Florida.
DIAMONDS AREN’T FOREVER: Hayden Hurst played professional baseball in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ organization after being selected in the 17th round of the 2012 draft. Now a 6-5, 253-pound junior, the 24-year-old Hurst turned in the school’s best single-season receiving numbers for a tight end in 2016. His 48 receptions and 616 receiving yards topped the previous marks of 38 catches, set by Doug Hamrick in 1970, and 576 yards, set by Danny Smith in 1987. He also was selected a permanent team captain in 2016, becoming the first sophomore in school history to earn that distinction. Hurst was a 2017 first-team mid-season All-SEC selection by The Athletic and is one of 10 semifinalists for the Burlsworth Trophy, given to the nation’s top walk-on.
FROM HURST TO FIRST: Hayden Hurst had his best game at Georgia, catching seven passes for a career-high 93 yards, earning John Mackey Tight End of the Week accolades, and has a dozen receptions in the last two games. He also logged back-to-back 76-yard receiving games earlier this season, catching six passes at Texas A&M and a career-long 62-yard touchdown versus Arkansas. He became the school’s all-time leader in career receptions by a tight end in the win over Vanderbilt, passing Danny Smith’s mark of 78, which stood for 30 years. He ranks second in career yards receiving by a tight end with 1,202.
GETTING IN THE SACK: The Gamecocks have recorded 22 sacks in 10 games this season, one more than they notched in 13 games during the 2016 campaign, with seven coming at Tennessee, the most in a game since 2012. D.J. Wonnum leads the way with 6.0, tying for ninth in the SEC. Here are the individual numbers:
WONNUM RECOGNIZED TWICE: Sophomore Dennis “D.J.” Wonnum, has been selected as the SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week twice this season. In the win over Arkansas, he was credited with four solo tackles, including a tackle for loss, broke up two passes and had a quarterback hurry. He led a Carolina defensive line that limited the Razorbacks to just 106 yards rushing on 32 carries. At Tennessee, he logged six tackles, all solo stops, including a pair of sacks for a dozen yards. The Carolina defense held the Vols to just 253 yards of total offense, including just 120 yards after the first quarter. Wonnum is tied for second in the SEC with 11.0 tackles for loss and is tied for ninth in the SEC with 6.0 sacks.
SKAI SOARS: Skai Moore is back after missing the entire 2016 season following surgery to address a herniated disk in his neck. The 6-2, 221-pound linebacker 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 were 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. He is tied for the team lead and tied for 16th in the SEC with 68 tackles, an average of 6.8 tackles per game.
A BAKER’S DOZEN: Skai Moore has a pair of interceptions this season, getting one against Kentucky, then returning another 34 yards for a score in the win over Arkansas. He has logged 13 career picks, which ranks second on the school’s all-time list, one behind Bo Davies’ school record of 14.
THE BRUNSON BURNER: Sophomore T.J. Brunson is tied with Skai Moore and ranks in a tie for 16th in the SEC with 68 stops, or 6.8 tackles per game. Brunson made his first start as a Gamecock memorable. The 6-1, 230-pound linebacker from Columbia, S.C. posted a game- and career-high 16 tackles in the win over NC State. It was the most tackles in a game for a Gamecock since Antonio Allen logged 16 stops against ECU on Sept. 3, 2011, a game that was also played in Charlotte. He also has logged double-digits in tackles against Kentucky with a dozen. Brunson logged just 12 tackles during the 2016 season.
ALL THE WHITE STUFF: True freshman Parker White, who also handles the kickoffs, is trying to fill the big shoes of Elliott Fry, the school’s all-time leading scorer. White is 15-for-15 on PATs and 10-for-20 in the field goal department, but is a solid 8-for-9 inside 40 yards. His first career made field goal was a 31-yard game-winner in the final seconds against Louisiana Tech. 38 of his 50 kickoffs have been touchbacks.
THIS IS CHARLTON YOUR PUNTER: Redshirt sophomore Joseph Charlton, has averaged 43.1 yards over his 39 punts, with 11 measuring over 50 yards, including a career-long 73-yarder at Missouri, the longest punt by a Gamecock since Marty Simpson had a 79-yard punt in 1992. He also has nine punts inside the 20 with just one touchback. The Gamecocks are averaging 40.7 net yards per punt, 19th in the country.
THE RETURNS ARE IN: Rashad Fenton has enough kick returns to qualify as the school’s all-time record-holder for kick return average at 25.6 yards, surpassing Kent Hagood (24.7 from 1981-85). Fenton has 588 yards on 23 returns while Hagood logged 519 yards on 21 returns.
WHEN WE WERE YOUNG: The breakdown of the Gamecocks’ 109-man roster features 12 seniors, 21 juniors, 30 sophomores, 16 redshirt freshmen and 30 true freshmen. 70 percent (76 of 109) of the Carolina roster is composed of freshmen and sophomores.
FRESH FISH: South Carolina has played eight true freshmen. Those newcomers include Sherrod Greene, Brad Johnson, OrTre Smith, Shi Smith, Damani Staley, Aaron Sterling, Chad Terrell and Jamyest Williams. Greene, OrTre Smith, Shi Smith and Williams have started.
WINNER, WINNER: The Gamecocks face a dozen opponents that combined to win 61.6 percent of its games last season, going 98-61 overall. That ranked as the fourth-highest opponent winning percentage among FBS teams. The opponents have not disappointed, logging a .597 winning percentage (71-48) thus far in 2017.
THEY PAY TO SEE THEM PLAY: South Carolina is averaging 78,490 fans at Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250) through five home games, 15th in the nation.
TOTING THE SHEEPSKIN: The Gamecocks have four student-athletes who have earned their undergraduate degree. The quartet includes Ulric Jones (interdisciplinary studies), Skai Moore (interdisciplinary studies), D.J. Park (criminal justice) and Dante Sawyer (interdisciplinary studies).
WORKING OVERTIME: The Gamecocks are 2-3 all-time in games decided in overtime. They won their first overtime game at Missouri, 27-24, in two overtimes on Oct. 26, 2013 in Columbia, Mo., and won in “The Swamp” over Florida by a 23-20 count in 2014. All three overtime losses have come against Tennessee by a field goal: a 23-20 setback on Sept. 27, 2003 in Knoxville, and a 27-24 loss in Knoxville on Oct. 27, 2007 and a 45-42 loss in Columbia on Nov. 1, 2014.
UP NEXT: The Gamecocks wrap up the 2017 regular season next week when they host Clemson in the annual Palmetto Bowl on Saturday, November 25. The Tigers lead the all-time series by a 68-42-4 count, including a 50-32-3 advantage when they play in Columbia. Carolina has won five of the last eight meetings in the series.
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