Nov. 20, 2015
The South Carolina Gamecocks (3-7, 1-7 SEC) will host in-state FCS rival Citadel (7-3, 6-1 SoCon) in a non-conference battle at Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250) in Columbia on Saturday, November 21. Game time is set for noon ET and the game will be televised on the SEC Network Alternate channel.
A HISTORY LESSON: 2015 marks the 122nd season of intercollegiate football at the University of South Carolina, dating back to 1892. It is the 109th-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 26 games over the .500 mark with an all-time record of 586-560-44. The Gamecocks were 10 games under .500 through the 2003 season, but are 36 games over .500 since the start of the `04 campaign.
SEC, SEC: South Carolina is in its 24th year of football in the Southeastern Conference. Carolina and Arkansas joined the league prior to the 1992 campaign. The Gamecocks earned their first SEC Eastern Division title in the 2010 season. Carolina was 37-66-1 (.361) in SEC action from 1992-2004, but is 45-43 (.511) in conference play since that time, including a 22-18 mark (.550) since the start of the 2011 season.
CAROLINA VS. THE CITADEL: This is the 51st meeting between these two Palmetto State schools. South Carolina holds a commanding 40-7-3 advantage in the series, including a 14-4 mark in Columbia. They also hold a 9-2-1 lead when playing in Charleston and a 17-1-2 edge when the game has been played at a neutral site. The teams met every year from 1907 until 1937, and 11 more times from 1940 to 1954, but got together just twice in the `60s and three times in the `80s. This is the second matchup between the two schools since the turn of the century. The Gamecocks posted a 41-20 win on Nov. 19, 2011 in the last encounter. The Gamecocks have won 10 of the last 11 and 25 of the last 27 matchups dating back to 1929.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: The Gamecock offense was efficient all day, scoring touchdowns on six of seven possessions in a 41-20 win over The Citadel on Nov. 19, 2011 at Williams-Brice Stadium. Led by quarterback Connor Shaw, the Gamecocks rolled up 473 yards of offense on just 55 plays. Shaw was 16-of-18 for 217 yards and three touchdowns and also rushed 11 times for 90 yards and another score to lead the 14th-ranked Gamecocks to their ninth win in 11 games. Freshman Brandon Wilds logged 109 yards and two scores on 20 carries.
SANDS CONNECTION: Gamecocks running backs coach Everette Sands has deep ties to The Citadel. Sands earned a bachelor's degree in computer science from The Citadel in 1993. He earned four letters as a running back for the Bulldogs, collecting All-Southern Conference honors in all four seasons. He ranks second all-time in school history with 3,926 rushing yards, and fourth with 204 points and 34 touchdowns. He garnered All-America accolades as a junior when he led The Citadel to a conference title and number one final ranking with 1,449 yards and 12 touchdowns. He served as a team captain in 1993 and was inducted into The Citadel Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004. He also logged two stints as an assistant coach at The Citadel, first from 1999-2000, and again from 2005-10.
FAMILY TIES: Gamecock quarterback Perry Orth has a brother, Calvin, who was a corner infielder on The Citadel baseball team from 2011-2014. Their parents are Rusty and Anna Orth. Rusty played football at West Virginia.
ELLIOTT IN CHARGE: The Gamecocks are 1-3 under the direction of interim head coach Shawn Elliott. Elliott, a 1996 graduate of Appalachian State and a Camden, S.C. native, was promoted to his current position by Athletics Director Ray Tanner on October 13, following the resignation of Steve Spurrier. Elliott is in his sixth season at South Carolina and served as the offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator before his promotion. Prior to coming to Columbia, Elliott coached at Appalachian State, where he helped the Mountaineers to three-straight national championships (2005-07).
THE HBC WAS THE BEST: Steve Spurrier finished his Carolina career with a record of 86-49 from 2005-2015 and accumulated an all-time record of 228-89-2 as a college head coach. He ended his career as the winningest coach at both Florida and South Carolina and was the second-winning coach in SEC history behind the legendary Paul "Bear" Bryant.
NON-CONFERENCE WINS: South Carolina has won 21 of its last 22 non-conference games. The Gamecocks had their 18-game non-conference winning streak snapped in the 2014 regular season finale at Clemson. Prior to that loss, Carolina's last non-conference loss came to Florida State in the 2010 Chick-fil-A Bowl. In non-conference play this season, the Gamecocks have defeated North Carolina in Charlotte in the season opener and posted a mid-season win over UCF. Next week, the Gamecocks will wrap up the 2015 season with another non-conference matchup against Clemson.
NON-CON WINS AT HOME: South Carolina has won 22-straight home games against non-conference opponents. It's last home loss to a non-conference team was to Clemson in the 2007 regular-season finale.
IN-STATE FCS FOES: Since the regular season was expanded to 12 games in 2006, Carolina has hosted an in-state FCS opponent every year. They are 9-0 in those games, defeating Wofford (2006, 2008, 2012), South Carolina State (2007, 2009), Furman (2010, 2014), The Citadel (2011) and Coastal Carolina (2013).
IT'S RARELY THAT CLOSE: The Gamecocks have taken care of business since the FCS opponent came on the schedule regularly in 2006. Wofford gave Carolina the biggest scare, falling 27-20 in 2006, but in the nine games overall, South Carolina has outscored its FCS opponent by a combined score of 340-166, or an average score of 38-13.
THE POWER OF FIVE: Since the turn of the century, the Gamecocks have a 37-1 mark against teams not currently in the Power 5 conference (SEC, ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12). The only loss in that stretch came to UConn in the 2010 Papajohns.com Bowl. It should be noted that UConn was in the Big East, which a BCS automatic qualifier that season.
THE LAST TIME OUT: The Gamecocks hosted SEC Eastern Division champion Florida last Saturday afternoon in Columbia and came out on the short end of a 24-14 decision. The Gator defense dominated much of the game, holding Carolina to just 44 yards of offense through the first three quarters while building a 17-0 advantage. The Gamecock offense came alive in the fourth quarter, scoring on a pair of touchdown passes, but Kelvin Taylor broke a 53-yard run late in the contest, setting up another Gator score and sealing the victory.
YOU WASH MY BACK...: The Gamecocks scored a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes against Florida, using the combination of Perry Orth and Pharoh Cooper. First, Cooper found Orth on a 17-yard throwback pass, then Orth returned the favor with a 38-yard scoring strike to Cooper.
IT AIN'T OVER `TIL IT'S OVER: The Gamecocks went into the locker room at Texas A&M tied at the half. It was the only time this season they have not trailed heading into intermission. The last time Carolina led going into the locker room after 30 minutes was in the 2014 Duck Commander Independence Bowl when the Gamecocks held a 17-6 advantage over Miami (Fla.).
NEED TO WIN THE TURNOVER BATTLE: The Gamecocks are 3-1 when they have won the turnover battle, with their only setback coming at Tennessee when having fewer turnovers. They are 0-3 when even in turnovers and 0-3 when committing more turnovers. For the season, they are plus-3 (17 gained, 14 lost). They forced a season-high five turnovers against Vanderbilt.
HOME SWEET HOME: The Gamecocks are 24-5 in their last 29 home games (.828) and 40-8 (.833) in their last 48 home games. Carolina had its school-record 18-game home winning streak snapped in the 2014 season opener. The school's previous longest home winning streak was 15 games, set from 1978-80.
HOME CROWD ADVANTAGE: The Gamecocks have played in front of 13 sellouts in their last 18 home contests. The Gamecocks ranked 16th in the nation in home attendance in 2014 with an average of 81,381 per game. Three of 2014's home crowds figured in the top-30 all-time at Williams-Brice Stadium. This season South Carolina is averaging 78,571 fans, 16th in the nation.
EVERY TIME OUT: The Gamecocks have had nine players start every game this season, including Pharoh Cooper, Brandon Shell, Mike Matulis, Will Sport and Mason Zandi on offense, and Gerald Dixon Jr., Marquavius Lewis, Skai Moore and Isaiah Johnson on defense.
FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME: Seventeen Gamecocks have made their first career starts this season. Carlton Heard, Marquavius Lewis, Connor Mitch, Deebo Samuel and Taylor Stallworth did so in the season-opening win over North Carolina. Larenz Bryant earned the start for the first time in his career against Kentucky. Terry Googer and Perry Orth made their first career starts at Georgia. Those who earned their first start against UCF were Jacob August, Zack Bailey, D.J. Neal, Lorenzo Nuñez and Dante Sawyer. Matrick Belton made his first start at Missouri and David Williams got the start at LSU. Boosie Whitlow got the start versus Vanderbilt and Hayden Hurst made his first start vs. Florida.
STABILITY UP FRONT...: Carolina has had stability in the offensive line, running out the same starter in every game at four of the five spots. LT Brandon Shell, LG Mike Matulis, RG Will Sport and RT Mason Zandi have answered the bell in each tilt. Alan Knott (7) and Zack Bailey (3) have split the starting assignments at center.
..BUT FLUIDITY ELSEWHERE: The Gamecocks have started three quarterbacks (Connor Mitch, Perry Orth and Lorenzo Nuñez), three tailbacks (Brandon Wilds, Shon Carson and David Williams), and eight wide receivers (Pharoh Cooper, Deebo Samuel, Carlton Heard, Shamier Jeffery, Terry Googer, D.J. Neal, Matrick Belton and Hayden Hurst) this season.
THE ORTH QUAKE: Former walk-on quarterback Perry Orth, who went on scholarship prior to the start of the season, has solidified himself as the starting signal-caller. Orth, who spent part of the summer working in a local grocery store stocking shelves to help pay for his schooling, has completed 102-of-190 passes (53.7 percent) for 1,343 yards with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. He is 1-5 as a starting quarterback.
OH PERRY: Perry Orth entered the 2015 season having completed just 1-of-3 passes for five yards. The redshirt junior's first extensive duty came in relief of the injured Connor Mitch against Kentucky, where he responded by completing 13-of-20 passes for 179 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He made his first career start at Georgia, where he completed 6-of-17 passes for 66 yards with an interception. His second start was much better, as he hit on 14-of-28 passes for 200 yards with two touchdowns and an interception at LSU. He was even better in his next start against Vanderbilt, completing 17-of-28 for a career-high 272 yards with a touchdown and an interception, including a career-long 78-yard touchdown pass. He completed 15-of-24 passes for 192 yards with two picks, and rushed 11 times for a career-high 64 yards, including a 66-yarder at Texas A&M. At Tennessee, he threw for 233 yards while logging career-highs with 20 completions, 39 attempts, and three touchdown passes. He threw for 163 yards and a TD vs. Florida last week.
TOUGH VENUES: No one is happier to see a friendly home crowd than quarterback Perry Orth. Orth has had a challenging introduction to being a starting quarterback in the SEC. Anyone would be hard-pressed to find another quarterback in the country who took the field at such formidable venues as Georgia, LSU and Texas A&M and Tennessee, with just one home game in his first five career starts.
MITCH ON THE MEND: Connor Mitch, who was Carolina's starting quarterback in each of the first two games, has been sidelined since suffering a sprained right shoulder in week two against Kentucky. He has returned to the practice fields and is available to see game action. On the season, Mitch has completed 13-of-29 passes (44.8 percent) for 165 yards and a touchdown.
RUNNIN' WILDS: Fifth-year senior Brandon Wilds has been a workhorse since his return from a stretch in which he missed three consecutive games with a rib injury. The 6-2, 220-pounder carried a season-high 24 times for 119 yards in a win over Vanderbilt, then came back with a 17-carry, season-high 128-yard, two touchdown effort at Texas A&M before carrying 20 times for 79 yards at Tennessee. He has three 100-yard rushing games this season and seven in his career. For the season, Wilds has carried 104 times for 519 yards, a 5.0-yard average, with two scores. His 74.1 yards per game would rank 10th in the SEC if he had enough games to qualify.
MOVING UP THE CHARTS: Brandon Wilds has moved into 21st place on Carolina's all-time list in career rushing with 1,796 yards. He needs 15 yards to move past Rob DeBoer (1,810) into the top-20 on the all-time list.
100-100 TIMES TWO: The Gamecocks have recorded a 100-yard rusher and a 100-yard receiver in the same game twice this season. Brandon Wilds carried 16 times for 106 yards and Pharoh Cooper caught nine passes for 100 yards against Kentucky, then Wilds ran for 119 yards on 24 totes while Cooper had 160 yards on seven catches against Vanderbilt.
PHAROH IS KING: One of the most versatile players in all of college football is junior wide receiver Pharoh Cooper. The 5-11, 207-pounder from Havelock, N.C. is the Gamecocks' best bet to earn All-America accolades after a breakout season a year ago. His preseason accolades are many, but most notably, he earned three spots on the SEC Coaches' first-team all-conference squad, as a wide receiver, an all-purpose back and a return specialist. He was a preseason candidate for the Maxwell, Hornung and Biletnikoff awards.
TRIPLE CROWN THREAT: Pharoh Cooper can also run and throw. He has averaged 7.8 yards per carry in his career, rushing 67 times for 523 yards with four TDs, and has completed 9-of-15 passes for 118 yards with four scores, including a 17-yard throwback to Perry Orth against Florida this season.
2015 IS THE YEAR OF PHAROH: Pharoh Cooper ranks third in the SEC with 69.6 receiving yards per game and is sixth with 5.1 receptions per game. He has four 100-yard receiving games this season, including a school record-tying three in a row, and eight in his career. He also has six of Carolina's 13 touchdown receptions this season.
KING TUTT_CHDOWN: Pharoh Cooper is moving up the Carolina all-time receiving lists. He is ninth in school history with 123 receptions, is ninth in receiving yards with 1,886 and is tied with Bruce Ellington for eighth in touchdown receptions with 16. Here's where Cooper ranks on the Carolina charts:
ADAMS' MARK: Senior tight end Jerell Adams, a 6-6, 231-pounder from Pinewood, S.C., is the team's second-leading receiver with 22 receptions for 316 yards, including three touchdown receptions. He has 60 career catches for 872 yards, a 14.5-yard average with seven touchdowns. Adams has also produced in the classroom, as he is a two-time member of the SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll and was named the recipient of the prestigious Dr. Harris Pastides Outstanding Student-Athlete Representative of the University of South Carolina at the 2015 Spring Game.
DIAMONDS AREN'T FOREVER: 22-year-old walk-on freshman Hayden Hurst was added to the Carolina football roster this summer. Hurst was originally committed to attend Florida State on a baseball scholarship, before electing to turn pro and signed a contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. He was drafted as a pitcher and eventually was moved to first base before giving up the game for good. He was encouraged to walk-on at South Carolina by Perry Orth, who he has known for years. Hurst moved from tight end to wide receiver after the UCF game and caught his first pass, a 9-yard reception, at LSU. He was on the receiving end of a 47-yard pitch-and-catch from Orth at Texas A&M. He had his first two-catch game at Tennessee and made his first career start against Florida.
THE SHELL GAME: The Gamecocks feature an experienced first unit up front, headlined by fifth-year senior left tackle Brandon Shell. Shell, a 6-6, 328-pounder from Goose Creek, S.C. who has been tabbed to some preseason All-SEC units, made the move from right tackle to left tackle this season, a position where he made his first career start (at Vanderbilt in 2012), before moving to the right side where he made 35 consecutive starts entering the 2015 season. His 46 career starts is the fourth-highest total in school history.
THE MIKE MAN: Fifth-year senior offensive lineman Mike Matulis gives Carolina veteran leadership up front. He has started 20 games in his career while battling shoulder and knee injuries. The 6-5, 293-pounder from Boynton Beach, Fla., was a first-team Freshman All-American in 2011, and was penciled in as the starting right guard a year ago, but suffered a left knee injury midway through fall camp and only saw limited time during the season before undergoing surgery.
GOING BOTH WAYS: Jonathan Walton has spent some time in the last two games on both sides of the ball. A linebacker throughout his career, Walton lined up in the backfield for the first time at Tennessee. The former high school running back proved he was not inserted just to block, as he caught a 10-yard touchdown pass in the contest. He started at the SAM linebacker position last week against Florida, but also saw time in the backfield against the Gators in the Gamecocks' three-back set.
THE SKAI'S THE LIMIT: The Gamecocks top linebacker is Skai Moore. Moore, a junior from Cooper City, Fla., is on his way to leading the team in tackles for a third-straight year, as his 95 tackles is 33 more than Isaiah Johnson, who is second with 62. He became the first Gamecock to lead the team in tackles in back-to-back years since Emanuel Cook (2007-08), while the last to do it three years in a row was Tony Watkins (1992-94). The 6-2, 218-pounder who garnered Defensive MVP honors in the 2014 Independence Bowl, tallied a team-high 11 tackles and a pair of interceptions in the season opening win over North Carolina, earning SEC Defensive Player of the Week accolades. It was the third time he's logged two interceptions in a game, also in the 2014 Capital One Bowl versus Wisconsin and in 2014 against South Alabama. He had a career-high 14 stops at Texas A&M. He has recorded double-figures in tackles five times, is fourth in the SEC averaging 9.5 tackles per game and is tied for third in the SEC with four interceptions. Moore now owns 244 career tackles and 11 interceptions.
PICKIN' AND GRINNIN': Carolina linebacker Skai Moore has 11 career interceptions, including four this season, two in the opener against North Carolina and one against both Kentucky and Vanderbilt. He is among the school's all-time leader in career INTs:
WAVING THE WHEAT GOODBYE: Senior safety Isaiah Johnson graduated from the University of Kansas, came to Carolina late in the summer, and quickly moved into a starting role. The 6-0, 209-pounder from Cary, N.C. was voted the Big 12 Coaches' Defensive Newcomer of the Year in 2013. He is second on the squad and 24th in the SEC with 62 tackles, 6.2 per game.
THE FRISCO KID: Elliott Fry is 16-for-23 (69.6 percent) in field goals this season with a career long of 52 yards. Two of his misses have come from 55 and 57 yards out. His 1.6 field goals made per game is second in the SEC and is 14th in the country, while his 23 attempts is tied for fourth in the nation. He is ninth in the SEC in scoring among kickers at 6.9 points per game. Fry, a 2015 Groza candidate, was nominated for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, was a second-team preseason All-SEC selection by the media and a third-team choice by the league's 14 coaches. Last season, he was a Groza Award semifinalist, connected on 18-of-25 field goals, ranked third in the SEC with 105 points, the third-highest single-season mark in school history, and was fifth in the SEC in points per game at 8.1. He was a member of the 2014 SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll.
YOU WANT A FRY WITH THAT?: Elliott Fry has hit on 49-of-66 career field goal attempts (74.2 percent), and that percentage increases to 80.3 when he attempts from under 54-yards out (49-of-61). He has connected on 126-of-127 extra points, including a school record 120 in a row.
ALWAYS BETTER WHEN IT'S FRY: Junior Elliott Fry is moving up the South Carolina charts in several season and career categories:
FIELD GOALS MADE
FIELD GOALS ATTEMPTED
FIELD GOAL PERCENTAGE
PAT PERCENTAGE (Min. 40 Made)
FROM WAY DOWNTOWN: Junior placekicker Elliott Fry connected on a career-long 52-yard field goal against UCF. That came on the heels of a then-career long 51-yarder at Georgia the previous week. Entering the 2015 season his long was 47 yards. The 52-yarder was the longest field goal by a Gamecock since Ryan Succop connected from 54-yards out against Arkansas in 2008 and tied for the sixth-longest in school history.
BOOMING ARD: Kickoff specialist Landon Ard is second in the SEC in percent of kickoffs resulting in touchbacks. Only Auburn (73 pct.) has a higher percentage than Ard's 67 percent (32-of-48).
KELLY'S A HERO: Sean Kelly has proven to be a valuable addition. The former FAU Owl and Ray Guy Award nominee ranks sixth in the SEC in punting with a 43.3-yard average, and the Gamecocks are fifth in the league in net punting average at 40.3. He has placed 21 inside the 20, the league's highest total, with only three touchbacks. He had a 60-yard boot against North Carolina, the Gamecocks' first punt of 60 yards or more since 2011 when Joey Scribner-Howard launched a 60-yarder at Mississippi State, then boomed a career-long 69-yarder against Florida, the second-longest punt in the SEC this season. He averaged 49.7 yards on five punts at Tennessee. The 5-10, 189-pounder from Oakland, Fla., who punted for FAU for two seasons, has punted 47 times with 12 over 50 yards.
GET HIM THE BALL: True freshman Rashad Fenton touched the ball for the first time in a college game at LSU and made it memorable. The Miami. Fla. native returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown against the Tigers. It was the first kickoff return for a score by the Gamecocks since Matthew Thomas went 95 yards against Virginia on Sept. 7, 2002. The Gamecocks rank third in the SEC in kick return average at 23.9 yards per return.
CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN: South Carolina had individual game captains early in the season before electing permanent team captains prior to the LSU game. The permanent captains are Pharoh Cooper, T.J. Holloman, Isaiah Johnson, Mike Matulis, Skai Moore, and Brandon Shell.
UP NEXT: South Carolina will wrap up the 2015 season when the annual Palmetto Bowl between the Gamecocks and Tigers gets renewed on Saturday, November 28, at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia. The Gamecocks had their school-record five-game winning streak snapped last season in Clemson. The Tigers lead the all-time series 66-42-4 including a 49-32-3 advantage when playing in Columbia in a series that dates back to 1896.
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