Nov. 23, 2012
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The No. 13/12 South Carolina Gamecocks (9-2, 6-2 SEC) wrap up the 2012 regular season schedule this week as they travel to Death Valley to face the No. 12/9 Clemson Tigers (10-1, 7-1 ACC). Game time is set for 7 p.m. ET at Clemson Memorial Stadium (81,500). The game will be televised nationally on ESPN with Joe Tessitore and Matt Millen in the booth and Shannon Spake working the sidelines. Touchdown Radio has the national radio call with Frank Frangie and KC Jones describing the action.
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 18 games over the .500 mark with an all-time record of 563-545-44. The Gamecocks were nine games under .500 until head coach Steve Spurrier took the reins in 2005, but are 27 games over since.
SENIOR SALUTE: Today is the final regular season game for 29 Gamecock seniors including: Akeem Auguste, Jacob Baker, Reginald Bowens, Kaleb Broome, Andrew Clifford, Justice Cunningham, Travis Ford, Aldrick Fordham, Qua Gilchrist, Chaun Gresham, DeVonte Holloman, Walker Inabinet, Damario Jeffery, Byron Jerideau, T.J. Johnson, Blair Lowery, Kyle Madden, Kenny Miles, Davis Moore, D.L. Moore, Jared Shaw, DeAngelo Smith, Quin Smith, Seth Strickland, D.J. Swearinger, Devin Taylor, David Wilkins, Shaq Wilson and Adam Yates.
FOUR-YEAR WIN TOTALS: The 2012 Carolina senior class has produced 36 wins over the past four seasons (7 in 2009, 9 in 2010, 11 in 2011 and 9 in 2012), surpassing last year's senior class total of 34 for the most in school history. It's the third-straight year a new standard has been set, as the 2010 seniors posted a then-school record 29 wins.
CAROLINA VS. CLEMSON: This is the 110th meeting between these two Palmetto State schools in a series that dates back to 1896. The teams have met every year since 1909, making the Carolina-Clemson series the second-longest running consecutively played rivalry in college football at 104 straight meetings, behind only Minnesota vs. Wisconsin (106). The Tigers hold a 65-40-4 advantage, including a 16-9-1 mark when playing in Clemson. However, the Gamecocks have won the last three and four of the last six meetings. Carolina has won on two of its last three trips to Clemson.
THAT'S A STREAK: The Gamecocks have won each of the last three meetings, their first three-game winning streak in the series since 1968-70 when Tommy Suggs was quarterbacking the Gamecocks, and are looking to make it four straight over the Tigers for just the second time in history, matching the 1951-54 stretch for the longest Carolina winning streak in the series.
PERFECT FINISH: Nine Gamecocks have participated in each of the last three games against Clemson and are trying to finish their careers with a perfect 4-0 mark against the Tigers. Those nine include Reginald Bowens, Justice Cunningham, DeVonte Holloman, T.J. Johnson, Kenny Miles, D.L. Moore, Quin Smith, D.J. Swearinger and Devin Taylor. Johnson is the only one of the group that has started in each of the previous three wins.
BOTH TEAMS RANKED: For the seventh time in the last eight years in this rivalry game, at least one of the teams comes into the game ranked among the nation's top 25. This is the second-straight year that both teams enter the game ranked and just the fifth time overall. The Gamecocks have prevailed in three of the previous four contests when both teams were ranked, including last season's 34-13 win in Columbia. Here are the dates when both teams were ranked by the AP entering the contest:
Year Carolina Clemson Result 1979 19 13 SC 13, CU 9 1987 12 8 SC 20, CU 7 2000 25 16 CU 16, SC 14 2011 14 18 SC 34, CU 13 2012 13 12 ???
COMBINED WINS: Clemson (10-1) and Carolina (9-2) come in with a combined 19 wins, the most ever when the two teams have met, one win more than last year when both teams came in with 9-2 records. Prior to 2011, the high was 16 combined wins, accomplished four times: 1981 (CU-10, SC-6), 1984 (CU-7, SC-9), 1987 (CU-9, SC-7) and 1988 (CU-8, SC-8).
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: The No. 14/13 Gamecocks got a career-high 107 yards rushing and three touchdown passes from Connor Shaw in a convincing 34-13 win over No. 18/17 Clemson at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia on Nov. 26, 2011. Shaw averaged 5.6 yards per rush and completed 14-of-20 passes for 210 yards. The Gamecock defense held the Tigers to 153 yards of offense and tallied five sacks. Carolina allowed just three points and 72 yards in the second half. For more on the game, see page 14 of the game notes.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET IN CLEMSON: The Eastern Division champion Gamecocks warmed up for the SEC Championship with a 29-7 victory at Clemson on Nov. 27, 2010. Stephen Garcia threw for two touchdowns, Alshon Jeffery logged a 100-yard receiving game and the Gamecocks posted their third nine-win season in school history. Clemson was held scoreless for the game's final 58 minutes. Spencer Lanning added three field goals for Carolina, while Antonio Allen put the icing on the cake with a 37-yard interception return early in the third quarter, putting Carolina on top 26-7. For more on the game, see page 15 of the game notes.
CAROLINA VS. THE ACC: South Carolina, a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference from 1953-70, is 195-241-22 all-time against teams that currently comprise its former league. Clemson is the opponent Carolina has faced the most (109 meetings), followed by NC State (57), Wake Forest (56) and North Carolina (55).
SPURRIER VS. CLEMSON: Steve Spurrier is 5-5 in 10 previous contests against Clemson. He was 1-2 as the head coach at Duke University, and is 4-3 in seven meetings with the Tigers as the Gamecocks' head coach.
SPURRIER VS. SWINNEY: Steve Spurrier is 3-1 against Clemson's Dabo Swinney. The Tigers posted a win when the two coaches squared off for the first time in 2008, but Spurrier has had the better of it over the past three seasons, outscoring Clemson by a combined score of 97-37.
THE HEAD BALL COACH: Steve Spurrier is in his eighth season directing the Gamecock football program. He has logged a 64-37 mark (.634) in Columbia. The Head Ball Coach is tied with Rex Enright for the top spot on the school's all-time wins with 64 and is second in games coached with 101, behind Enright (140). Spurrier owns a 206-77-2 mark (.726) in 23 seasons as a collegiate head coach, with stops at Duke and Florida before his stint at Carolina.
AT THE TOP OF THE LEADER BOARD: Head coach Steve Spurrier recorded his 64th victory at South Carolina in his 101st career game as the Gamecocks' head coach last week against Wofford. He has tied Rex Enright for the most coaching wins in school history. A win over Clemson would make him the winningest coach in Carolina history. He is already the winningest coach at Florida with 122 victories. The legendary Bear Bryant (60 at Kentucky and 232 at Alabama) is the only coach to own the most wins at two SEC schools.
TOPS IN HIS FIELD: Steve Spurrier became 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 206 wins. In addition, the HBC has 47 wins as a head coach at the professional level, giving him 253 career coaching wins.
UNCHARTED TERRITORY: The Gamecocks are bowl eligible for the eighth time in as many seasons under Steve Spurrier. He has taken Carolina to six bowl games. 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.
THE LAST TIME OUT: The No. 12/11 Gamecocks struggled for three quarters before putting up 17 fourth quarter points in a 24-7 win over Wofford last Saturday afternoon in Columbia. The Terriers completed just one pass, but gained 330 yards, including 259 on 60 rushes. However, the Carolina defense forced three turnovers. Akeem Auguste returned a fumble 31 yards midway through the fourth period to put the game out of reach. Kenny Miles, playing in his final game at Willliams-Brice Stadium, had personal highs with 27 carries for 127 yards, his fourth career 100-yard rushing day.
OUT OF THEIR LEAGUE: The Gamecocks put a 15-game regular season non-conference winning streak on the line against Clemson. They are 3-0 in non-conference action this season and were 4-0 in regular season non-conference action in each of the previous three seasons. Including the bowl games, the Gamecocks went 5-0 in non-conference action in 2011 after going 4-1 in non-league games in both 2009 and 2010. They are 29-7 in non-conference games under head coach Steve Spurrier, including wins in 27 of their last 32 non-SEC tilts. The year-by-year breakdown: 2005 (2-2); 2006 (5-0); 2007 (3-1); 2008 (3-2); 2009 (4-1); 2010 (4-1); 2011 (5-0); 2012 (3-0). South Carolina's last regular season non-conference loss came at Clemson in 2008.
NINE IS FINE: With a 9-2 record, Carolina has nine or more wins for just the fifth time in school history, three of which have come in the last three years, Here are the 9-, 10-, and 11-win seasons:
9 wins - 3 times: 2001, 2010, 2012.
WINNING MORE OFTEN: The Gamecocks have put together five-straight winning seasons 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 11 games at Williams-Brice Stadium, including a perfect 7-0 record at home in 2012. The Gamecocks were 6-1 in each of the previous three seasons. The only home losses in the last four years came to top-ranked Florida in 2009, to 17th-ranked Arkansas in 2010 and to defending national champion Auburn in 2011. Carolina is 27-3 in its last 30 home games.
AND NOT BAD ON THE ROAD EITHER: Carolina is 2-2 on the road this season, with both losses coming at Top-10 teams (LSU and Florida), but has won eight of its last 11 true road games. The Gamecocks had their school record six-game road winning streak snapped at Arkansas late in the 2011 season.
AN SEC SIX-PACK: With a 6-2 SEC mark, the Gamecocks reached six SEC victories for the second year in a row. They had never had six SEC wins in a season prior to 2011. They finished the 2000, 2001, 2005 and 2010 seasons with 5-3 SEC marks. Carolina finished 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 44 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 44 consecutive weeks. Only Alabama, LSU, Oregon and Oklahoma have consecutive streaks longer in the AP Top-25 than the Gamecocks and Cardinal.
RK Team Weeks 1. Alabama 78 2. LSU 62 3. Oregon 58 4. Oklahoma 46 5. SC 44 Stanford 44
SANDERS IS SPECIAL: Junior punt returner Ace Sanders has a chance 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 13.9 yards per return, first in the SEC and 10th 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 13.9-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 30 yards to become the school's single-season leader in punt return yardage, passing Dick Harris's record, set in 1971.
COMING UP ACES: Junior wide receiver Ace Sanders has done it all this season. He is second on the team with 30 receptions for 320 yards and six touchdowns, has returned 24 punts for a 13.9-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 16-3 as a starting quarterback (10-0 at home), the best record after 19 games of any signal-caller in Carolina history. The 6-1, 207-pounder junior from Flowery Branch, Ga. has completed 67.3 percent of his passes for 1,732 yards and 15 touchdowns with just seven interceptions this season. He is third in the SEC and 16th in the country in efficiency rating (156.9).
3000-1000 CLUB: Junior quarterback Connor Shaw became 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 3,403 yards passing and 1,029 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 .667 (282-of-423) 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 16-3 .842 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 16-3 .842 Jeff Grantz 14-14 .500 Blake Mitchell 13-10 .565
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 83 times this season for 313 yards, but set career highs with 27 carries for 127 yards last week against Wofford. It was his fourth career 100-yard day. Miles has 294 career totes for 1,295 yards, a 4.4-yard average. Davis, a true freshman, has carried 40 times for 232 yards, 5.8 yards per carry.
JOINING THE 1,000-YARD CLUB: Earlier this season, fifth-year senior running back Kenny Miles (1,295 yards) and junior quarterback Connor Shaw (1,029 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 leads the team with 31 receptions for 492 yards, a 15.9-yard average, and four touchdowns, and has returned 13 kickoffs for a 21.9-yard average, including a 50-yarder against Missouri. Ellington has been hot of late, going over 100 yards receiving in two of the last three games - 101 vs. Tennessee and a career-high 104 yards against Arkansas. 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 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 20 catches this season for 261 yards. He had just 27 receptions for 257 yards from 2009-11. Sophomore Rory "Busta" Anderson has become a big play threat. He has 13 catches this season for 264 yards, a 20.3-yard average, with five touchdowns. In his brief career, Anderson has eight TDs among his 21 catches with a 21.5-yard per catch average.
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 51 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 23 of the last 24 games. Junior right guard Ronald Patrick has started all 11 games this season, his first career starts. The tackle position has been somewhat fluid, but has settled in recent weeks. 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 seven games at right tackle. Redshirt sophomore tackle Corey Robinson has been the starting left tackle in seven of the last eight contests, his first career starts. True sophomore Mike Matulis (10 career starts) has made five starts this season, three at left tackle and two at right tackle, but is out for the season after undergoing shoulder surgery. Redshirt sophomore tackle Cody Gibson has made six career starts, including two this season.
NO ONE HAS MORE: Senior center T.J. Johnson has made 51 consecutive starts, matching Nevada's offensive lineman Chris Barker, for the top spot among active Division I players.
THE TOTAL PACKAGE: Carolina ranks fourth in the SEC and 13th in the nation in total defense, allowing 310.8 yards per game (116.6 rushing/194.2 passing). They are also 13th in scoring defense, allowing just 17.45 points per game. Last season, they ranked third in both the SEC and the country in total defense, 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 34 sacks on the year, tops in the SEC and eighth in the nation. Sophomore Jadeveon Clowney leads the way with 8.5 sacks (tied for 18th in the country) and Chaz Sutton has added 5.0, while 12 different players have figured into the total. Clowney ranks third in the SEC with both his 8.5 sacks (0.85/game) and with 17.0 tackles for loss (1.70/game).
SACK CITY: The Gamecocks have 34 sacks through 11 games. At an average of 3.09 sacks per game, they are on pace for 40 sacks this season, which just fall short of the school record of 41, set in 2010.
BEHIND ENEMY LINES: The Gamecocks rank tied for 19th in the nation in tackles for loss with 78 in 11 games, an average of 7.09 per game. Jadeveon Clowney leads the way with 17.0 TFLs, seventh in the nation. Nineteen different players have figured in to the tackle for loss column on the stat sheet.
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 (19 starts) and Damario Jeffery (6 starts) handle the Mike position; Shaq Wilson (31 starts) and Quin Smith (4 starts) man the Will position; and DeVonte Holloman (33 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 with 72 tackles, including a career-high 14 stops at LSU. He also has two interceptions, two forced fumbles 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 65 tackles (second on the team), two interceptions including a 69-yard "pick-six", five pass breakups, two fumble recoveries including a 65-yard fumble return for a touchdown, and a forced fumble this season. He logged a season-best 13 stops against Arkansas and, with his interception return for a score, was named the Walter Camp Defensive Player of the Week. He has three straight games of double figures in tackles, logging 35 tackles over that three-game stretch.
YAY(TS) FOR ADAM: Senior kicker Adam Yates has put together a solid season. The Sparks, Md. product was 3-for-4 in field goal attempts at Florida, 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 9-of-13 in field goal attempts. He is a perfect 43-for-43 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 25 touchbacks on 50 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 39.5 yards on 46 punts with 10 inside the 20, 18 fair catches and five that have traveled 50+ yards. Both Hull and backup punter Patrick Fish, wear number 13.
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