Coming off a 2005 season where they finished 7-5, South Carolina fans are optimistic of the future of the Gamecocks' program in the second year under legendary head coach Steve Spurrier. Spurrier was named the Associated Press SEC Coach of the Year last season after leading South Carolina to wins over SEC powers Tennessee and Florida en route to their 12th bowl appearance in school history.

The 2006 squad will return just 10 starters from last year, including six players on offense and four on defense, though they boasts the return of 40 lettermen.


Headline the returning players from last season is wide receiver Sidney Rice (6-3, 200, So.), who led the Gamecocks in 2005 with 1,143 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns, setting multiple school receiving records and earning a spot on the All-SEC team. He ended his freshman season with a commanding 12 catch, 191-yard game against Missouri in the Independence Bowl.

Joining Rice at receiver will be Kenny McKinley (5-11, 181, So.), who was the third leading receiver a year ago with 291 yards and one touchdown while appearing in all 12 games. Noah Whiteside (5-10, 180, Sr.) will also play a role for South Carolina at receiver and is expected to return to full form after a nagging ankle injury kept his time to a minimum last year.


Jared Cook (6-5, 229, Fr.), who redshirted last season, made the move from wide receiver to tight end this spring, and could make the position utilized more in the Gamecock offense this year.


Another position loaded with talent in this years offense is tailback, where South Carolina will return last year's leading rusher Mike Davis (5-9, 210, So.), as well as Cory Boyd (6-1, 208, Jr.), who saw playing time in 2004 but missed last season because of suspension. As a true freshman last season, Davis ran for a team-high 666 yards and five touchdowns.

Also returning with experience at tailback is Bobby Wallace (5-7, 185, So.), who was the starter at the beginning of the season last year but would ultimately serve as Davis' backup.


Joining the ground game at full back will be Lanard Stafford (5-9, 242, Jr.) and true freshman Clark Gaston (6-3, 233), with Stafford getting the early nod for the starting role. Stafford, a former offensive lineman, has served well as a blocker in the past, while Gaston, who enrolled early to go through spring training, has the potential to be a solid contributor as well.


At quarterback, the Gamecocks will bring back Blake Mitchell (6-3, 206, Jr.), who threw for 2,370 yards and 17 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2005. Also earning potential time behind center are Cade Thomas (6-2, 181, Fr.) and Tommy Beecher (6-1, 206, Fr.), who both look to make their first collegiate appearances after red shirting last season.


Returning starters to the offensive line include tackle Jamon Meredith (6-4, 290, Jr.) and center Chris White (6-3, 316, Sr.), who has the most starts of any South Carolina player with 28. They will be joined by tackle Gurminder Thind (6-4, 286, So.) and guards James Thompson (6-3, 323, Jr.) and Thomas Coleman (6-3, 315, Sr.), all of whom have experience on the line, as well as a handful of incoming freshman in the fall.


Defensively, South Carolina will look to reload across the board after losing seven starters from last year.


On the front line, the Gamecocks return experience in the form of tackle Stanley Doughty (6-0, 331, Jr.) and end Jordin Lindsey (6-3, 248, Jr.), while several players look to compete for the other two open spots.


Marque Hall (6-3, 291, Jr.) and Matt Raysor (6-3, 313, So.) are the leading candidates to join Doughty at tackle, while Dakota Walker (6-3, 226, So.), who battled injury throughout last season, is the favorite to start at end opposite Lindsey. Former line backer Ryan Brown (6-0, 247, Jr.) also made the switch to end this season and is battling for the starting job.


At linebacker, the Gamecocks will be reloading at all three positions after losing the majority of their experience last season. Slated to start at the two outside linebackers in 2006 are Marvin Sapp (5-11, 216, So.) and Cody Wells (5-11, 212, Jr.), who recorded 23 and 31 tackles, respectively, as back ups a year ago. Junior College transfer Jasper Brinkley (6-2, 250 Jr.) is the leading man at middle linebacker going into the fall camp.

In the defensive secondary, USC faces their biggest replacement challenge in finding someone to fill the shoes of All-American safety Ko Simpson, who left early for the NFL draft. Looking to replace Simpson is Brandon Isaac (6-2, 191, Sr.), who saw time at both safety and cornerback last season, recording 34 tackles and three pass deflections.


Mychal Belcher (6-0, 190, Fr.) is the leader for the other safety spot after grayshirting last season, with Ty Erving (5-10, 197, Jr.) and Chris Hampton (5-11, 186, Jr.) also competing for the job.


At cornerback, Fred Bennett (6-1, 199, Sr.) returns as the fourth starter from last season, and will likely be joined by Carlos Thomas (5-10, 174, So.). In 2005, Bennett recorded three interceptions and a team-high 10 broken up passes.


After losing their starting punter and place kicker in Josh Brown during the off-season, Spurrier's team will look to fill the openings with Ryan Succop (6-3, 214, So.), who will also be charged with fulfilling both kicking roles. Succop was called upon on kickoffs last season, and was 0-2 on field goal tries as Brown's understudy.





All-Time Series: 14-2-1

Stadium: Williams-Brice (80,250)


First Meeting: 1930, LSU 7, South Carolina 6


Last Meeting: 2003, LSU 33, South Carolina 7


Head Coach: Steve Spurrier, 7-5 at USC, 1 year

                      149-45-2 overall, 16 years


2005 in Review: 7-5, 5-3 SEC


Final '05 Ranking: Not ranked


Off. / Def. Systems: Multiple / Multiple


Returning Starters: 10; 6 offense, 4 defense,


Last Bowl Appearance: 2005 Independence Bowl

                                       Missouri 38, South Carolina 31


Last Conference Championship: 1969, Atlantic Coast





Total Offense: 315.9 (9th - SEC / 100th - NCAA)


Rushing Offense: 95.2 (11th - SEC / 108th - NCAA)


Passing Offense: 220.8 (5th - SEC / 64th - NCAA)


Scoring Offense: 23.7 (7th - SEC / 75th - NCAA)


Total Defense: 360.8 (10th - SEC / 47th - NCAA)


Rushing Defense: 174.2 (11th - SEC / 85th - NCAA)


Passing Defense: 186.5 (5th - SEC / 22nd - NCAA)


Scoring Defense: 23.2 (8th - SEC/ 40th - NCAA)


Turnover Margin: +2 (5th - SEC / 50th - NCAA)





Rushing: Mike Davis – 146 rushes, 666 yards, 5 TD


Passing: Blake Mitchell – 315-186-12, 2370 yards, 17 TD


Receiving: Sidney Rice – 70 catches, 1143 yards, 13 TD





Date                 Opponent                     '05 Result


A-31                Mississippi State           ---


S-9                  Georgia                        L, 17-15


S-16                Wofford                       ---


S-23                Florida Atlantic              ---


S-28                Auburn                         L, 48-7


O-7                  at Kentucky                  W, 44-16


O-21                at Vanderbilt                 W, 35-28


O-28                Tennessee                    W, 16-15


N-4                  Arkansas                      W, 14-10


N-11                at Florida                      W, 30-22


N-18                Middle Tennessee           ---


N-25                at Clemson                    L, 13-9

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