Gamecocks and Vols Set For Saturday's Contest
COMING TO YOUR CITY: The South Carolina Gamecocks (5-2, 3-2 SEC) return home for the first time in a month to host the Tennessee Volunteers (6-1, 2-1 SEC) in an SEC Eastern Division match up on Saturday, Oct. 28. Game time is set for 7:45 p.m. ET at Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250) in Columbia. The game will be televised by ESPN with Mike Patrick and Todd Blackledge in the booth and Holly Rowe on the sidelines. Todd Ellis and Tommy Suggs will be in the radio booth for the Carolina Gamecocks Sports Network, with Rob DeBoer on the sidelines. The game can also be heard on SIRIUS satellite radio channel 128. The ESPN College GameDay Built by Home Depot will originate from Columbia from 10 a.m. to 12 noon with Chris Fowler, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard hosting the show.
ABOUT THE GAMECOCKS: South Carolina is 5-2 on the season, including a 3-2 mark in Southeastern Conference play. They are 3-0 on the road (wins at Mississippi State, Kentucky and Vanderbilt) and 2-2 at home, with non-conference wins over Wofford and Florida Atlantic and losses to nationally-ranked Georgia and Auburn. The Gamecocks, winners of two straight, rank ninth in the SEC in scoring offense (22.7 ppg) and are fourth in scoring defense (14.0 ppg).
AND FOR THE VOLUNTEERS: Tennessee is 6-1 overall and 2-1 in SEC action. They enter the game ranked eighth in the country by the Associated Press and are ninth in the USA TODAY/Coaches poll. The Vols are coming off a 16-13 win over Alabama and have won their last four games. Tennessee is second in the SEC in scoring offense (32.4 ppg) and eighth in scoring defense (18.4 ppg).
A CAROLINA WIN OVER TENNESSEE WOULD...:
* Be the Gamecocks second win in a row over the Volunteers, something that has never been accomplished.
* Improve Head Coach Steve Spurrier's record to 11-5 against Tennessee.
* Give the Gamecocks three straight wins in the SEC and five wins in their last six games overall.
* Improve USC's record to 4-19-2 all-time against the Vols.
* Give the Gamecocks six wins on the season, becoming bowl-eligible. Steve Spurrier would become the first coach in school history to lead his team to bowl appearances in each of his first two seasons.
* Guarantee USC at least a .500 mark in SEC action for the third straight year for the first time in school history.
SERIES NOTES: This is the 25th meeting between Carolina and Tennessee in a series that dates back to 1903. The Volunteers lead the all-time series, 19-3-2. The teams have met every year since 1992 (a 24-23 South Carolina victory), with Tennessee winning 12 of the 13 meetings since that game. The Gamecocks snapped a 12-game losing streak to the Vols and won for the first time ever in Knoxville when they came away with a 16-15 win last season. Tennessee posted a 43-29 win on Oct. 30, 2004 in their last trip to Columbia. USC's last win at home came by a 24-23 margin on Oct. 31, 1992. Their only other win over Tennessee came in the first meeting ever in 1903 (24-0).
THE START OF SOMETHING BIG: Carolina is set to embark on the most difficult portion of its schedule. Beginning with this week's game against Tennessee, four of the five remaining games on the Gamecocks' schedule are against teams currently ranked in the top 15 in the country. The quartet of No. 8 Tennessee (6-1), No. 13 Arkansas (6-1), No. 9 Florida (6-1) and No. 10 Clemson (7-1) have combined to post a 25-4 record through the end of October. Overall, USC's 2006 opponents have combined for a 55-34 record, a .618 winning pct.
THE LAST TOP-TEN TEAM TO FALL: The last top-10 team to fall victim to the Gamecocks was the ninth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs, who left Columbia with a 21-10 loss on Sept. 9, 2000. Since that victory, South Carolina has dropped eight straight games to top-10 teams.
PLAYING A RANKED OPPONENT: This is the third test of the season for the Gamecocks against a ranked opponent. All three games have been held in the friendly confines of Williams-Brice Stadium. Carolina dropped an 18-0 decision to Georgia, who was ranked 12th in the country (AP) at that time, then fell to second-ranked Auburn, 24-17. Last season, Carolina was 2-1 against ranked opponents, knocking off No. 23 Tennessee and No. 12 Florida after losing to No. 9 Georgia.
SPURRIER AGAINST THE BEST: Steve Spurrier owns a 47-32-1 record when facing ranked opponents in his career, including wins in 13 of his last 19 opportunities. He has an 11-12 mark when facing teams ranked in the top five in the country. The last top-5 team he defeated was second-ranked Tennessee on Sept. 18, 1999 (23-21). He is 2-3 against nationally-ranked teams since taking over at Carolina, with wins over Tennessee and Florida and losses to Georgia (twice) and Auburn.
SPURRIER VS. TENNESSEE: South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier owns a 10-5 career record against Tennessee, including a 5-4 mark in Knoxville. He is the only coach to take three different schools (Duke, Florida and South Carolina) into Knoxville and leave with a victory. He faced the Vols every year from 1988 to 2001, the first two with Duke (where he was 1-1) and the final 12 when he was the head coach at Florida (8-4). Tennessee is one of seven schools in which he has posted double figures in wins. He also owns double-figure career wins over Kentucky (14), Vanderbilt (14), Georgia (11), LSU (11), Auburn (10) and South Carolina (10).
SPURRIER AND FULMER: Steve Spurrier and Phillip Fulmer are two of the 13 active Division I coaches who have won national championships. Remarkably, they each have won 134 games while coaching in the SEC - Spurrier won 122 at Florida and has won 12 at Carolina, while Fulmer has won all 134 as the head coach at Tennesee. Coach Spurrier has the better of it in head-to-head meetings, holding an 8-3 advantage over Coach Fulmer.
TENNESSEE TIES: Head Coach Steve Spurrier was born in Johnson City, Tenn. Fullback Clark Gaston (Cleveland-Ooltewah High), safety Chris Hampton (Memphis-Melrose High) and quarterback Cade Thompson (Maryville) are also from the Volunteer state.
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: Safeties Brandon Isaac (left shoulder), Ty Erving (knee) and Nick Prochak (left shoulder), defensive tackle Marque Hall (left knee), offensive guard Kevin Young (left shoulder), offensive tackle Gurminder Thind (right foot) and defensive end Terrence Campbell (left knee) have been lost for the 2006 campaign due to season-ending injuries.
FOR STARTERS: The Gamecocks have started six true freshmen (offensive tackle Hutch Eckerson, offensive guard Garrett Anderson, linebacker Rodney Paulk, cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, safety Emanuel Cook, wide receiver Moe Brown) and three redshirt freshmen (tight end Jared Cook, tailback Taylor Rank and wide receiver Freddie Brown) this season. Overall, 17 players have made their first collegiate start in 2006 for USC.
FRESH FISH: The Gamecocks have played 11 of the 18 true freshmen scholarship players who joined the team in the fall. Those who have seen action include: Garrett Anderson (4 starts), Moe Brown (1 start), Emanuel Cook (3 starts), Hutch Eckerson (5 starts), Chris Hail, Captain Munnerlyn (1 start), Eric Norwood, Rodney Paulk (3 starts), Vandaral Shackleford, Chris Smelley and Darian Stewart. Those headed for a redshirt include Pierre Andrews, Heath Batchelor, Seaver Brown, Terrence Campbell, Kenrick Ellis, Nick Prochak, and Kevin Young.
THE LAST TIME OUT: Syvelle Newton passed for two touchdowns and ran for another as USC earned its school--record fifth-straight SEC road win with a 31-13 victory at Vanderbilt. One of the TD passes went to Sidney Rice, his sixth of the season and 19th of his career, tying Robert Brooks and Jermale Kelly for the top mark in school history. Ryan Succop added a 55-yard field goal, the longest of his career and the second longest in school history. The Gamecocks overcame a season-high four turnovers by outgaining the Commodores 327-253. The game may have been won on third down, as Carolina converted 8-of-11, while Vandy converted just 1-of-12 third-down opportunities.
ROAD WARRIORS: The Gamecocks have won a school-record five straight conference road games. They have had their share of success winning on the road in the SEC over the past three seasons, boasting an impressive 8-3 record in that time (3-1 in 2004, 2-2 in 2005 and 3-0 in 2006). They trail only Auburn (9-1), Georgia (9-2) and Tennessee (7-2) in conference road success since the start of the 2004 season.
NUMBERS UP: With Syvelle Newton getting more comfortable in his role as the signal-caller, the USC offense has been much more productive: Gm. 1-3 Gm. 4-7 Points 42 117 Points/Game 14.0 29.3 First Downs 38 88 Total Yards 890 1551 Yards/Game 296.7 387.8 Rushing Yards 281 693 Rushing Yards/Game 93.7 173.3 Passing Yards 609 858 Passing Yards/Game 203.0 214.5 3rd Down Conversions 12-36 27-49 3rd Down Percentage .333 .551
SOLID DEFENSE: The USC defense has allowed just 10 TDs and 98 points through seven games, an average of 14.0 points per game, which ranks 13th in the nation. Only LSU (7), Ohio State (7), Rutgers (8), Florida (8) and Virginia Tech (9) have allowed fewer touchdowns than the Gamecocks. .After seven games a season ago, USC had surrendered 181 points, an average of 25.9 points per game. They are allowing their opposition to convert 29.7 percent (27-of-91) of its third down attempts (15th in the nation), down from 41 percent a year ago.
PUNT IS A FOUR-LETTER WORD: And one that Steve Spurrier has not uttered much this season. The Gamecocks have punted just 18 times this season, the fewest number in the SEC. Six of those 18 punts came in the season opener at Mississippi State. They have punted just four times in the last three games combined. Only Hawaii (11) and West Virginia (15) have punted fewer times than South Carolina in Division I football.
NEWTON'S LAW: Senior Syvelle Newton moved into the quarterback position for the first time this season against Wofford in Game 3. It was his first start at that position since the final game of the 2004 campaign. Newton started five games at quarterback that season, getting the nod against South Florida, Ole Miss, Kentucky, Florida and Clemson. He is 4-1 as a starter this season and owns a career mark of 6-4 as a starter.
NEWTON'S NUMBERS: Syvelle Newton is 72-of-114 (63.2 percent) for 1,010 yards with 10 touchdowns and four interceptions this season. He has a quarterback rating of 159.51, the second-best mark in the SEC. For his career, Newton has completed 147-of-252 passes (58.3 percent) for 2,168 yards and 18 touchdowns.
THIRD DOWN SUCCESS: Syvelle Newton's biggest attribute may be his ability to create in third down situations. The Gamecocks converted just 34 percent of their third-down opportunities last season and were 7-for-24 (29.2 percent) in the first two games this year. Over the past five games with Newton at the helm they are 32-for-63 in third down situations, 50.8 percent.
RARE TRIFECTA: Syvelle Newton has passed for 2,168 yards, rushed 194 times for 686 yards and has caught 60 passes for 666 yards. He has accounted for 30 touchdowns in his career - 18 passing, nine rushing and three receiving. Research from other SID's around the country has turned up just three names who have surpassed the 600-600-600 mark in the history of college football - Georgia's Hines Ward (1063 rushing, 918 passing, 1965 receiving), former SMU great Kyle Rote (2049 rushing, 648 passing, 734 receiving) and University of Ohio's Dave Juenger (770 rushing, 1,207 passing and 1,111 receiving).
RE-WRITING THE RECORD BOOK: The Syvelle Newton to Sidney Rice combination hit paydirt a school record five times against FAU. Rice became the first player in Carolina history to score five TDs in a game, surpassing the old mark of four, held by Mike Dingle and Stanley Pritchett. The five touchdown catches in a game also tied the SEC record, set by Carlos Carson of LSU against Rice in 1977. The 30-point scored by Rice ties for the fourth-highest single game total in SEC history.
A HELPING OF RICE: After being held to just five catches for 44 yards in the season's first two games, All-America candidate Sidney Rice turned it up a notch in wins over Wofford and FAU. Rice caught seven passes for a 151 yards, against the Terriers, then caught nine passes for 161 yards and five touchdowns in just over a half against the Owls. Rice has gone over the century mark in receiving yards in eight of his last 14 games. Only Sterling Sharpe (10) has more 100-yard receiving games in school history. Here are his 100-yard performances: Rice's 100-Yard Receiving Games Date Opponent Rec. Yards TD 12/31/05 Missouri 12 191 1 09/23/06 Florida Atlantic 9 161 5 09/16/06 Wofford 7 151 0 10/21/05 Vanderbilt 8 132 3 10/07/05 Kentucky 8 125 2 11/25/05 Clemson 7 122 0 10/28/05 Tennessee 8 112 2 11/11/05 Florida 5 112 0
MORE RICE PLEASE: Sidney Rice set the school's single-season record for receiving yards (1,143) and touchdown catches (13) in 2005. He has caught a touchdown pass in 11 of his 18 career games. He ranks eighth in the SEC in receptions per game (4.71) and in receiving yards per game (72.6). He became the 10th player in school history with 100 career receptions and tied the career touchdowns receiving leaders with 19 in the win at Vanderbilt. After just 18 games, he is quickly moving up the USC charts: Carolina Career Receptions Leaders No. Player Years Rec. 1. Sterling Sharpe 1983, 85-87 169 2. Zola Davis 1995-98 164 3. Robert Brooks 1988-91 156 4. Jermale Kelly 1997-00 153 5. Fred Zeigler 1967-69 146 6. Stanley Pritchett 1992-95 116 7. Brandon Bennett 1991-94 111 8. Ryan Brewer 1999-02 107 9. Philip Logan 1974-77 105 10. Sidney Rice 2005-06 103
Carolina Career Receiving Yards Leaders
No. Player Years Yards
1. Sterling Sharpe 1983, 85-87 2,497
2. Zola Davis 1995-98 2,354
3. Robert Brooks 1988-91 2,211
4. Jermale Kelly 1997-00 2,181
5. Philip Logan 1974-77 2,063
6. Fred Zeigler 1967-69 1,876
7. Troy Williamson 2002-04 1,754
8. Ira Hillary 1981-84 1,566
9. Sidney Rice 2005-06 1,562
10. Brian Scott 1999-01 1,506
Carolina Career Receiving Touchdown Leaders
No. Player Years TDs
1. Robert Brooks 1988-91 19
2. Jermale Kelly 1997-00 19
3. Sidney Rice 2005-06 19
4. Sterling Sharpe 1983, 1985-87 17
5. Zola Davis 1995-98 17
BOYD CARRIES THE LOAD: Cory Boyd established career highs in carries (25) and yards rushing (113) in the win at Kentucky, then came back with a 22-carry, 113-yard performance at Vanderbilt. They are the first two 100-yard rushing day of his career. He is the first USCback to rush for 100+ yards in consecutive games against SEC opponents since Derek Watson rushed for 100+ in three straight games in 2000. Boyd is 21 yards shy of becoming the 36th player in USC history to rush for 1,000 yards in a career. Here are his 2006 numbers: Gm. 1-5 Gm. 6-7 Season Carries 37 47 84 Yards 212 226 438 Yards Per Game* 53.0 113.0 73.0 Yards Per Carry 5.7 4.8 5.2 Touchdowns 3 1 4 *Note: Boyd did not play against FAU.
THREE REACH THE CENTURY MARK: Cory Boyd became the third player on the Gamecocks' roster to rush for 100 yards in a game when he eclipsed the mark with his 113-yard effort against Kentucky. He doubled his total with another 113-yard performance at Vanderbilt. Sophomore Mike Davis went over the 100-yard plateau twice last season (125 yards versus Missouri and 111 against Clemson). His high this season is 92 against Florida Atlantic. Redshirt freshman Taylor Rank rushed for 101 yards against FAU earlier this season. Syvelle Newton's top rushing game is 94 yards against Ole Miss in 2004. The last USC quarterback to rush for 100 yards in a game was Corey Jenkins (101) against Georgia on Sept. 14, 2002.
MAYBE BY LAND, BUT NOT BY AIR: The Gamecock defense has been stout against the pass this season. Opponents have completed just 73-of-157 passes (46.5 percent) for 1032 yards (147.4 yards per game) with nine interceptions. The Gamecocks are 10th in the nation in pass defense efficiency. Here's where the Gamecocks rank nationally in pass defense: PASS DEFENSE Rk. Team YPG 1. Wyoming 120.63 2. Tulsa 121.29 3. Wisconsin 131.13 4. LSU 139.00 5. UConn 143.14 6. Virginia Tech 144.14 7. Rutgers 145.00 8. South Carolina 147.43
BREAKING DOWN BENNETT: All-America cornerback candidate Fred Bennett serves as the leader on the defense. With 28 starts under his belt, Bennett has made more starts than the next two defensive players (Stanley Doughty and Chris Hampton 12 each) have combined. Of the four returning defensive starters, Bennett is the lone regular starter this year. Mike West has moved to receiver, Doughty has been a part-time starter and Jordin Lindsey is working with the second team.
BENNETT BREAK-UPS: Fred Bennett is fourth in the SEC in passes defended with nine, including a pair of interceptions. The senior from Manning, S.C. who picked off three passes a year ago has nine career interceptions. With a big finish, he could push for the school record of 14 career interceptions, held by Bo Davies (1969-71). Bennett is looking to follow in the footsteps of other recent standout USC defensive backs, including Dunta Robinson, Sheldon Brown, Ko Simpson and Johnathan Joseph, who took their skills to the NFL.
TWO TIMES THREE: Fred Bennett is just one of three defensive backs with a pair of interceptions this season. Safeties Chris Hampton and Stoney Woodson each have picked off two passes as well. Curtis Rice, Carlos Thomas and Captain Munnerlyn each have one.
FRESHMAN RUSH: True freshman Eric Norwood is quickly making a name for himself as a pass rusher. He leads the team with 4.0 sacks and is third on the squad with 6.0 tackles for loss. He has the most sacks for Carolina since George Gause had 5.0 in 2004.
TWIN KILLINGS: The Brinkley brothers, linebacker Jasper and defensive end Casper, have made their presence felt. Jasper is the team leader with 51 tackles, including 41 solo stops, while Casper (the SEC defensive lineman of the week against Vanderbilt) is fourth on the squad with 24 tackles, including 13 solos. They have combined for 75 tackles, cindluding 13 tackles for loss (6.5 each). Jasper ranks ninth in the SEC with an average of 7.3 tackles per game. Both are junior college transfers from Georgia Military College. Jasper arrived at USC in January, while Casper was a summer arrival.
SUCCOP SUCCESS: Sophomore punter Ryan Succop has proven to be a worthy weapon in the special teams arena. He is averaging 44.4 yards per punt, which ranks third in the SEC. The Gamecocks are second in the nation in net punting, averaging 41.72 yards per punt, ranking behind New Mexico State (41.95). Succop owns a long punt of 58 yards.
HERE'S THE KICKER: Ryan Succop also handles the placekicking chores for the Gamecocks. He has hit on 9-of-10 field goal attempts, including a career-long 55-yarder against Vanderbilt and missing only from 51 yards when he bounced it off the left upright against Georgia. He was named the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week following his effort in the season-opening win at Mississippi State. Here are the nation's top field goal percentage leaders (minimum 10 attempts):
Rk. Player, Team FGM-FGA Pct.
1. Garrett Hartley, Oklahoma 13-14 .929
2. Patrick Shadle, Syracuse 12-13 .923
3. Arthur Carmody, Louisville 11-12 .917
4. Ryan Succop, South Carolina 9-10 .900
5. Mario Danelo, Southern Calif. 9-10 .900
6. Gary Cismesia, Florida State 9-10 .900
7. Louie Sakoda, Utah 9-10 .900
8. Brian Jackson, Ball State 9-10 .900
9. Justin Medlock, UCLA 15-17 .882
10. Garrett Rivas, Michigan 12-14 .857
FIRST COME, FIRST SERVED: Since Steve Spurrier's arrival, the Gamecocks are 7-0 in SEC action when they score first and 1-5 when the opponents score first. Overall, they are 11-2 when tallying the game's first points and are 1-5 when the opponents score first. The lone USC win when their have opponents score first? Last week at Vanderbilt.
NO AARP CARDS NEEDED HERE: The Gamecocks have just six seniors on the squad that came into the program as scholarship players. Only two - center Chris White and tight end Andy Boyd - are in their fifth-year in the program. The four-year players are quarterback Syvelle Newton, wide receiver Noah Whiteside and cornerback Fred Bennett, while safety Brandon Isaac came to USC via the junior college route. Of those six, Boyd has been sidelined most of the year with a shoulder injury, Whiteside has seen very limited duty and Isaac is redshirting while recovering from shoulder surgery. Only Kentucky and Florida State have as few of seniors that entered their programs on scholarship.
WE'LL TAKE THE BALL: In a rare occurance, the Gamecocks won the coin toss at Vanderbilt and elected to defer to the second half. It was just the second time since Head Coach Steve Spurrier took over at South Carolina that the Gamecocks have opened the game on defense. The only previous occurance came against Alabama in 2005. The Gamecocks have scored on their opening drive three times - putting seven points on the board via touchdown passes versus Central Florida and against Missouri in 2005 and against Florida Atlantic in 2006.
PLAYING OT: The Gamecocks have played just one overtime game in its history, falling to Tennessee by a 23-20 margin in Knoxville on Sept. 27, 2003. Every other SEC team has played at least three overtime games since the rule was established in 1996.
BICENTENNIAL MAN: Steve Spurrier recorded his 200th career win as a head coach at Kentucky on Oct. 7. He owns a 201-86-2 mark in all games, including stints in college - Duke (20-13-1), Florida (122-27-1) and South Carolina (11-7); the USFL - Tampa Bay (35-19); and the NFL - Washington (12-20). The win over FAU earlier this season marked the 200th game as a collegiate head coach for the head ball coach. He owns a 154-47-2 mark through the first 202 collegiate contests, a .764 winning clip. He ranks ninth among active coaches in wins and in winning percentage.
EARNING THEIR KEEP: Prior to the start of the season, Head Coach Steve Spurrier placed five former walk-ons on scholarship. They include quarterback Brett Nichols, short snapper Scott Morgan, offensive guard Thomas Coleman, offensive guard Seth Edwards and linebacker Greg Wright. Over the past two seasons, Coach Spurrier has rewarded nine walk-on players with scholarships.
GAME CAPTAINS: Carolina selects game captains for each contest. Here are those game captains: Mississippi State: Chris White (center), Thomas Coleman (right guard) and Fred Bennett (cornerback). Georgia: Cory Boyd (tailback), Jasper Brinkley (linebacker) and Scott Morgan (deep snapper). Wofford: Syvelle Newton (quarterback), Ryan Brown (linebacker) and Ryan Succop (kicker). Florida Atlantic: Sidney Rice (wide receiver), Casper Brinkley (defensive end) and Yvan Banag (safety). Auburn: Sidney Rice (wide receiver), Fred Bennett (cornerback) and Jasper Brinkley (linebacker). Kentucky: Syvelle Newton (quarterback), Ryan Succop (kicker) and Jordin Lindsey (defensive end). Vanderbilt: Fred Bennett (cornerback), Ike Crofoot (holder/snapper) and Chris White (center).
A LITTLE HISTORY: This is the 113th season of college football at the USC, dating back to 1892. The university did not field a team in either 1893 or 1906. This is the 100th consecutive year in which USC has competed on the gridiron. Carolina owns an all-time record of 512-514-44. The school's only league title came in 1969 when it went 6-0 to win the ACC crown.
NEW DECADE, DIFFERENT RESULTS: The Gamecocks have posted a 45-33 record since the calendar turned to 2000. The 45 wins from 2000-2006 is four more than the 41 victories posted in the entire decade of the `90s. Carolina's most victories in any decade is 63, set from 1980-89.
BETTER OF LATE: After the 1998 and `99 seasons saw South Carolina win just once in 22 tries, the Gamecocks have turned the corner. Since the start of the 2000 season, USC has logged an overall record of 45-33. The 40 wins from 2000-2005 was just one win shy of the best six-year stretch in school history. The Gamecocks won 41 times from 1979-1984.
UP NEXT: Carolina will enjoy another SEC home game as the Arkanas Razorbacks will make their way to Columbia on Saturday, Nov. 4. The Hogs lead the all-time series, 8-6, but the Gamecocks have won each of the last two meetings, posting a 35-32 win at Williams-Brice Stadium in 2004, then coming away with a 14-10 victory in Fayetteville last season.
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