Game day notes: USC vs. SC State
The Gamecocks come in flying high after knocking off No. 4 Ole Miss last Thursday, 16-10, while the Bulldogs aim to stay undefeated after their 27-10 win against Winston-Salem State on Saturday. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN Classic.
• This is the second meeting between South Carolina and South Carolina State. Carolina won the previous meeting on Sept. 15, 2007 in Columbia by a 38-3 score.
• Senior linebacker Eric Norwood set the school record for career sacks with his 27th and 28th against Ole Miss. He is now tied for eighth in SEC history in the category. Norwood also has 49.5 career tackles for loss; he is one away from entering the league's top 10 in that category as well.
• Junior DT Travian Robertson will miss the rest of the season after suffering a torn ACL in the win over Ole Miss. He is the second defensive starter to be lost for the year, joining LB Rodney Paulk, who tore his ACL in the win at NC State on Sept. 3.
• The Gamecocks' victory over No. 4 Ole Miss in their last game was the program's first against a top-five team at Williams-Brice Stadium and just the second overall. It also gave Carolina its 64th win of the 2000s, making this the winningest decade in school history.
• South Carolina is 530-531-44 in its 116th year of intercollegiate football. A win would get Carolina back to .500 for its football-playing history.
COCKS AND BULLDOGS
This is the second meeting all-time between the University of South Carolina and South Carolina State University in football. The Gamecocks won the only previous meeting by a 38-3 margin on Sept. 15, 2007, at Williams-Brice Stadium.
HBC VS. PALMETTO STATE
South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier is 18-6 against teams within the Palmetto State. He is 10-1 against South Carolina, 2-0 against The Citadel and Wofford, 1-0 against both Wofford and South Carolina State and 2-5 versus Clemson.
GETTING BACK TO .500
In its 116th year of intercollegiate football, South Carolina is now 530-531-44 all-time and could get back to .500 overall with a victory over South Carolina State on Saturday.
With the win over Ole Miss, South Carolina has made the 2000s the winningest decade in school history with 64 wins since 2000. They surpassed the mark held by the 1980s Gamecocks that rolled up 63 victories, including 10 by the 1984 "Black Magic" team.
South Carolina State head coach Buddy Pough is certainly no stranger to Williams-Brice Stadium. Prior to taking over the Bulldog program in 2002, Pough spent three seasons as the running backs coach at South Carolina under Lou Holtz. He was part of the Gamecocks' back-to-back Outback Bowl appearances in 2000 and 2001.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET
Blake Mitchell threw three touchdowns and No. 17 South Carolina defeated South Carolina State 38-3 on Sept. 15, 2007, to make the Gamecocks 3-0 for the first time in six years. South Carolina won its sixth consecutive game and the defense didn't allow a touchdown for the second straight. The numbers looked strong for South Carolina. Mitchell finished 14-for-21 for 147 yards. Cory Boyd (132) and Mike Davis (102) went over 100 yards rushing, but the Gamecocks' offense looked lost for a half against the Bulldogs (1-2). Mitchell had three interceptions and a fumble to go with his touchdown throws. Backup Tommy Beecher added an interception and a fumble of his own. Gamecock coach Steve Spurrier chose to run the ball much of the second half. And that's when South Carolina finally put away its Championship Subdivision rivals. Davis rushed for 43 yards and finished a 91-yard TD drive with a 9-yard catch from Mitchell. Two series later, Boyd broke free for a 29-yard scoring run and the Gamecocks were up 31-3. Spurrier called only two passes in the third quarter. Then again, he didn't have to get creative the way South Carolina's defense played. The Gamecocks picked off three passes of their own, lineman Nathan Pepper returning one 19-yards for a touchdown to put them ahead for good, 7-3. South Carolina State had just 46 yards passing through three quarters. The Bulldogs got an early chance to make an impact when Markee Hamlin got Mitchell's first interception to set South Carolina State up on the Gamecocks 12. But penalties for an illegal snap and illegal procedure pushed them back and they took a 3-0 lead on Aaron Haire's 37-yard field goal. Pepper went 19 yards to the end zone with Cleveland McCoy's interception to put the Gamecocks ahead 7-3. Ryan Succop added a 40-yard field goal and Mitchell hit Kenny McKinley with a 12-yard touchdown pass on the Gamecocks next two series to increase the lead to 17-3. The defense was again above average. It didn't give up a touchdown at Georgia in South Carolina's 16-12 win a week earlier and did not yield this time, either. The closest South Carolina State got after its opening drive came in the third quarter after driving to the Gamecock 12, but Darian Stewart recovered Jonathan Woods' fumble to end the threat.
MORE ON SC STATE
South Carolina State went 10-3 in 2008, 8-0 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. SCSU has won 12 straight conference games for the first time since 1981-82. The Bulldogs advanced to the first round of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoffs last season, falling to Appalachian State in the first round. With an enrollment of 4,800 students, South Carolina State's campus in Orangeburg is only 35 miles from Williams-Brice Stadium.
THE HBC AND BIG NUMBERS
• In 20 years as a collegiate coach, Steve Spurrier is 84-3-1 when scoring at least 37 points. The 41-37 loss to Georgia was the first time in the Spurrier era at South Carolina that the Gamecocks lost when scoring 37 points or more; they had won the previous eight such occurrences. In fact, the last time South Carolina lost when scoring 37 points or more was Nov. 1, 2003, when Carolina lost at Ole Miss by a 43-40 score.
• With the 41-37 loss at UGA and the 38-16 win over FAU, it marked only the second time in the Spurrier era that Carolina scored 37 or more points in consecutive outings. The previous time was in 2007, when the Gamecocks downed Mississippi State 38-21 and Kentucky 38-23 in back-to-back weeks.
AGAINST RANKED FOES
South Carolina got its first win over a ranked opponent in its last seven tries with its 16-10 win over Ole Miss on Sept. 24. The Gamecocks are 6-13 under Spurrier against opponents in the top 25. Here's a year-by-year breakdown:
• 2005: Carolina was 2-1 against ranked opponents, knocking off No. 23 Tennessee and No. 12 Florida after losing to No. 9 Georgia.
• 2006: Carolina was 1-5 against ranked opponents with their lone win coming against No. 24 Clemson. They had losses against No. 12 Georgia, No. 2 Auburn, No. 8 Tennessee, No. 12 Arkansas and No. 6 Florida.
• 2007: The Gamecocks were 2-3 against ranked opponents, winning over No. 11 Georgia and No. 8 Kentucky, but falling to No. 2 LSU, No. 17 Florida and No. 15 Clemson.
• 2008: Carolina dropped all three contests against ranked foes, falling to No. 2 Georgia, No. 13 LSU and No. 3 Florida.
• 2009: The Gamecocks are 1-1 against ranked opponents, falling to No. 21 Georgia 41-37 before scoring a huge victory over No. 4 Ole Miss, 16-10.
PLAYING THE BEST
South Carolina has played 33 games in its history against teams ranked in the top-5 in the country, posting a 2-31 record in those contests, including losses in 23 of their last 24 opportunities. They are 1-19 at home against top-5 teams, 1-11 on the road and 0-1 at neutral sites. Carolina got its second all-time win over a top-5 team on Sept. 24, 2009, when it downed No. 4 Ole Miss, 16-10. For the last 28 years, the lone win was a 31-13 win at No. 3 North Carolina on October 24, 1981. Their most recent game against a top-5 team was a 56-6 loss at No. 3 Florida last season. This is the fourth straight year in which Carolina has played at least one top-5 team; two more top-5 opponents loom on the Gamecock slate in No. 1 Florida and No. 3 Alabama.
AND DEFEATING THE BEST
South Carolina's best win over a ranked opponent came in the 1981 season when they knocked off No. 3 North Carolina by a 31-13 score. It's one of only two wins over a top-5 opponent in school history; the other came on Sept. 24, 2009, in a 16-10 victory over No. 4 Ole Miss. Here are the other top wins:
SPEAKING OF THE POLLS...
South Carolina remains outside the top 25, but just barely. Carolina is only three spots outside the AP Top 25 after receiving 154 votes this week. The Gamecocks picked up 92 votes in the USA Today coaches poll, only four spots out of the rankings. Four SEC schools on the 2009 Gamecock slate remain consensus top-25 teams: Florida (1/1), Alabama (3/3), Georgia (18/14) and Ole Miss (21/18). NC State is also receiving votes in the coaches poll. In addition, South Carolina State is ranked 14th in the latest FCS Coaches Poll.
NOTES FROM OLE MISS
• Thursday was the second time in school history for South Carolina to knock off a top-5 team. It was the first-ever victory over a top-5 opponent at Williams-Brice Stadium.
• The win over No. 4 Ole Miss came 21 years to the day after Carolina's previous best win by ranking at Williams-Brice Stadium. On Sept. 24, 1988, the Gamecocks knocked off No. 6 Georgia, 23-10.
• Linebacker Eric Norwood became the all-time leader in sacks at South Carolina with his 27th in the first quarter. He finished the game with 28 for his career, moving into a tie for 8th place all-time in SEC history.
* Norwood's 10-tackle, two-sack, blocked punt performance earned his SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
• All seven Carolina wins over Ole Miss have come by seven points or fewer. Overall, 12 of the 15 contests between USC and Ole Miss have been decided by a touchdown or less.
• Under Steve Spurrier, the Gamecocks are now 6-2 in Thursday night contests.
• The Gamecocks' first offensive play of the third quarter was a 69-yard pass from Stephen Garcia to Moe Brown, the longest pass completion for South Carolina since Sept. 18, 2004, when Syvelle Newton hit Troy Williamson for a 74-yard gain against South Florida.
• Patrick DiMarco scored his third career touchdown in the third quarter; it's his second score on a Thursday night against a top-10 team (the other came in 2007 against No. 8 Kentucky).
• Spencer Lanning was a perfect 3-for-3 on field goals, running his streak of field goals made to nine straight.
NOTES FROM FAU
• The FAU game marked the first time since 2007 that the Gamecocks boasted a 100-yard rusher and a 100-yard receiver in freshman Jarvis Giles (113 yards rushing) and freshman Tori Gurley (100 yards receiving). The last time, it was Cory Boyd and Kenny McKinley turning the trick at Tennessee on Oct. 27, 2007. It's the first time for a pair of freshmen to pull off the feat since Sidney Rice and Mike Davis did it twice during the 2005 season (vs. Clemson and in the Independence Bowl vs. Missouri).
• Sophomore running back Brian Maddox eclipsed his career high in scores in a big way with three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving).
• Moe Brown's 50-yard end-around on the opening play of the game was easily his career-long rush and was the longest Carolina rushing play since Mike Davis also scampered for 50 against NC State last season (8/28).
• Brian Maddox's opening-drive touchdown at the 13:39 mark of the first quarter was the quickest score for a Gamecock team since Nov. 6, 2003, at Arkansas, when Carolina kicked a field goal at the 13:53 mark of the opening period. It was the fastest touchdown by a Gamecock team since Carolina joined the SEC in 1992.
• Ten different Carolina players caught passes against FAU - Tori Gurley (4-100) led the way, followed by Jason Barnes (3-40), Alshon Jeffrey (2-24), Moe Brown (3-20), Scott Spurrier (1-13), Eric Baker (2-10), Dion Lecorn (2-9), Brian Maddox (2-8), Weslye Saunders (1-7) and D.L. Moore (1 for -2).
• Senior Scott Spurrier recorded his first career catch, a 13-yard reception fron Stephen Garcia in the fourth quarter.
NOTES FROM GEORGIA
• Since joining the SEC in 1992, South Carolina is now 7-11 in league openers. Fifteen of those 18 openers have come against Georgia.
• Georgia returned a kickoff for 100 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter. It was the first kickoff return for a touchdown against the Gamecocks since Leodis McKelvin of Troy accomplished the feat on Sept. 24, 2005.
• Georgia scored 31 points in the first half; the last team to do that against the Gamecocks was Auburn on Oct. 1, 2005, in a 48-7 Tiger victory.
• Carolina's 17 points in the first quarter marked the most in an opening period since scoring 17 against South Carolina State on Sept. 15, 2007.
• South Carolina got two points for a Georgia safety in the third quarter when a bad snap on a punt when out of the back of the end zone. It was the first safety for South Carolina since the 2007 Arkansas game.
• Eric Norwood's interception return for a touchdown was his first career pick and third career defensive score; he returned two fumbles for TDs vs. Kentucky in 2007.
• Darian Stewart equaled a career-high with 11 tackles on the night.
• Bryce Sherman got his first two career carries and tallied 27 total yards, including 23 on a long run to end the first half.
NOTES FROM NC STATE
• With the win at NC State, South Carolina snapped a three-game losing streak dating back to the 11th game of the 2008 season. The Gamecocks dropped games to Florida, Clemson and Iowa to end the `08 campaign.
• The Gamecocks held NC State to 133 yards in the game, the lowest total in the Spurrier Era and the lowest since the 1999 season - also NC State (99).
• Brian Maddox's first-quarter touchdown gave the Gamecocks their first lead since the end of last year's Arkansas game, a span of 12-plus quarters.
• NC State's third-quarter field goal snapped a scoreless streak for the Wolfpack against South Carolina that dated back to the fourth quarter of the 1999 contest, a span of just under eight quarters.
NO OPENING JITTERS
With their win at NC State on Sept. 3, the Gamecocks have now won 10 consecutive season-opening games dating back to the 2000 season. The last season-opening loss came at NC State in 1999.
The Gamecocks officially return 12 starters from the 2008 squad (five on offense, six on defense and one specialist). The returning offensive starters are OC Garrett Anderson, WR Jason Barnes, OG Terrence Campbell, FB Patrick DiMarco and OT Jarriel King. The returning defensive starters include DT Ladi Ajiboye, FS Chris Culliver, DE Cliff Matthews, LB Eric Norwood, DT Nathan Pepper and S Darian Stewart. Junior Spencer Lanning is the returning punter and will handle placekicking duties this fall as well.
•Seven Gamecocks made their first career starts in the season opener against NC State: CB Akeem Auguste, CB Stephon Gilmore, SPUR Alonzo Winfield, OG T.J. Johnson, OT Quintin Richardson, WR Tori Gurley and DE Devin Taylor.
• LB Shaq Wilson got his first career start at Georgia on Sept. 12.
• LB Tony Straughter and DB Antonio Allen earned their initial career starts against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 19.
• DL Ladi Ajiboye made his first start of the season against Ole Miss. OL Lemuel Jeanpierre made his first career start at center; it was his 12th start overall with 10 at guard and one on defense.
UNDER COACH SPURRIER
Head coach Steve Spurrier is 31-23 in his five seasons in Columbia. His 31 wins ranks seventh on the school's all-time list, two behind Lou Holtz. He tied the school record for wins (7) in his first season at the helm; tied for the most wins (15) in his first two seasons of any Carolina head coach; recorded the most wins (21) by a Carolina head coach in his first three seasons; and surpassed Warren Giese (25 wins from 1956-59) for the most wins by a coach in his first four seasons on the Carolina sidelines. He has logged a .500 or better record in four straight seasons, the first coach to do that at Carolina since the final four years of the Jim Carlen Era (1978-81). Coach Spurrier is the first coach in Carolina history to take his team to three bowl games in his first four seasons on the sidelines. He also has matched Jim Carlen and Joe Morrison for the most bowl appearances (3) as a Carolina head coach.
WINNING MORE OFTEN
The Gamecocks have posted five consecutive seasons of at least a .500 record, going 6-5 in 2004, 7-5 in 2005, 8-5 in 2006, 6-6 in 2007 and 7-6 in 2008. It's the first time they have accomplished that since 1928-34.
THURSDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
In the Spurrier Era, South Carolina is now 6-2 in Thursday night contests, with four of those six victories coming in season openers. The Gamecocks played two on Thursday nights this season. Carolina opened the 2009 campaign with a 7-3 victory at North Carolina State, then downed No. 4 Ole Miss in Columbia, 16-10, on Sept. 24. South Carolina is the only SEC team scheduled to play in multiple weeknight contests this year; Alabama and Auburn will play each other on Friday, Nov. 27, in the only remaining weekday contest involving an SEC school.
Steve Spurrier made numerous changes to his coaching staff in the off-season, promoting Ellis Johnson to assistant head coach-defense and bringing in Jay Graham (running backs/asst. special teams), Jeep Hunter (tight ends/asst. special teams), G.A. Mangus (quarterbacks), Lorenzo Ward (defensive coordinator), Eric Wolford (offensive line/running game coordinator) and Craig Fitzgerald (strength and conditioning).
The Gamecocks averaged 80,529 fans for their seven home games in 2008. That average ranked 17th in Division I football, up two spots from the 2007 season. Seven of the top 20 schools in home attendance hail from the SEC. For the home opener against Florida Atlantic, South Carolina had 72,017 fans in attendance. Five days later, 74,724 filled the stands on a Thursday night for the historic victory over No. 4 Ole Miss.
PIPELINE TO THE NFL
South Carolina tied for having the second-most players selected in the 2009 NFL Draft of any school in the nation, matching Oregon State and Ohio State for that honor behind Southern California. Selected were:
• Jared Cook (3rd round, Tennessee)
• Kenny McKinley (5th round, Denver)
• Jasper Brinkley (5th round, Minnesota)
• Jamon Meredith (5th round, Green Bay)
• Captain Munnerlyn (7th round, Carolina)
• Stoney Woodson (7th round, N.Y. Giants)
• Ryan Succop (7th round, Kansas City)
The Gamecocks have played just two overtime games in their history, both at Tennessee. They dropped a 23-20 decision in Knoxville on Sept. 27, 2003, then fell by a 27-24 score on Oct. 27, 2007, also at Neyland Stadium. Every other SEC team has played at least three overtime games since the rule was established in 1996.
SERVING OUR COUNTRY
Deep snapper Matthew Grooms joined the Gamecocks after serving as a corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps for four years as a mechanic, included a six-month stint in Iraq. Grooms, a junior, is the oldest player on the squad, as he turned 26 on July 8. Grooms is a native of McColl, S.C., where he played for Marlboro County. Walk-on freshman linebacker Matthew Ansley, a member of the Army Reserves, spent 18 months in Iraq, working as a gunner for convoy security and route clearance.
COMING IN EARLY
The Gamecocks welcomed in three scholarship players who graduated from high school in December and went through spring drills for the first time in 2009 in Jarvis Giles, Stephon Gilmore and DeVonte Holloman. Over the past four seasons, the Gamecocks have seen nine players arrive on campus earlier than the norm. Clark Gaston did so in 2006, while Stephen Garcia and Travian Robertson arrived in January 2007. Jay Spearman, C.C. Whitlock and Shaq Wilson all went through spring drills in 2008 after graduating from high school in the previous December.
IN THE CLASSROOM
The Gamecocks had 24 players named to the 2008 SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll. Included were Pierre Andrews, Yvan Banag, Tommy Beecher, Ryan Broadhead, Patrick DiMarco, Stephen Flint, Foxy Foxworth, Marque Hall, Lemuel Jeanpierre, Alex McGrath, Jamon Meredith, Travian Robertson, Hardee Sanders, Chris Smelley, Cedrick Snead, Justin Sorensen, Nate Spurrier, Scott Spurrier, Ryan Succop, Charles Turner, Chris Vaughn, Addison Williams, Stoney Woodson and Greg Wright. The Gamecocks also posted the best GPA in history during the 2009 spring semester with a 2.669.
South Carolina celebrates three major anniversaries during the 2009 season. This year marks the 75th year of competition in what is now Williams-Brice Stadium. The 80,250-seat structure on George Rogers Drive held its first game on Oct. 6, 1934, as South Carolina defeated VMI, 22-6. It's also the 40th anniversary of South Carolina's only conference championship as the 1969 Gamecocks won the Atlantic Coast Conference title under head coach Paul Dietzel by going 5-0 in league play. This year is also the 25th anniversary of the 1984 "Black Magic" team that posted the winningest season in school history, going 10-2 under head coach Joe Morrison and rising as high as No. 2 in the polls.
BY LAND OR BY AIR
The Gamecocks threw the ball 53 times against Georgia, the most passes attempted in the Steve Spurrier Era at South Carolina, completing 31 for 313 yards. They came back against Florida Atlantic and rushed for 287 yards, the most in the Spurrier Era, surpassing the previous high mark by 64 yards.
The Gamecocks have received solid performances from several freshmen this season. Defensive end Devin Taylor, a redshirt freshman from Beaufort, has started all four games and was the SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week for his efforts in the opener at NC State. True freshman tailback Jarvis Giles from Tampa became the first Gamecock frosh to rush for over 100 yards since 2006 when he went for 113 against FAU, earning SEC Freshman of the Week accolades. True freshman and Rock Hill, S.C. native Stephon Gilmore has started all four games at cornerback and has intercepted a pass, forced a fumble and recovered another fumble. He also has a sack among his 16 tackles. Redshirt freshman wide receiver Tori Gurley is the Gamecocks' top receiver. He has caught 16 passes for 240 yards in four games, including a four-catch, 100-yard performance against FAU. Redshirt freshman T.J. Johnson from Aynor, S.C. has started all four games at right offensive guard.
South Carolina has just nine players on its roster who are seniors. Of those, Lemuel Jeanpierre, Nathan Pepper and Gerrod Sinclar are fifth-year seniors, while Garrett Anderson, Moe Brown, Eric Norwood and Darian Stewart are in their fourth year. Former walk-ons John Guerry and Scott Spurrier earned scholarships during fall practice. With only nine seniors, the Gamecocks are tied with Duke for the second-fewest seniors in the country. Boise State has the fewest with four.
O CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN...
Although defensive back Captain Munnerlyn has taken his talents to the NFL, the Gamecocks have no shortage of leadership. Four captains were elected for the first time in the Spurrier era, two of them on the defensive side of the ball. Senior LB Eric Norwood and junior DE Cliff Matthews were the two defensive selections, with senior WR Moe Brown and junior FB Patrick DiMarco picked from the offensive side of the ball.
EARNING THEIR KEEP
On August 18, coach Steve Spurrier announced that several walk-ons had been awarded scholarships for the 2009-10 school year. The list includes seniors John Guerry and Scott Spurrier, junior Blake Baxley, and sophomores Stephen Flint, Cedrick Snead, Brandan Davis and Zac Brindise.
The Gamecocks come in all shapes and sizes. The tallest player on the roster is Clifton Geathers, who checks in at 6-8 this fall. He is followed closely by his backup, Devin Taylor. The shortest players are Cedrick Snead, Bryce Sherman and Scott Spurrier, all listed at 5-6. The Gamecocks have eight players that tip the scale at 300 pounds or better, including seven offensive linemen. Rokevious Watkins is the heaviest player on the squad at 340 pounds, followed by Jarriel King at 312. Kevin Young (310), Heath Batchelor (308), Garrett Anderson (307), Seaver Brown (303), Nathan Pepper (300) and Steven Singleton (300) round out those at three bills. Scott Spurrier (160) and C.C. Whitlock (173) are the only returning players listed under 175 pounds. Newcomers Jimmy Legree (170), DeAngelo Smith (170), Bryce Sherman (155), Brandan Davis (175) and Marty Markett (170) all tip the scales at 175 or less.
• Junior DT Travian Robertson tore his ACL in the win over Ole Miss and will miss the rest of the season.
• Junior linebacker Rodney Paulk suffered a season-ending ACL tear in his right knee in the season-opening win at NC State. It's the second straight year that a knee injury has sidelined him early in the season.
Here is a rundown of the various awards and honors earned by the Gamecocks during the 2009 season...
• Devin Taylor - SEC Defensive Player of the Week (Week 1 vs. NC State)
• Jarvis Giles - SEC Freshman of the Week (Week 3 vs. Florida Atlantic)
• Eric Norwood - SEC Defensive Player of the Week (Week 4 vs. Ole Miss)
The Gamecocks wrap up their four-game homestand as SEC Eastern Division rival Kentucky visits on Saturday, Oct. 10. Kickoff is set for 12:30 at Williams-Brice Stadium, and will be televised on FSN.
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