Game day notes: USC vs. Florida
It will be the fifth time South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier faces his alma mater and the team he coached for 12 seasons. He is 1-3 in those contests. Last season, the Gators rolled to a 56-6 victory in Gainesville.
• South Carolina will be wearing special uniforms today in conjuction with the Wounded Warrior Project (more info on Page 2).
• Head coach Steve Spurrier is 1-3 all-time against his alma mater and former employer.
• Stephen Garcia has 2,421 passing yards on the season, ranking him sixth all-time at South Carolina in single-season passing yards. He is also seventh in single-season completions with 196.
• A win today would give Coach Spurrier his 106th conference win as an SEC head coach, tying him with Johnny Vaught (106) for second all-time, trailing only Bear Bryant (159).
• Senior linebacker and All-America candidate Eric Norwood now has his own home on the web. Visit ewood40.com for the latest on the Gamecock captain.
A South Carolina win over Florida would...
* Be the first win in school history over a team ranked No. 1 in the nation.
* Guarantee a winning season for the second straight year and the fourth time in the five-year Spurrier era.
* Give coach Steve Spurrier his 106th career conference win as an SEC head coach, tying him with Johnny Vaught for second all-time. Only Bear Bryant (159) has more.
* Guarantee a .500 conference record for the second straight year with their fourth SEC victory. The Gamecocks have finished .500 or better in SEC play only six times since joining the league in 1992.
* Give the Gamecocks 28 wins over the last four years, tying the school record for wins in a four-year period. The Gamecocks also won 28 from 1987-90 (8, 8, 6, 6) and from 2005-08 (7, 8, 6, 7).
* Run the Gamecocks' winning streak at Williams-Brice Stadium to eight wins overall and six in a row against SEC opponents.
GAMECOCKS AND GATORS
This is the 30th meeting between South Carolina and Florida in a series that dates back to 1911. The Gators lead the all-time series, 22-4-3. Florida is 9-4-1 against the Gamecocks in games played in Columbia. Florida had its 14-game winning streak over the Gamecocks snapped in 2005 in Columbia in a 30-22 Carolina win. It was Carolina's first win in the series since Nov. 4, 1939, a 6-0 decision in Columbia. Florida rolled to a 56-6 win in Gainesville last season. The Gators also prevailed in the teams' last meeting at Williams-Brice Stadium, a 51-31 win in 2007.
THE HBC AND FLORIDA
South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier, the 1966 Heisman Trophy winner for the University of Florida and head coach for the Gators from 1990-2001, is 1-3 all-time when facing his alma mater. He defeated the Gators his first year at Carolina by a 30-22 margin in 2005, but has lost the last three meetings.
USUALLY A WINNER
Steve Spurrier has almost always been on the winning sideline when Florida and Carolina get together. He is 11-3 in these contests, including a perfect 10-0 when facing the Gamecocks when he patrolled the Gator sidelines. He has dropped three of four games against his alma mater as Carolina's head coach.
LAST TIME IN COLUMBIA
The Gamecocks had no answer for Florida's Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Tim Tebow, who rushed for 120 yards and five TDs and threw for 304 yards and two scores, as the 17th-ranked Gators outscored Carolina, 51-31 on Nov. 10, 2007 in Columbia. USC overcame a fumble and a blocked punt which gave Florida an early 13 point advantage by scoring two first-quarter touchdowns to take a 14-13 lead. However, the Gamecock defense could not slow down a Florida offense that rolled up 537 yards. Blake Mitchell completed 26-of-42 passes for 316 yards and one touchdown to lead Carolina.
LAST GAME: ARKANSAS
Ryan Mallett went 23-of-27 for 329 yards to lead Arkansas to a 33-16 victory over South Carolina on Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark. Mallett was 12-of-13 in the second half and the Razorbacks scored 23 unanswered points to finish the game. Stephen Garcia passed for a career-high 327 yards and a touchdown, an 80-yard strike to Alshon Jeffery on the first play of the second half. Garcia also rushed for a touchdown on the day. Jeffery finished with 116 yards on five catches.
•Of the eleven 300-yard passing performances by Southeastern Conference quarterbacks this season, Gamecock sophomore Stephen Garcia has had four of them. Below is a list of 300-yard passing games this season: 1. Stephen Garcia, SC - 4 2. Ryan Mallett, ARK - 3 3. Jonathan Crompton, UT - 2 4. Joe Cox, UGA - 1 Jevan Snead, MISS - 1
• There have been a total of 38 all-time games in which a Gamecock signal-caller has passed for 300 yards or more; Garcia is responsible for four of those. Here is the list: 1. Todd Ellis - 9 2. Steve Taneyhill - 8 3. Blake Mitchell - 5 4. Stephen Garcia - 4 5. Tommy Suggs - 3 6. Steve Fuller - 2 Anthony Wright - 2 8. Chris Smelley - 1 Syvelle Newton - 1 Bill Troup - 1 Dondrial Pinkins - 1 Phil Petty - 1
• Garcia is only the third different quarterback in Carolina history to have four 300-yard games in one season, joining Steve Taneyhill (6 in 1995) and Todd Ellis (5 in 1987).
GOING FOR 100
The Gamecocks have had three 100-yard rushing games this season, all by freshmen - Kenny Miles against Kentucky (100) and Vanderbilt (102) and Jarvis Giles versus Florida Atlantic (113). Last season, Mike Davis logged the only 100-yard rushing game, going for 101 against NC State in the season opener. The Gamecocks also have had five 100-yard receiving games this year - Tori Gurley against FAU (100), Moe Brown versus South Carolina State (100), and Alshon Jeffery vs. Kentucky (138), Vanderbilt (161) and Arkansas (116).
When Stephen Garcia threw for 312 yards, Kenny Miles rushed for 102 yards and Alshon Jeffery logged 161 receiving yards against Vanderbilt on Oct. 24, they became the first Gamecock trio to go 300-100-100 in a game since September 28, 1996 when three future NFL players - Anthony Wright (351 yards passing), Duce Staley (100 yards rushing) and Marcus Robinson (189 yards receiving) accomplished the feat in a 14-10 loss to Mississippi State at Williams-Brice Stadium.
IN THE CLASSROOM
Not only is South Carolina having success on the playing field, the Carolina student-athletes have gotten it done in the classroom as well. South Carolina has led the SEC in student-athletes on the academic honor roll for five consecutive semesters. They placed 24 football players on the 2008 SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll. In the spring of 2009, Steve Spurrier's Gamecock squad posted its highest team GPA on record. Eric Norwood was honored at the spring game as the Harris Pastides Scholar-Athlete Award winner for football, while Kenny Miles, Addison Williams and Scott Spurrier were honored as recipients of the Harold White GPA Award. As part of its commitment towards academic success, the Gamecocks will move into the Dodie Anderson Academic Enrichment Center in the spring of 2010. "The Dodie," named for Dolores F. Anderson of Greer, S.C., is a three-story, 40,000-square foot center located in the Roost footprint.
Senior linebacker Eric Norwood was named to the first-team Midseason All-America teams by Phil Steele, Sports Illustrated and Sporting News. In addition, he was named to Steele's 2009 Midseason All-SEC first team. Defensive end Cliff Matthews and punter Spencer Lanning earned spots on the All-SEC second team, while safety Chris Culliver was a third-team All-SEC selection.
WINNING MORE OFTEN
With the win over Vanderbilt, the Gamecocks guaranteed themselves at least a .500 regular-season record for the sixth straight year. Prior to this season, the Gamecocks went 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.
STREAKING AT HOME
•The Gamecocks have posted seven straight wins at Williams-Brice Stadium, defeating Tennessee and Arkansas last season and topping Florida Atlantic, Ole Miss, South Carolina State, Kentucky and Vanderbilt to start the 2009 campaign. The last time the Gamecocks won at least seven straight games at home was from the 1986-88 seasons when they posted 13 straight home wins. That streak, oddly enough, started following a loss to Florida State, then was snapped with another loss to the Seminoles.
•For the first time ever, South Carolina has defeated five straight SEC opponents at home. The streak started with a win over Tennessee on Nov. 1, 2008, followed by a win over Arkansas the next week. The streak continued in 2009 with wins over Ole Miss, Kentucky and Vanderbilt. A win over Florida on Nov. 14 would make the Gamecocks undefeated in SEC play at home during a season for the first time ever.
Head coach Steve Spurrier and his staff must be coming up with some key halftime adjustments or inspirational speeches, as the Gamecocks have come out like gangbusters in the third quarter this season. Carolina has outscored its opponents by an 80-39 margin in the third stanza, easily their highest scoring quarter and their fewest points allowed quarter. The Gamecocks have outscored their opponents by nine points this season, but have a 41-point edge in the third quarter.
South Carolina has just nine players on its roster who are seniors. Of those, Lemuel Jeanpierre, Nathan Pepper and Gerrod Sinclair 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.
The Gamecocks have received solid performances from several freshmen this season. Defensive end Devin Taylor, a redshirt freshman from Beaufort, started the first five 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. Three weeks later, redshirt freshman Kenny Miles hit the century mark with exactly 100 yards against Kentucky; he pulled off the feat again with 102 against Vanderbilt. He leads the team in rushing with 488 yards on the year. True freshman and Rock Hill, S.C., native Stephon Gilmore has started all 10 games at cornerback and has intercepted a pass, forced a fumble and recovered another fumble. He also has two sacks among his 38 tackles, and is averaging 11.7 yards per punt return. Redshirt freshman wide receiver Tori Gurley is the Gamecocks' third-leading receiver. He has caught 26 passes for 376 yards in 10 games, including a four-catch, 100-yard performance against FAU. Redshirt freshman T.J. Johnson from Aynor, S.C. has started all 10 games at right offensive guard. And true freshman Alshon Jeffery had a big coming-out party against Kentucky with a seven-catch, 138-yard performance that saw him score three touchdowns, earn SEC Freshman of the Week honors. He then bested that feat with an eight-catch, 161-yard performance and the game-winning TD in the win over Vanderbilt, followed by an 116-yard performance at Arkansas that included an 80-yard touchdown reception. Carolina lists 17 freshmen on its two-deep.
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).
• Alshon Jeffery - SEC Freshman of the Week (Week 6 vs. Kentucky).
• Eric Norwood - Rotary Lombardi Semifinalist (10/14).
• Eric Norwood - Phil Steele's Midseason All-America first team (10/15).
• Eric Norwood, Cliff Matthews, Spencer Lanning, Chris Culliver - Phil Steele's Midseason All-SEC Team (10/15).
• Eric Norwood - Sporting News Midseason All-America first team (10/21).
• Eric Norwood - Lott Trophy quarterfinalist (10/21).
• Eric Norwood - Sports Illustrated Midseason All-America first team (10/22).
• Spencer Lanning - Ray Guy Watch List (10/30).
• Eric Norwood - Bednarik Award semifinalist (11/4).
• Spencer Lanning - Lou Groza semifinalist (Nov. 9).
UNDER COACH SPURRIER
Head coach Steve Spurrier is 34-26 in his five seasons in Columbia. His 34 wins puts him sixth on the school's all-time list, one ahead of 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.
AGAINST RANKED FOES
South Carolina got its first win over a ranked opponent in its last seven tries with its 16-10 win over No. 4 Ole Miss on Sept. 24. The Gamecocks are 6-14 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 1-2 against ranked foes, falling to No. 21 Georgia 41-37 before scoring a huge victory over No. 4 Ole Miss, 16-10. They then dropped a 20-6 decision on the road against No. 2 Alabama.
PLAYING THE BEST
South Carolina has played 34 games in its history against teams ranked in the top-5 in the country, posting a 2-32 record in those contests. They are 1-19 at home against top-5 teams, 1-12 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, snapping a 23-game losing streak. Three weeks later, the Gamecocks lost at No. 2 Alabama by a 20-6 score. The lone other win was a 31-13 win at No. 3 North Carolina on October 24, 1981. This is the fourth straight year in which Carolina has played at least one top-5 team; the Gamecocks have faced then-No. 4 Ole Miss and then-No. 2 Alabama with No. 1 Florida on tap for this week.
The Gamecocks officially returned 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.
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 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.
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.
O CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN...
Season captains were elected for the first time in the Spurrier era. Senior LB Eric Norwood and junior DE Cliff Matthews were the two defensive selections, with senior WR Moe Brown and junior FB Patrick DiMarco were picked from the offensive side of the ball.
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), 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.
• Junior defensive end Cliff Matthews suffered a sprained shoulder in the loss at Tennessee and missed last week's game at Arkansas. His status for this week is questionable.
• Junior OL Jarriel King (concussion) did not travel to Saturday's contest at Arkansas. His status for this week's game is questionable.
With six wins, South Carolina is bowl-eligible for the fifth-straight season; the Gamecocks have played in bowl games three of the last four seasons. The SEC has agreements to send nine of its member institutions to postseason bowl games following the 2009 season. The winner of the SEC Championship Game will automatically participate in the Bowl Championship Series comprised of the Sugar, Rose, Orange and Fiesta Bowls and the BCS National Championship Game. The Capital One will make its pick following the BCS selections. The Outback and Cotton Bowls are next, followed by the Chick-fil-A Bowl. The Liberty and Music City Bowls will pick sixth and seventh, not in any specific order. The Independence Bowl has the eighth selection, while the Papajohns.com Bowl will pick ninth.
With the win over Ole Miss, South Carolina made the 2000s the winningest decade in school history with their 64th win since 2000; that total now stands at 67. They surpassed the mark held by the 1980s Gamecocks that rolled up 63 victories, including 10 by the 1984 "Black Magic" team.
The Gamecocks will close out the 2009 regular season with the annual Palmetto State "Braggin' Rights" showdown with the archrival Clemson Tigers on Saturday, Nov. 28, at Williams-Brice Stadium. Kickoff time and television broadcast info are TBA.
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