Game day notes: USC vs. Clemson
The Gamecocks took advantage of their only open date last week after fighting to the finish with the No. 1 Florida Gators on Nov. 14 before falling 24-14. Clemson, meanwhile, has won six in a row and clinched its first ACC Atlantic Division title with a 34-21 victory over Virginia last Saturday.
• This is the 107th meeting between the Gamecocks and the Tigers, the most-played rivalry for either team. Clemson leads the all-time series, 65-37-4 and has won the last two meetings.
• Stephen Garcia has 2,607 passing yards on the season, ranking him fourth all-time at South Carolina in single-season passing yards. He is also fourtth in single-season completions with 213.
• Nine Gamecock seniors will be honored in pregame ceremonies on Saturday: OC Garrett Anderson, WR Moe Brown, LB John Guerry, OL Lemuel Jeanpierre, LB Eric Norwood, DT Nathan Pepper, LB Gerrod Sinclair, WR Scott Spurrrier and DB Darian Stewart. The Gamecocks are tied with Duke for the second-smallest senior class in the country with just nine seniors.
A South Carolina win over Clemson would...
* Snap a two-game losing streak to the Tigers and a three-game skid against Clemson at home.
* Snap a three-game losing streak (at Tennessee, at Arkansas, vs. Florida).
* Give the Gamecocks their second win of the season over a ranked opponent (#4 Ole Miss).
* Guarantee a winning season for the second straight year and the fourth time in the five-year Spurrier era.
* Give South Carolina a 6-1 record at home this season, their best since 1988 (also 6-1).
* 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).
GAMECOCKS AND TIGERS
This is the 107th meeting between the two Palmetto State rivals in a series that dates back to 1896. The teams have met every year since 1909. Clemson holds the all-time lead in the series, 65-37, while four games have ended in a tie. The Tigers hold a 49-29-3 advantage when the game has been played in Columbia and are 16-8-1 in games played in Clemson. CU has won six of the last seven contests and 10 of the last 12 meetings, including a 31-14 victory in last year's contest at Clemson. The last time in Columbia, the Tigers escaped with a 23-21 win in 2007. For the fourth time in five years, at least one team is ranked heading into the season finale.
THE HBC AND CLEMSON
South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier owns a 2-5 record when facing the Clemson Tigers. Coach Spurrier was 1-2 against the Tigers as the head coach at Duke University. Clemson was ranked seventh in 1987 when it defeated the Blue Devils, 17-10, in Clemson. The Tigers were ranked 11th in 1988 when they posted a 49-17 home win over the 22nd-ranked Blue Devils. Spurrier and a 1-3 Duke team knocked off the seventh-ranked Tigers by a 21-17 score in Durham in 1989. Clemson edged 19th-ranked South Carolina, 13-9 in 2005 in Columbia in Coach Spurrier's first season with the Gamecocks, then the Gamecocks returned the favor in 2006 in Clemson, knocking off the 24th-ranked Tigers by a 31-28 margin. In 2007, it was No. 21 Clemson pulling out a 23-21 win on the game's final play, and the Tigers won 31-14 last season in Clemson.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET
James Davis scored three touchdowns and Clemson beat South Carolina for the sixth time in seven seasons, 31-14, on a cold, rainy afternoon at Clemson on Nov. 29, 2008. South Carolina quarterback Chris Smelley threw four interceptions, three of which led to Tiger touchdowns. Clemson jumped out to a 24-0 lead, but the Gamecocks cut it to 24-14 on touchdown catches by Patrick DiMarco and Weslye Saunders. But the Tigers would put it away late in the third quarter with Davis' third touchdown run of the day.
LAST TIME IN COLUMBIA
Mark Buchholz booted a 35-yard field goal at time expired, lifting No. 21 Clemson to a 23-21 win at South Carolina on Nov. 24, 2007. For the second year in a row, Clemson opened up a double-digit lead at the half, only to see Carolina rally to take the lead. Blake Mitchell's third touchdown pass of the game gave Carolina a 21-20 lead with nine minutes remaining after USC trailed 17-7 at the intermission. Mitchell finished the game hitting 18-of-31 passes for 284 yards. Kenny McKinley had a big night, catching eight passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Clemson won the statistical battle, outgaining the Gamecocks 443-364 including 214 yards on the ground, as they controlled the clock for 38:37.
LAST TIME OUT: FLORIDA
Tim Tebow tied the SEC touchdown record and Florida gained its first perfect league season in 13 years with a 24-14 win over South Carolina on Nov. 14 in Columbia. The Gamecocks held Florida 100 yards below their season average and were within a field goal deep in Gator territory as the fourth quarter began. But an interception by Florida's Jonathan Trattou was returned 69 yards to set up the clinching touchdown plunge by Tebow. Stephen Garcia was 17-of-32 for 186 yards and a touchdown, a 15-yard strike to Weslye Saunders in the second quarter. The Gamecocks had more first downs than the Gators, but were only able to convert three of 12 third-down opportunities and turned the ball over three times.
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.
•Of the 13, 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. Ryan Mallett, ARK - 5 2. Stephen Garcia, SC - 4 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.
The Gamecocks have had 20 players make their initial collegiate starts this season. • NC State: CB Akeem Auguste, CB Stephon Gilmore, SPUR Alonzo Winfield, OG T.J. Johnson, OT Quintin Richardson, WR Tori Gurley, DE Devin Taylor.
• Georgia: LB Shaq Wilson
• FAU: LB Tony Straughter, DB Antonio Allen
• S.C. State: CB C.C. Whitlock, OL Kyle Nunn and RB Kenny Miles
• Kentucky: TE Justice Cunningham, LB Josh Dickerson
• Vanderbilt: WR Stephen Flint
• Tennessee: SS DeVonte Holloman
• Arkansas: OG Garrett Chisolm
• Florida: RB Bryce Sherman, DL Melvin Ingram
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 11 games at cornerback and has intercepted a pass, forced a fumble and recovered another fumble. He also has two sacks among his 48 tackles, and is averaging 11.7 yards per punt return. He set a career-high with 10 tackles against Florida on Nov. 14. Redshirt freshman wide receiver Tori Gurley is the Gamecocks' fourth-leading receiver. He has caught 26 passes for 376 yards in 11 games, including a four-catch, 100-yard performance against FAU. Redshirt freshman T.J. Johnson from Aynor, S.C. has started all 11 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 14 freshmen on its two-deep.
MORE RECOGNITION Here is a rundown of the various awards and honors earned by the Gamecocks during the 2009 season:
• Devin Taylor - SEC Defensive Lineman 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).
• Eric Norwood - Butkus Award Finalist (Nov. 20)
UNDER COACH SPURRIER
Head coach Steve Spurrier is 34-27 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 6-15 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 and fell to top-ranked Florida at home, 24-14.
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.
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.
Bowl Date Opponent
Music City Bowl Dec. 27 ACC No. 5/6/7
Independence Bowl Dec. 28 Big 12
Chick-fil-A Bowl Dec. 31 ACC #2
Outback Bowl Jan. 1 Big Ten #3
Capital One Bowl Jan. 1 Big Ten #2
Allstate Sugar Bowl Jan. 1 BCS
Cotton Bowl Jan. 2 Big 12 #2
Liberty Bowl Jan. 2 C-USA #1
Papajohns.com Bowl Jan. 2 Big East
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