Sept. 27, 2004
Columbia, S.C. – The South Carolina Gamecocks (3-1/1-1) jump back into Southeastern Conference action this Saturday by traveling to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide (3-1/1-1). The game will be televised nationally by ESPN2 (Gary Bender, Bill Curry, David Norrie and Alex Flanagan) with kickoff set for shortly after 6 p.m. (eastern) at Bryant-Denny Stadium (83,818).
A Quick Look
Following a three-game September homestand, South Carolina hits the road for the first time since the season opener on Sept. 4. The Gamecocks defeated Vanderbilt in Nashville in the lidlifter, 31-6, before returning to Columbia to face #3 Georgia (20-16 defeat) and non-conference foes South Florida (34-3 win) and Troy University (17-7 win) … The game with Alabama begins a six-game stretch of SEC games for Carolina… The Gamecocks conclude regular season play Nov. 20 at Clemson … Saturday’s contest was selected to be televised by ESPN2. It marks the third time this season that the Gamecocks have been shown via ESPN’s networks. The game with Georgia was broadcast by ESPN, while the game against Troy was televised by ESPN GamePlan.
South Carolina and Alabama meet for the 12th time this Saturday evening. The Crimson Tide holds a commanding 10-1 lead in the series that dates back to 1937. In Tuscaloosa, UA has won all seven meetings. At Columbia, the Tide has won two of three games. The other meeting came in 1945 in Montgomery, a game also won by Alabama … South Carolina’s lone victory in this series happened to come in the last meeting between the two schools, as the Gamecocks rallied for a 37-36 win in 2001 … Alabama was a 27-17 winner in 2000, the last time the two squared off in Tuscaloosa … Last Meeting, 9/29/01, Columbia, #15/#16 South Carolina 37, Alabama 36 … South Carolina fought back from a two touchdown deficit in the second half to post a thrilling 37-36 victory over Alabama before 84,100 at Williams-Brice Stadium. With 9:01 remaining in the fourth period, USC found itself trailing 36-24. The Gamecocks turned to senior quarterback Phil Petty for leadership and he did not disappoint, as he went 7-8 for 107 yards on the final two scoring drives. Derek Watson’s two-yard touchdown run at the 6:28 mark sliced the lead to one touchdown. The Gamecock defense stopped Alabama on its next possession and Petty led the offense back onto the field with 3:57 remaining. On the first two plays of the drive, Petty caught the Tide defense off guard on two QB rushes for 12 yards. Then Petty hit Andrea Gause over the middle for a 37-yard gain, down to the Alabama 7-yard line. On the very next play, Petty found tight end Rod Trafford in the end zone for the game-winning score with 2:18 left. Final score, Carolina 37, Alabama 36. The Crimson Tide outgained Carolina 516-359 in total offense, thanks in large part to quarterback Tyler Watts’ standout performance which included 175 yards rushing and two touchdowns and 231 yards passing an another touchdown. Petty paced USC’s attacked with 291 yards passing and three touchdowns. Last Meeting in Tuscaloosa, 9/30/00, Alabama 27, South Carolina 17 … The Gamecocks were handed their first loss of the 2000 season by an Alabama team that had been ranked as high as #3 in the nation in the preseason polls. Carolina played the entire first half without starting quarterback Phil Petty, who was out with an ankle sprain he had suffered the week before. Backups Erik Kimrey and Dondrial Pinkins played in the first half, but the Gamecock offense was unable to generate much consistency. Petty did enter the game in the third quarter and proceeded to complete seven of 19 passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns, however, he did throw two interceptions. Receiver Jermale Kelly had a good afternoon, with six receptions for 107 yards and two TDs. Brian Scott had five catches for 62 yards. After Kelly’s 19-yard touchdown catch at the 5:07 mark of the third quarter had narrowed the Alabama lead to 13-10, Tide running back Ahmaad Galloway broke free for a 62-yard touchdown run to put ‘Bama up 20-10 … USC head coach Lou Holtz is 2-3 lifetime coaching against Alabama. While at Arkansas, he lost to Alabama 24-9 in the 1980 Sugar Bowl. While at Notre Dame, his 1986 team lost to the Crimson Tide 28-10 in Birmingham and defeated “Bama 37-6 the following season in South Bend. Then, there have been the two games played since he’s been at South Carolina.
A Closer Look
South Carolina returns 16 starters (nine offense/six defense/one specialist) … For the first time since 1995, USC opened its season with two straight SEC games. The Gamecocks defeated Vanderbilt 31-6 in the season opener before dropping a 20-16 decision to #3 Georgia on 9/11 … USC bounced back to defeat South Florida 34-3 on 9/18 and was a 17-7 winner over Troy on 9/25 … Now in his 33rd season as a collegiate head coach, USC’s Lou Holtz ranks third among active head coaches and eighth all-time with 246 career victories. His 246 career wins trail only Penn State’s Joe Paterno and Florida State’s Bobby Bowden among active coaches. Coach Holtz is the only coach in the history of college football to lead six different programs (William & Mary, North Carolina State, Arkansas, Minnesota, Notre Dame and South Carolina) to post-season bowl games (all by the second season) and is likewise the only coach in history to have four different programs (NC State, Arkansas, Notre Dame and South Carolina) finish the season ranked in the top 20 … Carolina features two players on its roster from the state of Alabama, the Lindsey twins, Dustin and Jordin. The pair of linebackers are from Mobile … Alabama head coach Mike Shula is in his second year as head coach at his alma mater, having compiled a 7-10 record thus far. Currently the second youngest Division 1-A head coach at 39 years of age, Shula spent two seasons as quarterbacks coach for the Miami Dolphins before returning to Tuscaloosa in May of 2003. Shula was a three-year starter at quarterback for Alabama (1984-86), finishing his career with a 32-15-1 record, all under Coach Ray Perkins. In fact, Shula was the starting quarterback for Alabama in 1986 when the Crimson Tide defeated Lou Holtz’s Notre Dame squad 28-10 in Birmingham. He is the son of former Dolphins’ head coach Don Shula, the winningest coach in NFL history and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This will be his first meeting as a head coach against South Carolina … Alabama running backs coach Sparky Woods was head coach at South Carolina from 1989-93. Woods was the Gamecock head coach in 1992 when USC visited Bryant-Denny Stadium. losing 48-7 to the eventual national champions … Tide defensive coordinator Joe Kines was the interim head coach at Arkansas in 1992 when the Razorbacks came into Columbia and defeated the Gamecocks 45-7.
Carolina Close Up
In each of the past two seasons, the Gamecocks have come up one victory short in their attempt to become bowl eligible. Carolina had the best two-year run in school history from 2000-01, posting 8-4 and 9-3 records and winning consecutive Outback Bowl championships against Ohio State … Dondrial Pinkins started the first two games of 2004 at quarterback, before missing the South Florida game with a bruised shoulder. That snapped a 16-game starting streak for Pinkins. Dondrial returned to the starting lineup against Troy and split playing time with sophomore Syvelle Newton. Pinkins threw for 2,127 yards a year ago – the ninth best single-season total in school history. For his career, Pinkins has thrown for 3,048 yards (8th all-time) with 16 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, while completing .512 percent of his passes (233-455) … Center John Strickland is on the pre-season watch list for the Rimington Award … USC’s starting offense line averages 310 pounds across the front … … Season ticket sales for Carolina home games are once again on a steady pace. The Gamecocks are expected to sell nearly 60,000 season tickets in 2004 … A record $11.9 million was raised by the Gamecock Club, USC’s athletic fund-raising arm, last year … The Gamecock football team had its best academic semester ever, posting a 2.592 grade point average last spring … Receivers Troy Williamson and Matthew Thomas own the two longest touchdown receptions in USC history. Williamson had a school-record 99-yard catch and run vs. Virginia last season. Thomas was on the receiving end of a 98-yard touchdown bomb also last season. Both touchdown passes were thrown by Dondrial Pinkins … Williamson is currently leading the SEC in receiving yards per game (136.2), an average that ranks 3rd nationally. Williamson had a school-record 210 yards receiving in the win over South Florida. The junior speedster has been over the 100-yard receiving mark in three straight contests (Georgia, South Florida, Troy). Not since 1995 has a Gamecock receiver put together a three-game string of 100-plus receiving yard performances. Zola Davis is the last Gamecock to do it (104 vs. LSU, 9/30/95; 109 vs. Kent, 10/7/95; 185 vs. Mississippi State, 10/14/95). That gives Williamson six games during his career in which he has surpassed the 100-yard receiving mark. That is tied for the third most 100-yard receiving games in school history, along with Philip Logan. Only Zola Davis (8) and Sterling Sharpe (10) have more 100-yard receiving games during their careers … Syvelle Newton made his first career start at quarterback on 9/18 vs. South Florida. Newton, who played wide receiver in 2003 and had 22 receptions for 277 yards, put on a performance to remember against the Bulls. The sophomore threw for 324 yards and three touchdowns and also rushed for 39 yards. He threw touchdown passes of 56, 55 and 73 yards to Williamson. Newton was an all-state quarterback in high school at Marlboro County (S.C.) … USC returns its top four rushers from a year ago. Daccus Turman led the way with 646 yards (4.9 yards per carry) and seven touchdowns. Demetris Summers tallied 638 yards (5.1 yards per carry) and three touchdowns and Pinkins picked up 254 yards and five TDs. Cory Boyd rushed for 232 yards and three scores. Summers missed the South Florida and Troy games while recovering from an ankle sprain … Four of the five offensive line starters from last season return. Only Travelle Wharton, the all-star left tackle who was a third-round draft pick by the Carolina Panthers, is gone. Jabari Levey (LT), John Strickland (C), Jonathan Alston (RG) and Na’Shan Goddard (RT) all started at least seven games a year ago … Tight end Brian Brownlee has three touchdown receptions during his career — two in last year’s season finale vs. Clemson and one in this year’s opener vs. Vanderbilt … Moe Thompson and George Gause are regarded to be among the top pair of defensive ends in the SEC. Thompson was a pre-season All-SEC selection. The two combined for 10 quarterback sacks and nine tackles for loss last season … Jason Capers has proven to be a versatile defender for the Gamecocks. Capers can play both the tackle and end positions in USC’s four-man front … Darrell Shropshire had four tackles for loss last year as a junior college transfer and started all 12 games at tackle … Linebacker Ricardo Hurley appears to be healthy this season. The junior was hobbled with an ankle injury throughout much of the 2003 campaign. Two seniors — Marcus Lawrence and Rodriques Wilson — are slated to start at the other linebacker slots. Wilson started four games at safety last season, but was moved to outside linebacker during spring drills … The Gamecocks will feature some new faces in the secondary this fall. Gone is cornerback Dunta Robinson, the #1 draft pick of the Houston Texans, but there seem to be four solid performers who are up to the task. Tremaine Tyler and Fred Bennett are listed as the starters backed up by Taqiy Muhammad. Johnathan Joseph was slated to also be in the playing rotation but he is expected to be out the remainder of the season after breaking his foot against Georgia … A true freshman, Ko Simpson, is the starter at free safety. Simpson returned an interception 57 yards for a touchdown against Georgia on Sept. 11 and had another interception vs. South Florida … Simpson signed with Carolina in 2003, but did not enroll until last spring semester. He did go through spring practice. Another true freshman, Chris Hampton, is listed as his back-up. Two seniors are battling for the starting berth at strong safety — Jamacia Jackson and Jermaine Harris. Both had interceptions in the opening win over Vanderbilt. Jackson’s 98-yard interception return for a touchdown ranks as the 4th longest interception return in USC history. It is also the longest interception return since 1982, when Harry Skipper returned an interception 101 yards for a touchdown … Josh Brown is likely to handle the punting chores. Joey Bowers will kick off and also punt in certain situations. The placekicking duties should be handled by Brown … Three members of the Gamecock squad earned their bachelor’s degree last May — LB Rodriques Wilson, DT Preston Thorne, and OG Jonathan Alston … Carolina may have one of the most unique stories in all of college football this season. Tim Frisby, a 39-year-old walk-on receiver, who spent 20 years in the U.S. Army as a Ranger, is a member of the Gamecock team. Frisby, who went through spring practice and then reported back to the team when classes began in August, was officially cleared to participate in intercollegiate athletic competition on Sept. 23 by the NCAA. Frisby dressed and played the final four snaps of the game against Troy. Frisby is the father of six children, ranging from 16 years to an infant. He is originally from Allentown, Pa., and graduated from high school there in 1983. He finished his stint with the military at Fort Jackson in Columbia and is living out his dream of playing college football. Nicknamed “Pops” by his teammates, Frisby has become the media darling of the Gamecock squad. Requests for interviews have come in by the dozens, literally from every major news outlet across the country. His story has been told on ESPN GameDay, in the New York Times, and has run in nearly every major newspaper from coast to coast. There have been nearly half a dozen contacts to the USC Sports Information Office by major motion picture companies regarding doing a movie on his life story. CNN, “Good Morning America,” “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” and ESPN’s “Cold Pizza” are just a few of the major news programs that have been in touch. Says Coach Lou Holtz: “We love having “Pops” on our football team. He is an inspiration to us all. He’s not at all out of place on this football team.”
South Carolina opened its 2004 campaign with a 31-6 victory over Vanderbilt Sept. 4 in Nashville. The Gamecocks came out in impressive fashion, scoring points on their first three offensive drives. Dondrial Pinkins hurt the Commodore defense with both his legs and his arm, as the senior quarterback rushed for 77 yards and one touchdown and threw for 168 yards and one TD. Offensively, Carolina made good use of its abundance of quality runnng backs, racking up 269 yards rushing, averaging 4.7 yards per rush. Demetris Summers picked up a game-high 87 yards on 11 carries, while fellow backs Gonzie Gray (26 yards), Andrea Gause (25 yards), Daccus Turman (21 yards), and Cory Boyd (16 yards) also were factors in the running game … Receiver Troy Williamson was Pinkins’ favorite target, as the junior had five catches for 99 yards receiving … Noah Whiteside turned in a career-high 43-yard punt return in the win over Vanderbilt … Defensively, Carolina limited Vanderbilt to just the one touchdown. Cornerback Fred Bennett, making his first career start, led the way with eight tackles (six solo) and one tackle for loss. Safety Jamacia Jackson had the 98-yard interception return for a touchdown to go along with seven tackles and one forced fumble. Tackle Darrell Shropshire had two tackles for loss, as did tackle Stanley Doughty … Free safety Ko Simpson, likewise making his first career start, broke up two passes. End Moe Thompson recovered his sixth career fumble in the win over Vanderbilt … The stage was set for a “big-game” atmosphere in Columbia, as the Gamecocks prepared to battle #3 Georgia on 9-11 at Williams-Brice Stadium. ESPN’s GameDay crew was in town and the game was being televised nationally by ESPN. The third largest crowd in school history (84,300) was on hand to witness a hard-hitting affair, as the Bulldogs erased a 16-0 lead to come back and win 20-16 … Carolina, wearing its all black attire (black helmets, black jerseys, black pants) for the first time in school history, jumped out on top 2-0 in the first quarter, thanks to a safety by linebacker Marcus Lawrence. The lead grew to 9-0 when Troy Williamson took a slant pass from quarterback Dondrial Pinkins, shook off a defensive back, and raced 65 yards for a touchdown at the 54 second mark of the opening period. Freshman Ko Simpson got the crowd really hyped up when he picked off an errant David Greene pass and brought it back 57 yards for a touchdown. It marked the second straight game that USC had returned an interception for a touchdown … Georgia tacked on a pair of Andy Bailey field goals before halftime and the Gamecocks took a 16-6 lead into the locker room. UGA did all the scoring in the second half, however, as Greene tossed touchdown passes of 12 yards to Tyson Browning and 22 yards to Reggie Brown. The Bulldog defense stiffened down the stretch, halting three potential go-ahead touchdown drives by the Gamecocks — one on a jarring hit by Greg Blue which forced a Pinkins fumble; another on a tackle by DeMario Minter which stopped Pinkins on a fourth down try; and the final one on an interception by Paul Oliver, which finally put the Gamecocks away … Carolina found itself playing a little short-handed as the game went along. Receivers Noah Whiteside and Travis Lee were serving a one-game suspension for violating team rules. Whiteside is a starter at receiver and also is the starting punt returner. Starting tailback Demetris Summers suffered an ankle sprain on the first play of the game and was able to return for only one other play in the second half, before leaving the game for good with the injury. Cornerback and backup punt returner Johnathan Joseph fractured his right foot in the first half, while starting receiver and return specialist Troy Williamson was out for most of the fourth quarter with leg cramps. Finally, receiver Sidney Rice suffered a hyperextended left knee during pregame warmups and was unable to play … South Carolina shook off any lingering effects of the narrow loss to Georgia by responding the next week with a convincing 34-3 victory over South Florida. Making his first career start at quarterback, Syvelle Newton came through with flying colors. Starter Dondrial Pinkins was sidelined with a shoulder bruise and threw very little during practice the week leading up to the game. Newton completed 13 of 23 passes for 324 yards and three touchdowns. His 324 yards passing are the most ever by a Gamecock quarterback making his first start. That total is also the most passing yards by a Carolina quarterback since Anthony Wright threw for 351 yards against Mississippi State in 1996 … Receiver Troy Williamson likewise had a night to remember. The junior speedster set a single-game school record with 210 yards receiving and also had three touchdown receptions, which tied a school record and was the most by a Gamecock since Zola Davis caught three TD passes vs. Kent in 1995 … Running back Cory Boyd led the Gamecock rushing attack with 46 yards on eight carries and one touchdown — a 14-yard run in the third quarter … Carolina racked up 530 yards of total offense, its most productive output since the 2001 victory over Vanderbilt, when the Gamecocks rang up a school-record 656 total yards … Josh Brown nailed both of his field goal attempts — a 32-yarder and a 22-yarder … Defensively, USC kept South Florida out of the end zone, yielding just a 47 yard field goal by Santiago Gramatica on the final play of the first half. That is the fewest points allowed by USC since the 2000 season opener vs. New Mexico State, in which the Gamecocks posted a 31-0 shutout … Linebacker Rodriques Wilson had six total tackles, as did defensive end George Gause. Ko Simpson came up with his second interception of the season. Carolina’s defenders also broke up eight passes on the evening … The 191 total yards by South Florida is the lowest total offense number by a Gamecock opponent since the 2003 season when Virginia managed just 170 total yards … Carolina posted its second win in a row with a 17-7 conquest of Troy on 9/25 in Columbia. Utilizing a true two-quarterback system throughout the evening, the Gamecocks drove 81 yards on their first possession, culminated by Cory Boyd’s three-yard scoring run. A Dondrial Pinkins fumble, however, helped set up a touchdown later in the first quarter by Troy and the score was knotted at 7-7. Josh Brown booted a career-long 40-yard field goal with 19 seconds left in the first half and the Gamecocks took a 10-7 lead at intermission. Syvelle Newton engineered an 80-yard drive late in the third quarter, putting the exclamation point on the 14-play drive with a six-yard scoring run of his own. The Gamecock defense played solid throughout the evening, limiting the Trojans to just nine first downs and 207 total yards. Newton completed 10 of 14 passes for 98 yards with one interception, while Pinkins was 6-10-1 for 101 yards. Gonzie Gray was the leading rusher with 47 yards on 13 carries. Ko Simpson topped the tackle chart with eight total stops.