Oct. 4, 2004
Columbia, S.C. –
The South Carolina Gamecocks (4-1/2-1) continue Southeastern Conference play this Saturday by hosting the Ole Miss Rebels (2-3/1-1). Kickoff at Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250) is 1 p.m. South Carolina is ranked #25 in this week’s Associated Press media poll. The Gamecocks received 20 votes in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll, but did not crack the top 25. The game with Ole Miss will be televised on a pay-per-view basis in the state of South Carolina with Mike Morgan (play-by-play) and George Rogers (color analyst) calling the action.
A QUICK LOOK
Ole Miss is the second straight opponent from the SEC’s Western Division for the Gamecocks. On Oct. 2, USC defeated Alabama in Tuscaloosa 20-3 … It will be Homecoming on the USC campus … The 1984 Carolina team, which won a school-record 10 games en route to a record-setting season affectionately referred to as “Black Magic” by Gamecock fans, will be honored at the game. It marks the 20th anniversary of the team that won its first nine games of the season and was ranked as high as #2 in the national polls, still an all-time best for a Carolina football team … Over the years, Carolina is 43-28-1 in Homecoming games. The Gamecocks have won their last four Homecoming matchups, with the last Homecoming loss coming in 1999 (11-10 vs. Vanderbilt) … USC’s national ranking of #25 marks the first time since week three of the 2003 season that the Gamecocks have been in the national polls. Heading into last year’s game at Georgia, Carolina was likewise ranked #25 following its win over #15 Virginia. After Georgia defeated USC 31-7 in Athens, the Gamecocks did not make it back into the rankings for the remainder of the season … It is also State Fair week in Columbia. The Fair begins its 10-day run on Oct. 7. Fans are encouraged to arrive at the stadium earlier than normal on Saturday, go to the game and enjoy the Fair afterwards.
South Carolina and Ole Miss meet for the 13th time this Saturday. The Rebels lead the series 7-5. Ole Miss has won the last four games in the series (1981, 1998-99, 2003) … In Columbia the series is tied at 3-3 … USC’s last win over Ole Miss came in 1979 (21-14 in Columbia) … The series dates back to 1947, with Ole Miss winning 33-0 in Memphis … This will be Ole Miss’ second trip to Columbia since the Gamecocks joined the SEC. The Rebels were 36-10 winners over Carolina in 1999 in Columbia … Last Meeting, 11/1/03, Oxford, Ole Miss 43, USC 40 … Trailing 43-14 in the fourth quarter, South Carolina made a furious comeback that ended just shy of victory as #20 Ole Miss held on for a 43-40 win to remain unbeaten in the SEC. After a first quarter that saw the scored knotted at 14-14, Ole Miss ran off 16 straight points in the second period to take a 30-14 lead at the half. That lead swelled to 43-14 late in the third quarter, before Daccus Turman’s 29-yard touchdown scamper on the final play of that period marked the first of four straight USC touchdowns. Cory Boyd scored from five yards out with 8:16 remaining and then Dondrial Pinkins hooked up with Matthew Thomas for a 98-yard touchdown pass (the second longest in school history) and suddenly USC was back in business. Pinkins tossed his second touchdown pass of the day to Noah Whiteside, this one going for 20 yards, with 1:40 remaining. Ole Miss was able to run out the clock on its next offensive possession to preserve the 43-40 victory. Pinkins completed 14-32 passes for a career-high 298 yards and four touchdowns. Thomas had two receptions for 113 yards and one TD, while Whiteside had his most productive afternoon as a Gamecock, with three catches for 89 yards and two touchdowns. For Ole Miss, All-America quarterback Eli Manning completed 30-42 passes for 391 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Ole Miss controlled the football for most of the afternoon, winning the time of possession battle 37:10-22:50 … Last Meeting in Columbia, 10/2/99 … Having to start three true freshmen in the offensive backfield (QB Mikal Goodman, RB Derek Watson, RB Andrew Pinnock), the Gamecocks found themselves out-matched against a veteran Ole Miss team, as the Rebels earned a 36-10 win before 81,600 at Williams-Brice Stadium. USC’s offense was able to generate just 163 total yards, as Ole Miss led start to finish. The Gamecocks were forced to operate with a makeshift offensive line due to injuries and were able to manage just 16 yards rushing. The Rebels led 24-7 at the half and put it on cruise control the remainder of the evening. Pinnock scored USC’s only touchdown on a three-yard run in the second quarter. Steve Florio was successful on a 42-yard field goal for Carolina’s other points on the evening. Ole Miss rushed for 248 yards and completed 13 of 16 passes for 145 yards.
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. Carolina notched his third straight victory and second straight SEC road win with a 20-3 triumph over Alabama in Tuscaloosa on 10/2 … 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 247 career victories. His 247 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 … Over the years, Coach Holtz is 2-3 vs. Ole Miss. During his tenure as head coach at Arkansas, Holtz went up against the Rebels in 1981, winning 27-13 at Jackson; in 1982, winning 14-12 at Little Rock; and in 1983, losing 13-10 at Jackson. His 1999 USC team was defeated 36-10 by Ole Miss in Columbia and his 2003 Gamecocks lost 43-40 to Ole Miss in Oxford. Carolina features one player on its roster from the state of Mississippi — freshman lineman Josh Winchell (Southaven) … Two Ole Miss players are from the Palmetto State — reserve senior kicker Danny Wysong is from Conway and freshman linebacker Brandon Thomas is from North Augusta … Ole Miss head coach David Cutcliffe is in his sixth season as the Rebels’ head man and carries a 42-25 mark into his team’s game against South Carolina. Cutcliffe is 2-0 vs. the Gamecocks, having won games in 1999 and 2003. Cutcliffe was named the 2003 SEC Coach of the Year after leading the Rebels to a 10-2 record and Cotton Bowl victory over Oklahoma State … Ole Miss defensive tackles coach Rick Petri served on the Gamecock coaching staff from 1996-98, when he coached the defensive ends. One of his prize pupils was John Abraham, who went on to become a first round draft pick by the New York Jets in 2000.
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. He started against Ole Miss and played in the first half before re-injuring his shoulder. Pinkins is scheduled to have an MRI performed on Monday (10/4). 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 3,080 yards (8th all-time) with 16 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, while completing .510 percent of his passes (235-461) … 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 (109.0), an average that ranks 8th nationally. Williamson had a school-record 210 yards receiving in the win over South Florida. The junior speedster had 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 some solid performers on hand 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 and one against Alabama … Bennett and Simpson are tied for the team lead with three interceptions each. That total ranks 2nd best in the SEC and rated #15 in the NCAA heading into games on 10/9 … 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 split playing time 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 … South Carolina came up with four interceptions in the win over Alabama. That is the most picks by a USC defense since 2000, when the Gamecocks intercepted five Georgia passes enroute to a 21-10 victory over the Bulldogs in Columbia … Heading into this week’s game vs. Ole Miss, Carolina has come up with 10 interceptions on defense. That has already surpassed last season’s end of the year total of nine … 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 … Carolina’s defense ranks among the tops in the SEC. The Gamecocks are ranked 2nd in scoring defense (7.8); 1st in rushing defense (102.4); 3rd in pass defense (153.80); and 3rd in total defense (256.2) … 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, Los Angeles Times and has run in nearly every major newspaper from coast to coast. Frisby appeared as a guest on The Late Show with David Letterman Sept. 30 in New York City. There have been more than 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, 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 … For the first time ever, Carolina won at Alabama, defeating the Crimson Tide 20-3 on 10/2 in front of 82,141 at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. Relying on its stingy defense throughout the evening, USC mixed in a solid kicking game along with a ball control offense to post its second SEC road victory of the 2004 season. Josh Brown knocked down a pair of field goals in the opening half as Carolina took a 6-3 lead into intermission. The Gamecock defense rose to the occasion in the second half, coming up with three of its four interceptions the final 30 minutes of play. Fred Bennett had two picks on the night, while Ko Simpson and Tremaine Tyler each had interceptions. The four interceptions were the most by a Gamecock defense since the 2000 game vs. Georgia in which Carolina picked off five passes in that 21-10 victory. The Gamecock defense limited Alabama to just 210 total yards and nine first downs. USC also stopped the Crimson Tide on all 11 of their third down conversions. The Gamecock offense had the ball 34 minutes and Brown averaged 41.5 yards on four punts. Syvelle Newton started the second half at quarterback as Dondrial Pinkins was out with a bruised shoulder. Newton scored two rushing touchdowns in the third quarter to help give Carolina the cushion it needed. Demetris Summers played for the first time in three weeks and was USC’s leading ground gainer with 61 yards on 15 carries, including a long run of 39 yards — USC’s longest run from scrimmage thus far this season. Summers had missed the South Florida and Troy games with an ankle injury. Carolina threw just 11 times, completing four for 46 yards and one interception. The passing yards are the fewest by USC since the 2002 game against Tennessee in Columbia (45 yards passing). One has to go back to the 1996 season to find a game in which Carolina attempted and completed as few passes as it did in the win over Alabama. Against Vanderbilt in 1996, USC was just 2-9-1 passing the ball. Carolina won that game 27-0. Carolina had no penalties in the game. Checking back in the SID files, that has not happened since 1980 and it is uncertain when it happened prior to that. The victory over Alabama raised USC’s overall mark to 4-1 and its SEC record to 2-1.