Sept. 15, 2006
SETTING THE STAGE: The South Carolina Gamecocks (1-1, 1-1 SEC) continue their four-game homestand and step out of the Southeastern Conference for the first time this season as they host the Wofford Terriers (1-1) out of the Southern Conference on Saturday, Sept. 16. Game time is set for 7:05 p.m. at Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250) in Columbia. The game will be available throughout the Palmetto State on a pay-per-view basis, while the rest of the country can see it as part of ESPN’s GamePlan package. Mike Morgan, Josh Brown and George Rogers have the call. Todd Ellis and Tommy Suggs will be in the booth for the Carolina Gamecocks Sports Network, with Rob DeBoer on the sidelines. The game can also be heard on SIRIUS satellite channel 117.
A LITTLE HISTORY: This is the 113th season of college football at the University of South Carolina, dating back to 1892. The university did not field a team in either 1893 or 1906. This is the 100th consecutive year in which USC has competed on the gridiron. Carolina owns an all-time record of 508-513-44. The school’s only league title came in 1969 when it posted a 6-0 record to win the ACC crown in Paul Dietzel’s fourth year.
GAMECOCKS AND TERRIERS: This is the 21st meeting between these two Palmetto-state schools. Carolina has won the last 13 meetings to hold a 16-4 all-time advantage. The teams have met just once since the 1957 season, with USC winning by a 38-14 count on Nov. 3, 2001 in Columbia. The Terriers were added to the schedule that season, replacing Bowling Green in the wake of 9-11. A crowd of 77,922 was on hand at Williams-Brice Stadium. Wofford’s last win over South Carolina came on Nov. 17, 1917 by a 20-0 score, which also marks USC’s last trip to Spartanburg.
SPURRIER AND THE TERRIERS: South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier has not faced Wofford previous in his 17-year collegiate coaching career.
MORE ON WOFFORD: The Terriers enter the game with a 1-1 record after defeating South Carolina State, 28-21, before falling to Coastal Carolina, 41-38. Wofford likes to do its work on the ground, as they’ve rushed 105 times for 568 yards in two games, while completing just 14-of-23 passes for 173 yards.
SITTING THIS ONE OUT: The Gamecocks are without the services of safety Brandon Isaac (declared ineligible by the NCAA), wide receiver Noah Whiteside and safety Ty Erving (violation of university policy), offensive guard James Thompson (violation of team rules) and quarterback Blake Mitchell (suspended indefinitely). Offensive tackle Gurminder Thind is also sidelined with a right foot injury and will not play.
SEASON-ENDERS: Safeties Brandon Isaac (left shoulder) and Nick Prochak (left shoulder), defensive tackle Marque Hall (left knee), offensive guard Kevin Young (left shoulder) and defensive end Terrence Campbell (left knee) are out for the season with injuries.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: The Gamecocks outscored the Terriers by a 38-14 count at Williams-Brice Stadium on Nov. 3, 2001. Andrew Pinnock rushed for 86 yards on just 11 carries and scored three times for USC. Quarterback Phil Petty completed 15-of-20 passes for 160 yards and rushed for two scores. That game marks the last time USC played a Division I-AA foe.
PLAYING THE SOUTHERN CONFERENCE: This week’s matchup is the 150th for South Carolina against opponents from the Southern Conference. The Gamecocks are 100-45-4 in the previous 149 meetings, including a 16-4 record against Wofford. The Citadel (49 games) and Furman (47 games) have provided the majority of the opposition from the Southern Conference. OUT OF THEIR LEAGUE: The Gamecocks were 2-2 in non-league action in 2005 (wins over UCF and Troy and losses to Clemson and Missouri) and have finished with a .500 or better mark in games outside the SEC each year since the start of the 2000 season. They are 16-7 in non-conference games since the 2000 campaign, including a perfect 4-0 record in 2001 (Boise State, Wofford, Clemson and Ohio State).
A NEW TRADITION: With the addition of the 12th game to the Division I football schedules, South Carolina has added a contest each year against an in-state I-AA opponent. Wofford will be back on the schedule in both the 2008 and 2012 campaigns. South Carolina State will make its way to Columbia to face the Gamecocks for the first time ever in 2007, and is also scheduled for the 2011 season. The Citadel is on the docket for both 2009 and 2013, while Furman is penciled in for 2010 and 2014.
THE LAST TIME OUT: The Gamecocks were blanked, 18-0, by the 12th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs last Saturday night at Williams-Brice Stadium. The Gamecocks infiltrated the redzone three times, but were turned away on each occasion. Georgia held a 387-255 advantage in total offense. The Gamecock defense bent but did not break for most of the evening, allowing just the one touchdown.
STREAK ENDS: The Gamecocks had their school-record six-game SEC winning streak come to an end Saturday against Georgia. They ended the 2005 season with a five-game SEC winning streak, defeating Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Arkansas and Florida in succession before opening the 2006 season with a win at Mississippi State. They had only won as many as four straight SEC games once (2001-Georgia, Mississippi State, Alabama, Kentucky) prior to the recent streak.
PITCHING A SHUTOUT: The shutout loss to Georgia last Saturday was the first time Carolina had been blanked since suffered a 23-0 loss at home to Arkansas on Nov. 9, 2002. The Gamecocks had played 37 games between shutouts.
BLANKING SPURRIER: Head Coach Steve Spurrier suffered just his second career shutout in 198 college games. The last time his squad was blanked was in his first year as a head coach when Rutgers whitewashed Duke by a 7-0 score on Oct. 3, 1987 – a stretch of 193 games between blankings.
199 FOR THE HEAD BALL COACH: This week’s game marks the 199th game as a collegiate head coach for USC’s Steve Spurrier. He owns a 150-46-2 mark through the first 198 contests.
150 FOR COACH SPURRIER: Steve Spurrier logged career victory number 150 as a collegiate head coach with the Gamecocks’ season-opening win at Mississippi State. He owns a career mark of 150-46-2 in 17 seasons as a college head coach, a .763 winning percentage. It was his first win in three tries in Starkville, as he had lost his previous two trips to Mississippi State as the head coach at Florida.
BACK-TO-BACK GOOSE EGGS: The Gamecocks have played in back-to-back shutout games for the first time since the 1993 season when Mississippi State handed USC a 23-0 defeat in Starkville before the Gamecocks bounced back with a 22-0 home win over Vanderbilt. The last time that two shutouts were recorded in the same season was in 1999 when USC was blanked by N.C. State (10-0) and by Mississippi State (17-0).
18 AFTER TWO: The Gamecocks have surrendered just 18 points after two games, ranking 15th in the nation in scoring defense at 9.0 points per game. The last time they allowed as few as 18 points in the first two games of the season was in 2003 when they posted a 14-7 win over Louisiana-Lafayette and a 31-7 win over Virginia. The 18 points allowed is the fewest the Gamecocks have surrendered in their first two conference games since joining the SEC in 1992. The previous low was 23 points in the 2001 season (14-9 win at Georgia and 16-14 win at Mississippi State).
PICK FIVE: The Gamecocks intercepted three passes against Georgia and have recorded five picks in the first two games. Fred Bennett and Chris Hampton lead the way with two apiece. Carolina is just one of five teams to have five or more interceptions after two games. Virginia Tech leads the nation with six, while LSU, Syracuse and Arkansas State also have five each. Carolina intercepted 12 passes in the 2005 campaign. The school single-season record is 23 interceptions, accomplished in 1981, 1984 and 1987.
MAYBE BY LAND, BUT NOT BY AIR: The Gamecock defense has been stout against the pass this season. Opponents have completed just 18-of-45 passes (40.0 percent) for 271 yards (135.5 yards per game). In addition to the five interceptions, USC is ranked third in the nation in pass efficiency defense with a rating of 68.36, behind only LSU (53.06) and Texas A&M (66.36). Southern California (72.46) and Virginia Tech (76.91) round out the top five.
NOT LAST YEAR’S DEFENSE: The USC defense has allowed just one touchdown and 16 points (2 were scored on a safety) through the season’s first eight quarters. That comes on the heels of allowing 17 points in the final quarter and 38 points in the final three quarters in the 2005 Independence Bowl loss to Missouri. Defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix is doing it with basically 10 new starters on the defensive side of the ball.
WHERE HAVE ALL THE DEFENDERS GONE?: In pitching a shutout at Mississippi State, the Carolina defense did so despite 10 new starters. The Gamecocks lost seven defensive starters off last year’s squad either to graduation or to the NFL (safety Ko Simpson and cornerback Johnathan Joseph). Of the four returning starters, only cornerback Fred Bennett took the first snap this season. Mike West has moved to the offensive side of the ball, while Jordin Lindsey and Stanley Doughty are in for backup roles.
SUCCOP SUCCESS: Sophomore punter Ryan Succop has proved to be a worthy weapon in the special teams arena. Succop is ninth in the country in punting, averaging an even 46 yards per punt, while the Gamecocks are second in the nation in net punting, averaging 44.90 yards per punt. They rank behind only Texas A&M (48.50 yards per punt). Arizona State (44.20), Ohio State (44.0) and Michigan State (43.75) round out the top five. Three of Succop’s 10 punts have been downed inside the 20 and he owns a long of 58 yards.
MORE SUCCOP: Ryan Succop also handles the placekicking chores for the Gamecocks. He has hit on 3-of-4 field goal attempts, missing only from 51 yards when he bounced it off the left upright against Georgia. His shortest field goal attempt this season is from 35 yards out. He was named the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week following his effort at Mississippi State.
NEWTON’S LAWS: One of the biggest off-season question marks was whether 2006 would see the return of Syvelle Newton. That question was answered at Mississippi State when Newton caught three passes for 21 yards and also lined up at quarterback. He had a touchdown pass, hooking up with Cory Boyd on a 54-yard strike after taking a lateral from Blake Mitchell. The senior from Wallace, S.C. suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon while earning SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors for his efforts in leading the Gamecocks to a win over Vanderbilt last October. A rare combination of runner, passer and receiver, Newton is just 55 yards shy of rushing for 500 yards in his career. He has already thrown for over 1,000 yards and has over 500 receiving yards. While All-America candidate Sidney Rice gets most of the publicity, it’s Newton who leads the USC receiving corps with 10 catches, including a career-high seven receptions against Georgia.
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: If Syvelle Newton gets the start at quarterback on Saturday, it would be his first start at that position since the final game of the 2004 season against Clemson. Newton started five games at quarterback that season, getting the nod against South Florida, Ole Miss, Kentucky, Florida and Clemson. He owns a 2-3 record as a starter. For his career, Newton has completed 76-of-139 passes (54.7 percent) for 1,212 yards and nine touchdowns. Since Coach Spurrier took over the program, Newton has completed 5-of-6 passes for 101 yards and three touchdowns.
RICE’S RECEPTIONS: With defenses focused on slowing him down, All-America candidate Sidney Rice is off to somewhat of a slow start this season with just five catches for 44 yards after two games. However, after the first two games of the 2005 season, Rice had just five catches for 70 yards and went on to a school single-season record 1,143 receiving yards with 13 touchdowns. Rice was a pre-season All-SEC selection and was recently named to the Biletnikoff Watch List.
MORE RICE PLEASE: Sidney Rice set the school’s single-season record for receiving yards (1,143) and touchdown catches (13) in 2005. He logged six 100-yard receiving games and has caught a touchdown pass in nine of his 13 career games. After just 13 games, he is quickly moving up the USC chart for career receptions. Carolina Career Receptions Leaders No. Player Years Rec. 1. Sterling Sharpe 1983, 85-87 169 10. Harold Green 1986-89 94 11. Brian Scott 1998-02 93 12. Troy Williamson 2002-04 91 13. Jim Mitchell 1969-71 90 Ira Hillary 1981-84 90 15. Toby Cates 1991-94 89 16. Danny Smith 1984-87 78 17. Eddie Miller 1988-91 76 18. Monty Means 1992-95 75 Sidney Rice 2005-06 75
BOYD CARRIES THE LOAD: Despite not being the starter, junior Cory Boyd showed he is back in the 2006 opener at Mississippi State. Boyd, who missed the entire 2005 season due to a violation of team rules, carried 12 times for a game and career-high 93 yards in the win at Mississippi State. He averaged 7.8 yards per carry. His previous rushing high was 60 yards against Tennessee in 2004. Boyd also caught a team-high four passes for a game-high 67 yards, including the game’s lone touchdown on a 54-yard pass from Syvelle Newton. After two games, Boyd has netted 110 yards rushing (5.2 yards per carry), or 95 percent of the team’s rushing total of 116 yards. Boyd is also second on the team with nine catches for a team-high 107 receiving yards.
MCKINLEY STEPS UP: With defenses focusing on Sidney Rice, sophomore Kenny McKinley will be asked to make more plays this season. The true sophomore responded at Mississippi State with an acrobatic one-handed catch for a 42-yard play, setting up USC’s first score. The 42-yard reception from Chris Smelley matched the longest completion of McKinley’s career. He also caught a 42-yarder for a touchdown at Arkansas last season. He came back with four catches for a team-high 60 yards against Georgia, including a 26-yarder.
SMELLEY SNIFFS PLAYING TIME: True freshman Chris Smelley has earned some playing time at quarterback. The Tuscaloosa, Ala. native has seen action in each of the first two games. He has responded by completing 9-of-15 passes (60.0 percent) for 112 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. Included was a long of 42-yards to Kenny McKinley in the season-opening win at Mississippi State.
BREAKING DOWN BENNETT: All-America cornerback candidate Fred Bennett serves as the leader on the defense. With 23 starts under his belt, Bennett has made more starts than the next two defensive players (Stanley Doughty and Jordin Lindsey with 9 each) have combined. In fact, the other 10 starters on defense combined for just 13 starts on that side of the ball (Hampton-5; Hall-4; Wells-2; Brown-1; Sapp-1) entering the 2006 season.
NEXT IN LINE: Fred Bennett has recorded an interception in each of the first two games. The senior from Manning, S.C. who picked off three passes a year ago has nine career interceptions. With a big year, he could push for the school record of 14 career interceptions, held by Bo Davies (1969-71). Bennett is looking to follow in the footsteps of other recent standout USC defensive backs, including Dunta Robinson, Sheldon Brown, Ko Simpson and Johnathan Joseph, who took their skills to the NFL.
TWO FOR HAMPTON: Junior safety Chris Hampton is trying to fill the bill vacated by ball-hawk Ko Simpson. The Memphis product has responded with a pair of interceptions in the first two games, his first two career picks.
TWIN KILLINGS: The Brinkley brothers, linebacker Jasper and defensive end Casper, have made their presence felt in the first two games. Jasper is tied with Marvin Sapp for the team lead with 15 tackles, including a dozen solo stops, while Casper is tied for third on the squad with seven tackles, including five solos. Both are junior college transfers from Georgia Military College. Jasper arrived at South Carolina in January, while Casper was a summer arrival.
SAPP ATTACK: Linebacker Marvin Sapp stepped up with a team-high eight tackles, including six solo stops, in the loss to Georgia. The true sophomore from Jacksonville matched his career high with the eight stops, set at Auburn last season. He is tied with Jasper Brinkley for the team lead with 15 tackles.
YOUTH WILL BE SERVED: The Gamecocks list eight true freshman on their two-deep. On offense, quarterback Chris Smelley, left tackle Hutch Eckerson and right guard Garrett Anderson are all listed as second team players. The defense lists five true freshmen on the two-deep, including defensive end Eric Norwood, linebacker Rodney Paulk, cornerback Captain Munnerlyn and safeties Emanuel Cook and Darian Stewart.
NO AARP CARDS NEEDED HERE: The Gamecocks have just six seniors on the squad that came into the program as scholarship players. Only two – center Chris White and tight end Andy Boyd – are in their fifth-year in the program. The four-year players are wide receivers Syvelle Newton and Noah Whiteside and cornerback Fred Bennett, while safety Brandon Isaac came to USC via the junior college route. Only White, Newton and Bennett saw action in the season opener.
SECOND TO NONE: Gamecock fans are hoping that history will repeat itself. The second year of Steve Spurrier’s collegiate stops have been better than the first. After winning five games at Duke in 1987 he led the Blue Devils to a seven-win season in 1988. After winning nine games in 1990 at Florida, the Gators posted a 10-win campaign in 1991. Carolina posted seven victories in 2005. An eight-win season would be their best since the Gamecocks logged a 9-3 mark in 2001.
NEW FACES: Head coach Steve Spurrier made several changes on his coaching staff, both in personnel and in their duties heading into the 2006 campaign. Fred Chatham was hired to take over the tight ends and special teams. Chatham, who spent the past 17 years at Duke, was originally hired by Coach Spurrier for the Blue Devils in 1989. Brad Lawing is the Gamecocks’ new defensive line coach. Lawing is very familiar with USC, having coached in Columbia from 1989-98 under Sparky Woods and Brad Scott. Robert Gillespie begins his first season as the running backs coach after serving as a GA in 2005. Gillespie played for Coach Spurrier at Florida and with the Washington Redskins. Ron Cooper has been given the title of assistant head coach and works with the secondary. Tyrone Nix is the sole defensive coordinator after sharing that title last year, and works with the inside linebackers. Dave Wommack takes over the duties with the outside linebackers. David Reaves continues to assist the head coach with the quarterbacks and also assumes the recruiting coordinator position. John Hunt (offensive line) and Steve Spurrier, Jr. (wide receivers) retain their same positions from the 2005 staff.
EARNING THEIR KEEP: Prior to the start of the season, Head Coach Steve Spurrier placed five former walk-ons on scholarship. They include quarterback Brett Nichols, snapper Scott Morgan, offensive guard Thomas Coleman, offensive guard Seth Edwards and linebacker Greg Wright. Over the past two seasons, Coach Spurrier has rewarded nine walk-on players with scholarships.
WE’ll TAKE THE BALL: Since Head Coach Steve Spurrier took over at South Carolina, the Gamecocks have opened the game on offense in all but one contest. In only the Alabama game of 2005 did USC win the toss and defer to the second half. The Crimson Tide scored a touchdown on that opening possession. In every other contest, Carolina has received the opening kick. They have scored on the opening drive twice – putting seven points on the board via touchdown passes versus Central Florida and against Missouri in 2005.
BUILDING BLOCKS: The Gamecocks are coming off a 7-5 season in 2005, including a 5-3 mark in the Southeastern Conference that put them in second place in the SEC East Division. The Gamecocks won a school record five-straight SEC games to bounce back from an 0-3 start in league play. The winning streak including USC’s first win ever in Knoxville against Tennessee and its first win over Florida since 1939.
SECOND BEST: With a 5-3 conference record and a win over Florida, Carolina finished in second place in the SEC Eastern Division in 2005. It matched the Gamecocks’ highest league finish, as they also went 5-3 and tied for second in the 2000 season. That year there was a three-way tie for second (Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee) behind 7-1 Florida.
GOING BOWLING: The Gamecocks earned their way to the 2005 Independence Bowl where they suffered a 38-31 loss to the Missouri Tigers. It was USC’s first bowl appearance since the 2001 season, which ended in an Outback Bowl win over Ohio State. It was also just the 12th bowl game in 112 years of intercollegiate football for Carolina. Steve Spurrier joined Jim Carlen (1975) and Brad Scott (1994) as the only coaches who have led the Gamecocks to a bowl game in their first season as USC’s head coach. No head coach has led the Gamecocks to back-to-back bowl appearances in his first two seasons at Carolina.
BETTER OF LATE: After the 1998 and `99 seasons saw South Carolina win just once in 22 tries, the Gamecocks have turned the corner. Since the start of the 2000 season, USC has logged an overall record of 41-32. The 40 wins from 2000-2005 was just one win shy of the best six-year stretch in school history. The Gamecocks won 41 times from 1979-1984.
NEW DECADE, DIFFERENT RESULTS: The Gamecocks have posted a 41-32 record since the calendar turned to 2000. The 41 wins from 2000-2006 matches their total of 41 victories posted in the entire decade of the `90s. Carolina’s most victories in any decade is 63, set from 1980-89.
KEEPING IT ALIVE: Head Coach Steve Spurrier has said that the minimum goal this season is to win more games than they lose. If that would happen, it would be the Gamecocks their third straight winning campaign (6-5 in 2004 and 7-5 in 2005). The last time they turned in three consecutive winning seasons was 1988-90 when they went 8-4, 6-4-1 and 6-5 in consecutive years.
THE PIPELINE: The Gamecocks roster features four players who competed at Georgia Military College prior to the their arrival in Columbia. Both Jasper and Casper Brinkley, Joel Reaves and Brandon Isaac played for the Bulldogs, located in Milledgeville, Ga.
WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU?: They may wear black, but the Gamecocks are well-stocked with Brown.The roster features six players – none of whom are related – with the last name of Brown, including Freddie, Marquise, Moe, Ryan, Seaver and William.
PLAYING OT: The Gamecocks have played just one overtime game in its history, falling to Tennessee by a 23-20 margin in Knoxville on Sept. 27, 2003. Every other SEC team has played at least three overtime games since the rule was established in 1996.
BOWL TIE-INS: The SEC has arrangements to send eight teams to post-season bowls. They include: BCS, Capital One, AT&T, Cotton, Chick-fil-A, Outback, Autozone Liberty, Gaylord Hotels Music City and PetroSun Independence.
CAPTAINS: Seniors Chris White (center), Thomas Coleman (right guard) and Fred Bennett (cornerback) served as team captains in the opening game at Mississippi State. Cory Boyd (tailback), Jasper Brinkley (linebacker) and Scott Morgan (deep snapper) served as captains against Georgia.
BIG CHECK: Head Coach Steve Spurrier announced just prior to the start of the season that he and his wife, Jerri, would pledge $250,000 over the next five years to help the Carolina athletic department’s capital campaign. The Athletics Department is working on a master plan of facilities expected to be unveiled in October. The silent phase of a capital campaign is underway. The proceeds from the campaign will help underwrite new and improved facilities for the entire department.
UP NEXT: The Gamecocks stay out of conference when they entertain the Florida Atlantic Owls in a 7 p.m. contest at Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 23. It will be the first meeting ever between the Gamecocks and Owls. FAU is led by former Miami (Fla.) coach Howard Schnellenberger.