Nov. 3, 2006
SETTING THE STAGE: The South Carolina Gamecocks (5-3, 3-3 SEC) continue their SEC slate as they play host to the 12th-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks (7-1, 4-0 SEC) on Saturday, Nov. 4. Game time is set for 7:47 p.m. ET at Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250) in Columbia. The game will be televised by ESPN with Mike Patrick and Todd Blackledge in the booth and Holly Rowe on the sidelines. Todd Ellis and Tommy Suggs will be in the radio booth for the Carolina Gamecocks Sports Network, with Rob DeBoer working the sidelines. The game can also be heard on SIRIUS satellite radio channel 143.
WELCOME BACK: The ESPN crew will be on hand for the second straight week featuring Carolina in the 7:45 p.m. PrimeTime slot. It’s the Gamecocks sixth appearance in nine games on either ESPN (five times) or ESPN2 and the sixth of USC’s seven SEC games that is nationally-televised by the world-wide leader in sports.
ABOUT THE GAMECOCKS: South Carolina is 5-3 on the season, including a 3-3 mark in Southeastern Conference play. They are 3-0 on the road (wins at Mississippi State, Kentucky and Vanderbilt) and 2-3 at home, with non-conference wins over Wofford and Florida Atlantic and losses to nationally-ranked Georgia, Auburn and Tennessee. The Gamecocks rank 10th in the SEC and 69th in the country in scoring offense (22.9 ppg) and are fifth in the SEC and 21st in the country in scoring defense (16.1 ppg). The offense is led by senior quarterback Syvelle Newton, who took over the signal-calling duties in Game 3 of the season. He is averaging 252.0 yards of total offense per game since taking over the helm. He ranks 15th in the nation in pass efficiency at 152.3.
AND FOR THE RAZORBACKS: Arkansas is 7-1 overall and a perfect 4-0 in SEC action. They enter the game ranked 12th in the country in both the Associated Press and the USA TODAY/Coaches polls. The Hogs have won seven straight games after a season-opening loss to Southern California. Arkansas is third in the SEC and 19th in the country in scoring offense (31.4 ppg) and fourth in the SEC and 18th in the country in scoring defense (15.3 ppg). The Razorback offense, which ranks fifth in the nation in rushing at 235.4 yards per game, is led by the backfield duo of Darren McFadden (102.4 ypg) and Felix Jones (82.6 ypg).
SERIES NOTES: This is the 15th meeting between Carolina and Arkansas. The Razorbacks lead the all-time series, 8-6, but the Gamecocks holds a 4-3 advantage in games played in Columbia. The teams have met every year since 1992 when they joined the Southeastern Conference. USC won last year’s meeting in Fayetteville by a 14-10 score. The Gamecocks won the last meeting in Columbia by a 35-32 margin, snapping a three-game losing streak in the series.
SPURRIER VS. ARKANSAS: Steve Spurrier owns a 4-0 career record against Arkansas, winning twice in Fayetteville (42-7 in 1996 and 14-10 in 2005), once in Gainesville (56-7 in 1997) and once at a neutral site (34-3 in Atlanta in the 1995 SEC Championship Game). His teams have not allowed more than a touchdown in any of the four games, winning by an average score of 37-8. It probably didn’t hurt that two of those teams (1996 and 1997) were ranked No. 1 and the 1995 team was ranked second in the country when it defeated the Hogs.
A CAROLINA WIN OVER ARKANSAS WOULD…: * Be the Gamecocks third win in a row over the Razorbacks, something that has never been accomplished. * Keep Head Coach Steve Spurrier’s record perfect against Arkansas. He enters the game with a 4-0 mark against the Razorbacks. * Improve USC’s record to 7-8 all-time against the Razorbacks. * Give the Gamecocks six wins on the season, becoming bowl-eligible. Steve Spurrier would become the first coach in school history to lead his team to bowl appearances in each of his first two seasons. Carolina would become the eighth SEC team to gain bowl eligibility. * Guarantee USC at least a .500 mark in SEC action for the third straight year for the first time in school history.
IN THE MIDDLE OF SOMETHING BIG: Carolina is in the middle of the most difficult portion of its schedule. Beginning with last week’s game against Tennessee, four of the final five games on the Gamecocks’ schedule are against teams ranked in the top 20 in the country. The quartet of No. 8 Tennessee (7-1), No. 12 Arkansas (7-1), No. 7 Florida (7-1) and No. 19 Clemson (7-2) have combined to post a 28-5 record through the end of October. Overall, USC’s 2006 opponents have combined for a 64-37 record, a .634 winning percentage. Six of the 11 Division I opponents are already bowl-eligible. Assuming that Florida will remain ranked next week, this is the first time that Carolina will face three straight ranked opponents since the end of the 2000 season (loss to No. 5 Florida, loss to No. 16 Clemson, win over No. 19 Ohio State).
PLAYING A RANKED OPPONENT: This is the fourth test of the season for the Gamecocks against a ranked opponent. All four games have been held in the confines of Williams-Brice Stadium. Carolina dropped an 18-0 decision to Georgia, who was ranked 12th in the country (AP) at that time, fell to second-ranked Auburn, 24-17, then dropped a 31-24 decision to eighth-ranked Tennessee last week. Last season, Carolina was 2-1 against ranked opponents, knocking off No. 23 Tennessee and No. 12 Florida after losing to No. 9 Georgia.
SPURRIER AGAINST THE BEST: Steve Spurrier owns a 47-33-1 record when facing ranked opponents in his career, including wins in 13 of his last 20 opportunities. He has an 11-12 mark when facing teams ranked in the top five in the country. The last top-5 team he defeated was second-ranked Tennessee on Sept. 18, 1999 (23-21). He is 2-4 against nationally-ranked teams since taking over at Carolina, with wins over Tennessee and Florida and losses to Georgia (twice), Auburn and Tennessee.
THE LAST TIME OUT: The Gamecocks won the statistical battle but lost the game in a 31-24 setback to eighth-ranked Tennessee last Saturday night in Columbia. Carolina outgained the Vols, 395-325, including a 165-71 advantage on the ground. Tennessee took advantage of three Gamecock turnovers, including an interception return for a touchdown, and also won the special teams battle to escape with the win. Syvelle Newton threw for 230 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 85 yards and another score to keep the Gamecocks in the contest. Ryan Succop hit a 50-yard field goal. SEEMS LIKE THE FIRST TIME: Several “firsts” were recorded against Tennessee. Mike West scored his first touchdown, hauling in an 18-yard pass from Syvelle Newton. Justin Sorensen made his first career start, getting the nod at right tackle. Redshirt freshman Freddie Brown made his first career reception, a 21-yarder.
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: Safeties Brandon Isaac (left shoulder), Ty Erving (knee) and Nick Prochak (left shoulder), defensive tackle Marque Hall (left knee), offensive guard Kevin Young (left shoulder), offensive tackle Gurminder Thind (right foot) and defensive end Terrence Campbell (left knee) have been lost for the 2006 campaign due to season-ending injuries.
FOR STARTERS: The Gamecocks have started six true freshmen (offensive tackle Hutch Eckerson, offensive guard Garrett Anderson, linebacker Rodney Paulk, cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, safety Emanuel Cook, wide receiver Moe Brown) and three redshirt freshmen (tight end Jared Cook, tailback Taylor Rank and wide receiver Freddie Brown) this season. Overall, 18 players have made their first collegiate start in 2006 for Carolina.
FRESH FISH: The Gamecocks have played 11 of the 18 true freshmen scholarship players who joined the team in the fall. Those who have seen action include: Garrett Anderson (4 starts), Moe Brown (1 start), Emanuel Cook (3 starts), Hutch Eckerson (5 starts), Chris Hail, Captain Munnerlyn (1 start), Eric Norwood, Rodney Paulk (5 starts), Vandaral Shackleford, Chris Smelley and Darian Stewart. Those headed for a redshirt include Pierre Andrews, Heath Batchelor, Seaver Brown, Terrence Campbell, Kenrick Ellis, Nick Prochak, and Kevin Young.
ROAD WARRIORS: The Gamecocks have won a school-record five straight conference road games. They have had their share of success winning on the road in the SEC over the past three seasons, boasting an impressive 8-3 record in that time (3-1 in 2004, 2-2 in 2005 and 3-0 in 2006). They trail only Auburn (10-1), Georgia (9-3) and Tennessee (8-2) in conference road success since the start of the 2004 season.
BALANCED ATTACK: The Gamecocks rank fifth in the SEC in passing offense and sixth in the league in rushing offense. They join Florida (fourth in pass offense and fifth in rush offense) and LSU (second in pass offense and third in rush offense) as the only three teams to rank in the top half of the league in both categories.
NUMBERS UP: With Syvelle Newton getting more comfortable in his role as the signal-caller, the USC offense has been much more productive, especially in the running game and in third down conversions: Gm. 1-2 Gm. 3-5 Gm. 6-8 Points 15 89 79 Points/Game 7.5 29.7 26.3 Total Yards 529 1202 1105 Yards/Game 264.5 400.7 368.3 Rushing Yards 116 474 549 Rushing Yards/Game 58.0 158.0 183.0 Passing Yards 413 728 556 Passing Yards/Game 206.5 242.7 185.3 3rd Down Conversions 7-24 17-39 20-36 3rd Down Percentage 29.2 43.6 55.6
WINNING THE THIRD-DOWN WAR: As the numbers indicate, the Gamecocks have improved dramatically in third down situations, converting 44 percent (44-of-99) of their opportunities this season, which is tied for third in the SEC. That’s up from 34 percent from a year ago. The Gamecocks have also done a good job in those same situations on defense, holding their opponents to just 30.0 percent (30-of-100) on third-down conversions, which ranks third in the SEC and 13th in the nation. That’s down from 41 percent in 2005.
PUNT IS A FOUR-LETTER WORD: And one that Steve Spurrier has not uttered much this season. The Gamecocks have punted just 21 times in eight games, the fewest number in the SEC. Six of those 21 punts came in the season opener at Mississippi State. USC punted three times against Tennessee after punting just four times in the previous three games combined. Only Hawaii (12) and West Virginia (15 in 7 games) have punted fewer times than South Carolina in Division I football. Louisville has also punted 21 times, but in seven games.
NEWTON’S LAW: Senior Syvelle Newton moved into the quarterback position for the first time this season against Wofford in Game 3. It was his first start at that position since the final game of the 2004 campaign. Newton started five games at quarterback that season, getting the nod against South Florida, Ole Miss, Kentucky, Florida and Clemson. He is 4-2 as a starter this season and owns a career mark of 6-5 as a starter.
NEWTON’S NUMBERS: Syvelle Newton is 88-of-143 (61.5 percent) for 1,240 yards with 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season. He has a quarterback rating of 152.28, the third-best mark in the SEC and the 15th best mark in the nation. For his career, Newton has completed 163-of-281 passes (58.0 percent) for 2,398 yards and 20 touchdowns.
RARE TRIFECTA: Syvelle Newton has passed for 2,398 yards, rushed 208 times for 771 yards and has caught 60 passes for 666 yards. He has accounted for 33 touchdowns in his career – 20 passing, 10 rushing and three receiving. Research from other SID’s around the country has turned up just three names who have surpassed the 600-600-600 mark in the history of college football – Georgia’s Hines Ward (1063 rushing, 918 passing, 1965 receiving), former SMU great Kyle Rote (2049 rushing, 648 passing, 734 receiving) and University of Ohio’s Dave Juenger (770 rushing, 1,207 passing and 1,111 receiving).
RE-WRITING THE RECORD BOOK: The Syvelle Newton to Sidney Rice combination hit paydirt a school record five times against FAU. Rice became the first player in Carolina history to score five TDs in a game, surpassing the old mark of four, held by Mike Dingle and Stanley Pritchett. The five touchdown catches in a game also tied the SEC record, set by Carlos Carson of LSU against Rice in 1977. The 30-point scored by Rice ties for the fourth-highest single game total in SEC history.
A HELPING OF RICE: After being held to just five catches for 44 yards in the season’s first two games, All-America candidate Sidney Rice turned it up a notch in wins over Wofford and FAU. Rice caught seven passes for a 151 yards, against the Terriers, then caught nine passes for 161 yards and five touchdowns in just over a half against the Owls. Rice has gone over the century mark in receiving yards in eight of his last 15 games. Only Sterling Sharpe (10) has more 100-yard receiving games in school history. Here are his 100-yard performances: Rice’s 100-Yard Receiving Games Date Opponent Rec. Yards TD 12/31/05 Missouri 12 191 1 09/23/06 Florida Atlantic 9 161 5 09/16/06 Wofford 7 151 0 10/21/05 Vanderbilt 8 132 3 10/07/05 Kentucky 8 125 2 11/25/05 Clemson 7 122 0 10/28/05 Tennessee 8 112 2 11/11/05 Florida 5 112 0
MORE RICE PLEASE: Sidney Rice set the school’s single-season record for receiving yards (1,143) and touchdown catches (13) in 2005. He has caught a touchdown pass in 11 of his 19 career games. He ranks 10th in the SEC in receptions per game (4.50) and in receiving yards per game (70.0). He became the 10th player in school history with 100 career receptions and tied the career touchdowns receiving leaders with 19 in the win at Vanderbilt. After just 19 games, he is quickly moving up the USC charts: Carolina Career Receptions Leaders No. Player Years Rec. 1. Sterling Sharpe 1983, 85-87 169 2. Zola Davis 1995-98 164 3. Robert Brooks 1988-91 156 4. Jermale Kelly 1997-00 153 5. Fred Zeigler 1967-69 146 6. Stanley Pritchett 1992-95 116 7. Brandon Bennett 1991-94 111 8. Ryan Brewer 1999-02 107 9. Sidney Rice 2005-06 106 10. Philip Logan 1974-77 105
Carolina Career Receiving Yards Leaders No. Player Years Yards 1. Sterling Sharpe 1983, 85-87 2,497 2. Zola Davis 1995-98 2,354 3. Robert Brooks 1988-91 2,211 4. Jermale Kelly 1997-00 2,181 5. Philip Logan 1974-77 2,063 6. Fred Zeigler 1967-69 1,876 7. Troy Williamson 2002-04 1,754 8. Sidney Rice 2005-06 1,614 9. Ira Hillary 1981-84 1,566 10. Brian Scott 1999-01 1,506
Carolina Career Receiving Touchdown Leaders No. Player Years TDs 1. Robert Brooks 1988-91 19 Jermale Kelly 1997-00 19 Sidney Rice 2005-06 19 4. Sterling Sharpe 1983, 1985-87 17 Zola Davis 1995-98 17
BOYD CARRIES THE LOAD: Cory Boyd established career highs in carries (25) and yards rushing (113) in the win at Kentucky, then came back with a 22-carry, 113-yard performance at Vanderbilt. They are the first two 100-yard rushing day of his career. He became the first USCback to rush for 100+ yards in consecutive games against SEC opponents since Derek Watson rushed for 100+ in three straight games in 2000. Boyd became the 36th player in USC history to rush for over 1,000 yards in a career against Tennessee. He ranks sixth in the SEC in both rushing (72.4 ypg) and all-purpose yards (108.3 ypg). Here are his 2006 numbers: Gm. 1-5 Gm. 6-8 Season Carries 37 64 101 Yards 212 295 507 Yards Per Game* 53.0 98.3 72.4 Yards Per Carry 5.7 4.6 5.0 Touchdowns 3 1 4 *Note: Boyd did not play against FAU.
BOYD AMONG MEN: In addition to rushing for over 1,000 yards in his career (now with 1,048 yards), Cory Boyd has caught 69 passes for 743 yards. With one more reception he will become just the fourth player in school history to log 1,000 yards rushing and 70 receptions. The others? Stanley Pritchett (1,178 yards rushing, 116 receptions), Brandon Bennett (3,055 yards rushing, 111 receptions) and Harold Green (3,005 yards rushing, 94 receptions).
THREE REACH THE CENTURY MARK: Cory Boyd became the third player on the Gamecocks’ roster to rush for 100 yards in a game when he eclipsed the mark with his 113-yard effort against Kentucky. He doubled his total with another 113-yard performance at Vanderbilt. Sophomore Mike Davis went over the 100-yard plateau twice last season (125 yards versus Missouri and 111 against Clemson). His high this season is 92 against Florida Atlantic. Redshirt freshman Taylor Rank rushed for 101 yards against FAU earlier this season. Syvelle Newton’s top rushing game is 94 yards against Ole Miss in 2004. The last USC quarterback to rush for 100 yards in a game was Corey Jenkins (101) against Georgia on Sept. 14, 2002.
BREAKING DOWN BENNETT: All-America cornerback candidate Fred Bennett serves as the leader on the defense. With 29 starts under his belt, Bennett has made more starts than the next two defensive players (Chris Hampton-13 and Stanley Doughty-12) have combined. Of the four returning defensive starters, Bennett is the lone regular starter this year. Mike West has moved to receiver, Doughty has been a part-time starter and Jordin Lindsey is working with the second team.
BENNETT BREAK-UPS: Fred Bennett is tied for second in the SEC in passes defended with nine, including a pair of interceptions. The senior from Manning, S.C. who picked off three passes a year ago has nine career interceptions. With a big finish, 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.
TWIN KILLINGS: The Brinkley brothers, linebacker Jasper and defensive end Casper, have made their presence felt. Jasper is the team leader with 57 tackles, including 47 solo stops, while Casper (the SEC defensive lineman of the week against Vanderbilt) is tied for third on the squad with 28 tackles, including 15 solos. They have combined for 85 tackles, including 15 tackles for loss (a team-leading 7.5 each). Jasper ranks eighth in the SEC with an average of 7.1 tackles per game. Both are junior college transfers from Georgia Military College. Jasper arrived at USC in January, while Casper was a summer arrival.
FRESHMAN RUSH: True freshman Eric Norwood is quickly making a name for himself as a pass rusher. He leads the team and is 10th in the SEC with 4.5 sacks and is third on the squad with 6.5 tackles for loss. He has the most sacks for Carolina since George Gause had 5.0 in 2004.
SUCCOP SUCCESS: Sophomore punter Ryan Succop has proven to be a worthy weapon in the special teams arena. He is averaging 44.5 yards per punt, which ranks third in the SEC and would rank 12th in the nation with enough attempts. Succop owns a long punt of 58 yards.
HERE’S THE KICKER: Ryan Succop also handles the placekicking chores for the Gamecocks. He has hit on 10-of-11 field goal attempts, including a career-long 55-yarder against Vanderbilt and missing only from 51 yards when he bounced it off the left upright against Georgia. Six of his 10 field goals have come from beyond 40 yards. He hit a 50-yarder against Tennessee, becoming just the fourth player in school history to hit more than one 50-yarder in a career, joining Scott Hagler (3), Mark Fleetwood (2) and Collin Mackie (2). He was named the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week following his effort in the season-opening win at Mississippi State. Here are the nation’s top field goal percentage leaders (minimum 10 attempts):
Rk. Player, Team FGM-FGA Pct. 1. Brandon Pace, Virginia Tech 10-10 1.000 2. Garrett Hartley, Oklahoma 14-15 .933 3. Patrick Shadle, Syracuse 13-14 .929 4. Arthur Carmody, Louisville 11-12 .917 Brian Jackson, Ball State 11-12 .917 6. Ryan Succop, South Carolina 10-11 .909 Mario Danelo, Southern Calif. 10-11 .909 8. Justin Medlock, UCLA 18-20 .900
SUCCOP NAMED GROZA SEMIFINALIST: Sophomore placekicker Ryan Succop was named this week as one of 20 semifinalist for the national Lou Groza Award.
FIRST COME, FIRST SERVED: Since Steve Spurrier’s arrival, the Gamecocks are 7-0 in SEC action when they score first and 1-6 when the opponents score first. Overall, they are 11-2 when tallying the game’s first points and are 1-6 when the opponents score first. The lone win when their opponents scored first came at Vandy.
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 quarterback Syvelle Newton, wide receiver Noah Whiteside and cornerback Fred Bennett, while safety Brandon Isaac came to USC via the junior college route. Of those six, Boyd has been sidelined much of the year with a shoulder injury, Whiteside has seen very limited duty and Isaac is redshirting while recovering from shoulder surgery. Only Kentucky and Florida State have as few of seniors that entered their programs on scholarship.
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.
WE’LL TAKE THE BALL: In a rare occurrence, the Gamecocks won the coin toss at Vanderbilt and elected to defer to the second half. It was only the second time since Head Coach Steve Spurrier took over at South Carolina that the Gamecocks have opened the game on defense. The only previous occurrence came against Alabama in 2005. The Gamecocks have scored on their opening drive three times – putting seven points on the board via touchdown passes versus Central Florida and against Missouri in 2005 and against Florida Atlantic in 2006.
BICENTENNIAL MAN: Steve Spurrier recorded his 200th career win as a head coach at Kentucky on Oct. 7. He owns a 201-87-2 mark in all games, including stints in college – Duke (20-13-1), Florida (122-27-1) and South Carolina (12-8); the USFL – Tampa Bay (35-19); and the NFL – Washington (12-20). The win over FAU earlier this season marked the 200th game as a collegiate head coach for the head ball coach. He owns a 154-48-2 mark through the first 204 collegiate contests, a .760 winning clip. He ranks ninth among active coaches in wins and in winning percentage.
GAME CAPTAINS: Carolina selects game captains for each contest. Here are those game captains: Mississippi State: Chris White (center), Thomas Coleman (right guard) and Fred Bennett (cornerback). Georgia: Cory Boyd (tailback), Jasper Brinkley (linebacker) and Scott Morgan (deep snapper). Wofford: Syvelle Newton (quarterback), Ryan Brown (linebacker) and Ryan Succop (kicker). Florida Atlantic: Sidney Rice (wide receiver), Casper Brinkley (defensive end) and Yvan Banag (safety). Auburn: Sidney Rice (wide receiver), Fred Bennett (cornerback) and Jasper Brinkley (linebacker). Kentucky: Syvelle Newton (quarterback), Ryan Succop (kicker) and Jordin Lindsey (defensive end). Vanderbilt: Fred Bennett (cornerback), Ike Crofoot (holder/snapper) and Chris White (center). Tennessee: Lanard Stafford (fullback), Casper Brinkley (defensive end) and Ryan Succop (kicker).
A LITTLE HISTORY: This is the 113th season of college football at the USC, 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 512-515-44. The school’s only league title came in 1969 when it went 6-0 to win the ACC crown. 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, short 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.
NEW DECADE, DIFFERENT RESULTS: The Gamecocks have posted a 45-34 record since the calendar turned to 2000. The 45 wins from 2000-2006 is four more than the 41 victories posted in the entire decade of the `90s. Carolina’s most victories in any decade is 63, set from 1980-89.
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 45-34. 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.
UP NEXT: It will be a homecoming of sorts as South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier returns to “The Swamp” where he will lead the Gamecocks against nationally-ranked Florida. Carolina upset the Gators by a 30-22 score in Columbia last season, but Florida leads the all-time series, 19-4-3. South Carolina has never won in Gainesville, returning home with a loss in each of their 10 previous trips.