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Oct. 30, 2009

Scene Setter
Andy & Jill’s Walkthrough

The 21st-ranked University of South Carolina Gamecocks (6-2, 3-2 SEC) stay in the SEC Eastern Division for the second straight week as they travel to Knoxville to face the Tennessee Volunteers (3-4, 1-3 SEC) on Saturday, October 31, at Neyland Stadium. The game is set for a national ESPN broadcast with kickoff at 7:52 p.m. Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge and Erin Andrews will describe the action. The Gamecocks look to move to 3-1 against SEC East opponents after defeating Vanderbilt last Saturday in Columbia, 14-10. The Vols, meanwhile, aim to get back on track after a narrow defeat at No. 1 Alabama last week, 12-10. A win would give Carolina consecutive victories over UT for the first time ever; the Gamecocks won last year’s meeting in Columbia, 27-6.


• Head coach Steve Spurrier is 11-7 all-time against Tennessee, 2-2 as head coach at South Carolina.

• The Gamecocks are 1-13 all-time at Neyland Stadium with the lone victory coming in 2005, Coach Spurrier’s first season at Carolina.

• A win today would give Coach Spurrier his 106th conference win as an SEC head coach, tying him with Johnny Vaught (106) for second all-time, trailing only Bear Bryant (159).

• Senior wide receiver Moe Brown is only 43 yards away from 1,000 receiving yards in his career. He would become the 22nd player at South Carolina to achieve that milestone.

• Stephen Garcia moved into 14th all-time at Carolina in passing yards with 2,606 for his career, passing Dan Reeves and Mike Fair on Saturday against Vanderbilt. Next on the list is Ron Bass (from Remember the Titans fame) at 2,933.

• Eric Norwood is tied with Derrick Harvey for eighth in SEC history in tackles for loss with 51.5. With 2.0 vs. Vanderbilt, he passed Florida’s Huey Richardson (50.5) and Tennessee’s Reggie White (51.0) on the all-time list.

A South Carolina win over Tennessee would…

* Give the Gamecocks consecutive victories over Tennessee for the first time ever.

* Guarantee a winning season for the second straight year and the fourth time in the five-year Spurrier era.

* Give coach Steve Spurrier his 106th career conference win as an SEC head coach, tying him with Johnny Vaught for second all-time. Only Bear Bryant (159) has more.

* Give the Gamecocks a 7-2 record for the first time since 2001.

* Guarantee at least a .500 conference record for the second straight year with their fourth SEC victory. The Gamecocks have finished .500 or better in SEC play only six times since joining the league in 1992.

* Give the Gamecocks 28 wins over the last four years, tying the school record for wins in a four-year period. The Gamecocks also won 28 from 1987-90 (8, 8, 6, 6) and from 2005-08 (7, 8, 6, 7).


This is the 28th meeting all-time between South Carolina and Tennessee. The Volunteers hold a 21-4-2 all-time advantage, including a 13-1 edge in games played in Knoxville. Carolina won the last meeting, 27-6, in Columbia on Nov. 1, 2008. The last trip to Knoxville saw the Gamecocks drop an overtime heartbreaker, 27-24, on Oct. 27, 2007. South Carolina has only won once in Knoxville – on Oct. 29, 2005. Josh Brown hit a 45-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter to give Carolina a 16-15 win in Coach Spurrier’s first season at the helm.


South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier owns an 11-7 career record against Tennessee, including a 5-5 mark in Knoxville. He is the only coach to take three different schools (Duke, Florida and South Carolina) into Knoxville and leave with a victory. He faced the Vols every year from 1988 to 2001, the first two with Duke (where he was 1-1) and the final 12 when he was the head coach at Florida (8-4). Tennessee is one of seven schools against which he has posted double figures in wins. He also owns double-figure career wins over Kentucky (17), Vanderbilt (15), Georgia (12), LSU (11), Auburn (10) and South Carolina (10).


South Carolina is a nationally-ranked squad for the fourth straight week. After their win over Vanderbilt on Saturday, the Gamecocks moved up two spots to No. 21 in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches’ polls, which were released Sunday. It’s the highest ranking for South Carolina since the ninth week of the 2007 season, when the Gamecocks were rated No. 15. Coincidentally, that week’s opponent – at Tennessee. The Gamecocks are 22nd in the BCS Standings.


South Carolina has amassed a 4-1 mark in contests decided by a touchdown or less this season. The Gamecocks have wins over NC State (7-3), Ole Miss (16-10), Kentucky (28-26) and Vanderbilt (14-10) by six points or less. The only single-digit defeat came in a 41-37 loss at Georgia. Last season, Carolina did not have any of its 13 games decided by less than seven points, although five were by exactly seven points (2-3).


Freshman Stephen Garcia threw two touchdown passes and South Carolina defeated Tennessee 27-6 on Nov. 1, 2008, in Columbia. Garcia passed for 139 yards and his two scoring throws before a third-quarter knee injury sent him to the sidelines. It was the Gamecocks’ first win over the Vols at home in 16 years. Tennessee’s offense had no solution for South Carolina’s top-rated SEC defense. Gamecocks cornerback Stoney Woodson jumped in front of a Nick Stephens’ pass and took it 68 yards for a touchdown to give South Carolina, at 14-0, its largest lead ever over the Vols in 16 years in the SEC. Garcia hit Kenny McKinley on a slant pattern for another score and a 21-0 lead. The Vols could only muster two second-half field goals as the Gamecocks got their biggest win over UT since the teams’ initial meeting in 1903 (a 24-0 Carolina victory).


The 15th-ranked Gamecocks spotted Tennessee a 21-0 halftime lead, roared back to take a 24-21 lead with just over a minute remaining in regulation, but could not hold on as the Vols escaped with a 27-24 overtime victory on Oct. 27, 2007. The Gamecocks dominated the statistics, rolling up a season-high 501 yards, 31 first downs and 36:25 time of possession to Tennessee’s 317 yards, 16 first downs and 23:35, but four Carolina turnovers proved to be the difference. Ryan Succop, who hit from 49-yards out with just 1:54 remaining in regulation, missed a game-tying 40-yard field goal in OT after Tennessee’s Daniel Lincoln connected from 27 yards.


Stephen Garcia threw two touchdown passes and No. 23 South Carolina ended Vanderbilt’s two-game series win streak with a 14-10 victory last Saturday night. Garcia connected with freshman Alshon Jeffery on a 43-yard TD pass with 12:51 remaining for the winning score, capping a 99-yard drive. Earlier, freshman D.L. Moore caught a 35-yard touchdown from Garcia. The Commodores got the ball one last time with 4 minutes left and drove to South Carolina’s 25. However, quarterback Larry Smith was called for intentional grounding on 3rd down, then did not get close to the necessary yardage on fourth-and-32. Ryan Fowler’s 21-yard field goal in the third quarter put the Commodores ahead 10-7 and for a while, it looked like a mix of stellar defense and special teams play would keep them out front. Garcia completed 22 of 33 passes for 312 yards. Freshman tailback Kenny Miles had 102 yards rushing on 18 carries. while Jeffery finished with 161 receiving yards.


The Gamecocks have had three 100-yard rushing games this season, all by freshmen – Kenny Miles against Kentucky (100) and Vanderbilt (102) and Jarvis Giles versus Florida Atlantic (113). Last season, Mike Davis logged the only 100-yard rushing game, going for 101 against NC State in the season opener. The Gamecocks also have had four 100-yard receiving games this season – Tori Gurley against Florida Atlantic (100), Moe Brown versus South Carolina State (100), and Alshon Jeffery against both Kentucky (138) and Vanderbilt (161).


When Stephen Garcia threw for 312 yards, Kenny Miles rushed for 102 yards and Alshon Jeffery logged 161 receiving yards against Vanderbilt last week, they became the first Gamecock trio to go 300-100-100 in a game since September 28, 1996 when three future NFL players – Anthony Wright (351 yards passing), Duce Staley (100 yards rushing) and Marcus Robinson (189 yards receiving) accomplished the feat in a 14-10 loss to Mississippi State at Williams-Brice Stadium.


Not only are the Gamecocks currently touting three Top-25 teams (football – No. 21, women’s soccer – No. 8, men’s golf – No. 10), but the Carolina student-athletes have gotten it done in the classroom as well. South Carolina has led the SEC in student-athletes on the academic honor roll for five consecutive semesters. They placed 24 football players on the 2008 SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll. In the spring of 2009, Steve Spurrier’s Gamecock squad posted its highest team GPA on record. Eric Norwood was honored at the spring game as the Harris Pastides Scholar-Athlete Award winner for football, while Kenny Miles, Addison Williams and Scott Spurrier were honored as recipients of the Harold White GPA Award. As part of its commitment towards academic success, the Gamecocks will move into the Dodie Anderson Academic Enrichment Center in the spring of 2010. “The Dodie,” named for Dolores F. Anderson of Greer, S.C., is a three-story, 40,000-square foot center located in the Roost footprint.


Senior linebacker Eric Norwood was named to the first-team Midseason All-America teams by Phil Steele, Sports Illustrated and Sporting News, it was announced last week. In addition, he was named to Steele’s 2009 Midseason All-SEC first team. Defensive end Cliff Matthews and punter Spencer Lanning earned spots on the All-SEC second team, while safety Chris Culliver was a third-team All-SEC selection.


The Gamecocks rank fifth in the SEC and 37th in the country in turnover margin at plus-4 (13 takeaways – eight fumbles and five interceptions – and nine turnovers – five fumbles and four interceptions). While that might not seem impressive, through eight games last season, the Gamecocks were 10th in the league and 110th in the country with a turnover margin of minus-9. Through eight games in 2008, the Gamecocks had one more takeaway with 14 but had committed 23 turnovers, 14 more than this season to date. Saturday’s win over Vanderbilt was the first time all season that the Gamecocks played a contest where neither team committed a turnover.


With the win over Vanderbilt, the Gamecocks are guaranteed at least a .500 regular-season record for the sixth straight year. Prior to this season, the Gamecocks went 6-5 in 2004, 7-5 in 2005, 8-5 in 2006, 6-6 in 2007 and 7-6 in 2008. It’s the first time they have accomplished that since 1928-34.


•The Gamecocks have posted seven straight wins at Williams-Brice Stadium, defeating Tennessee and Arkansas last season and topping Florida Atlantic, Ole Miss, South Carolina State, Kentucky and Vanderbilt to start the 2009 campaign. The last time the Gamecocks won at least seven straight games at home was from the 1986-88 seasons when they posted 13 straight home wins. That streak, oddly enough, started following a loss to Florida State, then was snapped with another loss to the Seminoles.

•For the first time ever, South Carolina has defeated five straight SEC opponents at home. The streak started with a win over Tennessee on Nov. 1, 2008, followed by a win over Arkansas the next week. The streak continued in 2009 with wins over Ole Miss, Kentucky and Vanderbilt. A win over Florida on Nov. 14 would make the Gamecocks undefeated in SEC play at home during a season for the first time ever.


Head coach Steve Spurrier and his staff must be coming up with some key halftime adjustments or inspirational speeches, as the Gamecocks have come out like gangbusters in the third quarter this season. Carolina has outscored its opponents by a 64-16 margin in the third stanza, easily their highest scoring quarter and their fewest points allowed quarter. The Gamecocks have outscored their opponents by 45 points this season, but have a 48-point edge in the third quarter.


The Gamecocks will play their final road contest of the season on Saturday, Nov. 7, as they make the long trek to Fayetteville, Ark., to face the Arkansas Razorbacks. Kickoff is set for 12:21 p.m. at Reynolds Razorback Stadium with the game to be televised on the SEC Network.