Sept. 21, 2012
The South Carolina Gamecocks (3-0, 1-0 SEC) return to SEC action when they play the final game of this three-game homestand against the Missouri Tigers (2-1, 0-1 SEC) on Saturday, September 22, at Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250). The game will be televised on CBS with Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson in the booth and Tracy Wolfson working the sidelines. Sports USA has the national radio broadcast with John Ahlers and Gary Barnett describing the action. It marks the first time these schools have met as SEC Eastern Division rivals and also the first time that the Tigers have visited Columbia, S.C.
A LITTLE HISTORY: 2012 marks the 119th season of intercollegiate football at the University of South Carolina, dating back to 1892. It is the 106th-consecutive year in which South Carolina has competed on the gridiron. The university did not field a team in either 1893 or 1906. Carolina is 14 games over the .500 mark with an all-time record of 557-543-44. The Gamecocks were nine games under .500 until head coach Steve Spurrier took the reins in 2005, but are 23 games over since.
VS. MIZZOU: Missouri leads the all-time series against Carolina by a 2-0 margin. Both previous contests were held at bowl sites, with Missouri posting a 24-14 win in the 1979 Hall of Fame Bowl in Birmingham, and a 38-31 come-from-behind win in the 2005 Independence Bowl in Shreveport.
SPURRIER VS. THE TIGERS: Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier is 0-1 in his career against Missouri, a 38-31 loss to Gary Pinkel and Mizzou in Shreveport in the 2005 Independence Bowl, the final game of Coach Spurrier’s first season with the Gamecocks.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: Missouri overcame deficits of 21-0 and 28-7 in rallying for a 38-31 win on Dec. 30 2005 in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La. Sidney Rice had a career day for Carolina, racking up a dozen receptions for 191 yards. Blake Mitchell completed 20-of-38 passes for 266 yards but was picked off three times, including one that was returned 99 yards for a touchdown. The Gamecocks had no answer for Mizzou quarterback Brad Smith, especially in the second half. Smith completed 21-of-37 passes for 282 yards and rushed 21 times for 150 yards. He was responsible for four touchdowns, including three on the ground. For more on the game, see page 11.
THE FIRST TIME THEY MET: Missouri handed Carolina a 24-14 setback on Dec. 28, 1979 in the third annual Hall of Fame Bowl in Birmingham. The Gamecocks scored on their first possession, but the Tigers rallied with 17 second-quarter points and never looked back. All-Big Eight quarterback Phil Bradley was named the game’s MVP while George Rogers, who carried 25 times for 133 yards, was tabbed as the Offensive Player of the Game. For more on the game, see page 10.
STREAKING INTO THE RECORD BOOKS: The Gamecocks have stretched their winning streak to seven games dating back to last season, the longest winning streak since they put together a school record nine-game stretch to open the 1984 season. The seven-game winning streak matches the second-longest in school history. They also won seven straight from the final four games of the 1958 season through the first three games of the `59 campaign. There have been seven winning streaks of six games or more in school history, including two during the Spurrier Era. Here are the top streaks:
Consecutive Wins – Year(s)
9 – 1984
7 – Current
6 – 1987, 1988, 2000-01, 2006-07
HOT AS THEY COME: The Gamecocks’ seven-game winning streak ties for the third-longest current winning streak in the country. TCU holds the longest current winning streak at 10 games, followed by Baylor at eight games. South Carolina is tied with Alabama for the third-longest current winning streak at seven games.
THE HEAD BALL COACH: Steve Spurrier is in his eighth season directing the Gamecock football program. He has logged a 58-35 mark (.624) in Columbia. Coach Spurrier needs seven wins to take sole possession as the school’s all-time leader in career victories. The Head Ball Coach ranks second on the school’s all-time wins list with 58 behind only Rex Enright (64) and third in games coached with 93 behind Enright (140) and Paul Dietzel (96). Spurrier owns a 200-75-2 mark (.726) in 23 seasons as a collegiate head coach, with stops at Duke and Florida before his stint at South Carolina.
TOPS IN HIS FIELD: Steve Spurrier became just the 71st head college football coaches (all divisions) and the 22nd in Division I history to record 200 wins when he accomplished that feat against UAB. For a complete list of coaches, see page 10 of these game notes.
CLOSING IN ON 250: In addition to his 200 wins as a college coach, Steve Spurrier has an additional 47 wins as a head coach at the professional level, 35 with Tampa Bay in the USFL and 12 with Washington in the NFL. He needs just three wins to notch No. 250 in his career.
UNCHARTED TERRITORY: Head coach Steve Spurrier has taken the Gamecocks to six bowl games in his seven-year tenure. The Gamecocks have been bowl-eligible in all seven of his seasons in Columbia, but were not selected following the 2007 season with a 6-6 record. No other coach in Carolina history has taken the Gamecocks to more than three bowl games (Jim Carlen and Joe Morrison). Coach Spurrier is 2-4 in bowl games at South Carolina. He and Lou Holtz are the only Gamecock coaches to post two bowl victories.
GOOD HOME COOKIN’: The Gamecocks have done an excellent job of protecting their home turf of late and will put a six-game home winning streak on the line against Missouri. The Gamecocks were 6-1 at home in 2011, the third straight year in which they won six-of-seven home contests. The only home losses in the last three years came to top-ranked Florida in 2009, to 17th-ranked Arkansas in 2010 and to defending national champion Auburn in 2011. Carolina is 22-3 in its last 25 home games.
GAINING THE SWEEP: The Gamecocks are 1-0 against SEC Eastern Division foes this season, winning the season opener at Vanderbilt. They posted a perfect 5-0 mark against SEC Eastern Division rivals in 2011, a first in school history. They have won nine straight and 10 of their last 11 contests within the division. They had never won more than four games in the division prior to Coach Spurrier’s arrival. He has posted four or more wins in the division three times in seven seasons:
IN THE POLLS: The Gamecocks have been ranked in the Associated Press Top-25 for 35 consecutive polls, starting with to the second week of the 2010 season. That is the longest consecutive streak in school history. According to research compiled by “The Blitz,” South Carolina was ranked in the A.P. poll 148 times from 1936-2011, 14 times as a member of the ACC (1936-1970), 57 times as a Independent (1971-1991) and 77 times since joining the SEC prior to the 2012 season (1992-2011).
THE BEST FINISH ON RECORD: The Gamecocks finished the 2011 season ranked ninth in the final Associated Press poll, the first time they have finished the season in the Top-10. The 2010 and `11 Gamecocks finished among the nation’s Top-25 in back-to-back years for just the second time in history, joining the 2000 and 2001 squads under Lou Holtz. Here are South Carolina’s final AP Top-25 rankings:
YEAR FINAL AP1958 131984 111987 152000 192001 132010 222011 9
AND NOW THE BEST START ON RECORD: The Gamecocks opened the 2012 season ranked ninth in both the Associated Press and USA Today/Coaches’ polls. It was the first time the Gamecocks were ranked in the preseason Top-10 in history. This week, Carolina has moved up to No. 7 in the AP poll. It’s the Gamecocks highest AP ranking since they checked in at No. 6 after defeating North Carolina in 2007 to run their record to 6-1.
WOULD YOU BELIEVE… The Gamecocks are tied for the fifth-longest current streak of being ranked in the Associated Press’s Top-25? Carolina and Stanford have been ranked for 35 consecutive weeks. Only Alabama, LSU, Oregon and Oklahoma have consecutive streaks longer in the AP Top-25 than the Gamecocks and Cardinal.
RK – Team – Weeks
1. Alabama – 69
2. LSU – 53
3. Oregon – 49
4. Oklahoma – 37
5. South Carolina – 35
Stanford – 35
ABOUT LAST WEEK: The Gamecocks finished strong in posting a 49-6 rout of UAB last Saturday. After the Blazers kicked a field goal on their first possession, the game turned when D.J. Swearinger returned a fumble 65 yards to paydirt, and the Gamecocks never looked back. Carolina rolled up 501 yards of offense on just 58 plays, averaging 8.6 yards per play. Sophomore quarterback Dylan Thompson came off the bench to hit on 5-of-10 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns, including a 94-yard TD completion to Damiere Byrd. Marcus Lattimore carried just 12 times but gained 85 yards, including a season-long 43 yard burst. The defense bent, but did not break in allowing just two field goals all night, and limiting UAB to just one score in three trips inside the redzone. Carolina surrendered 267 yards on the night, but just 27 on the ground in 42 attempts and only 89 yards after intermission. Jadeveon Clowney led the way with seven tackles, including 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks.
WHY IT WAS SIGNIFICANT: The win over UAB extended Carolina’s regular season non-conference winning streak to 14 games. Their last regular season non-conference loss came to Clemson in 2008. It also kept head coach Steve Spurrier perfect at 46-0 against schools outside the “Big Six,” including a 20-0 mark since arriving in Columbia.
THAT’S A RECORD: Marcus Lattimore’s 2-yard touchdown run against UAB broke the school record for touchdowns scored in a career with 34, one more than George Rogers and Harold Green. Lattimore also tied Rogers and Green for the most rushing touchdowns in school history with 31.
MAKING A POINT: Marcus Lattimore become just the fifth player in school history to eclipse the 200-point plateau. Lattimore has now scored 204 career points, joining Collin Mackie (330), Ryan Succop (251), George Rogers (202) and Reed Morton (201). Lattimore ranks sixth among active NCAA players in rushing TDs (the most by a junior).
YARDS BY THE BUSHEL: Carolina has racked up back-to-back 500-yard offensive outputs, going for 528 against East Carolina before collecting 501 yards versus UAB. The last time they went for 500+ yards of total offense in back-to-back games came in the 1995 season when they did so in three straight contests against Kent (544), Mississippi State (652) and Vanderbilt (508).
COCK `N FIRE RETURNS: The Gamecocks have thrown for 719 yards over the past two games. They threw for 397 yards in the win over ECU, the most yards passing in a game for Carolina in the Steve Spurrier Era, surpassing the 391 recorded against Middle Tennessee in 2006. In fact, the 397 yards passing were the most for a South Carolina team since they threw for a school-record 490 yards against Mississippi State in 1995. Carolina came back with a 322-yard passing performance, using four quarterbacks, in the win over UAB.
THIS BYRD CAN FLY: Dylan Thompson and Damiere Byrd hooked up on a 94-yard touchdown pass against UAB. It was the fourth-longest touchdown pass in school history and the first of Byrd’s career. Byrd has made four receptions this season for 188 yards, a 47.0 yards per catch average. Here are the longest pass plays in school history:
Yds – Quarterback-Receiver – Opponent – Date
99 – D. Pinkins-T. Williamson – Virginia – 09/07/03
98 – D. Pinkins-M. Thomas – Ole Miss – 11/01/03
97 – T. Ellis-R. Brooks – ECU – 09/17/88
94 – D. Thompson-D. Byrd – UAB – 09/15/12
SEC HONORS: Sophomore defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney was selected as the SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week for his efforts against UAB. The 6-6, 256-pounder from Rock Hill, S.C. was credited with seven tackles, including 3.5 for loss and 2.0 sacks. Clowney becomes the second Gamecock honored by the SEC in 2012, joining Marcus Lattimore (vs. Vandy).
DEFENDING THE GOAL LINE: Carolina has surrendered just 29 points through the first three games (13 at Vanderbilt, 10 vs. ECU, 6 vs. UAB) of the season, ranking second in the SEC and seventh in the country in scoring defense at 9.67 points per game. The last time Carolina allowed that few of points in the first three games of the season was in 2007, when they also allowed 29 points (14 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette, 12 at Georgia, 3 vs. South Carolina State).
TOUGH AGAINST THE RUN: Carolina has been solid against the run this season, surrendering 62 yards on 36 carries at Vandy, 70 yards on 24 attempts by ECU and 27 yards on 42 totes by UAB. For the season, the Gamecocks rank second in the SEC and tied for sixth in the country in rushing defense, allowing just 53.0 yards per contest. The Gamecocks have not allowed a rushing touchdown this season.
AND IMPRESSIVE IN THE REDZONE: The Gamecocks have allowed their three opponents to venture inside the 20-yard line six times this season, but have surrendered just nine points on three field goals. Oklahoma (1 drive, 0 points), Florida State (3 drives, 1 FG)and TCU (3 drives, 2 FG) are the only other teams to not allow a touchdown in the redzone this season.
SACK ATTACK: The Gamecocks racked up a season-high six sacks in the win over UAB, and now own 12 sacks on the season. Sophomore Jadeveon Clowney leads the way with 3.0 sacks, while Kelcy Quarles and Chaz Sutton each have 2.0. The team ranks second in the league and in a tie for sixth in the country in sacks per game at 4.00.
SHAW AT THE HELM: Connor Shaw has won 10 of his 11 career starts, the best record after 11 games of any signal-caller at Carolina. The 6-1, 207-pounder junior from Flowery Branch, Ga. used his legs more than his arm to help Carolina win its season opener. He carried 14 times for 92 yards, the second highest rushing total in his career, topped only by his 107-yard effort against Clemson in 2011. He sat out the East Carolina game with a right shoulder injury, but came back to make the start against UAB. He left that contest in the second quarter after re-aggravating the injury. Shaw has completed 65.4 percent of his career passes for 1,845 yards and 16 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. He also has rushed 186 times for 776 yards with eight scores. His completion percentage ranks first in school history (minimum 150 pass attempts).
THOMPSON STEPS IN AND STEPS UP: Redshirt sophomore Dylan Thompson made his first start in place of the injured Connor Shaw against ECU and responded with an impressive performance. After entering the game with just two completions in five career attempts for 17 yards, Thompson connected on 21-of-37 passes for 330 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He came off the bench last Saturday against UAB after Shaw was re-injured and produced again, hitting 5-of-10 passes for 177 yards and two TDs. For the season, Thompson is 26-of-50 for 507 yards and five touchdowns with no INTs. He has a passing efficiency rating of 170.18, the third-best mark in the SEC.
IN THE COMMUNITY: Dylan Thompson is the SEC Football Community Service Team Player of the Week. The Boiling Springs, S.C. native spent his spring break in El Salvador, helping feed the poor, exercise with students there while speaking to villages and churches during the trip. He has twice participated in the Pigskin Poets reading at the Richland County Library and at the Epworth Children’s Home Thanksgiving Dinner. A two-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll, he also played a role in the Children’s Chance Dinner for two consecutive years before Christmas and has taken time to speak at churches and Fellowship of Christian Athletes events and visit a children’s hospital.
SANDERS IS AN ACE IN THE HOLE: Junior wide receiver Ace Sanders, who figured to be the Gamecocks’ top receiver this season, has been impressive when he’s been asked to use his arm and his feet. He completed a 16-yard touchdown pass to D.L. Moore in the win over ECU. It was his third career pass and his second completion and second touchdown. He also threw a 3-yard TD pass to Stephen Garcia in the 2010 Chick-fil-A Bowl. He returned a punt 35 yards against UAB and ranks second in the SEC with a 15.0-yards per punt return average. He has one career punt return for a touchdown, going the distance against ECU in 2011.
BREAKING THE CENTURY MARK: The Gamecocks have three tailbacks who have rushed for 100 or more yards in a game for a total of 15 occasions. Junior Marcus Lattimore leads the way with nine 100-yard rushing games, while senior Kenny Miles and sophomore Brandon Wilds each have three 100-yard rushing contests. In addition, quarterback Connor Shaw has one 100-yard rushing game to his credit.
NINE FOR MARCUS: Tailback Marcus Lattimore has returned to the gridiron after suffering a season-ending knee injury at Mississippi State last October. The junior carried 23 times for 110 yards and two touchdowns in the opener at Vanderbilt. It was his ninth career 100-yard rushing game, moving him into a tie for fifth in school history with Duce Staley and Derek Watson. Here are the school leaders:
Rk. Player – 100-Yd Games
1. George Rogers – 27
2. Brandon Bennett – 11
2. Harold Green – 11
4. Steve Wadiak – 10
5. Duce Staley – 9
5. Derek Watson – 9
5. Marcus Lattimore – 9
AMONG THE LEADERS: Marcus Lattimore leads the Gamecocks with 48 carries for 235 yards, averaging 4.9 yards per carry and 78.3 yards per game this season. He has four of the Gamecocks’ six rushing touchdowns. He ranks second the nation in career yards rushing per game, averaging 98.4 yards per contest (minimum 15 games played).
SHAQ ATTACK: Senior linebacker Shaq Wilson has been outstanding early in the season. In addition to his two interceptions, Wilson leads the team with 18 tackles.
PICK THIS: The Gamecocks picked off four passes against ECU and have five for the season, tied for the 11th-best total in the country. Linebacker Shaq Wilson leads the way with two, while Jimmy Legree returned his for a touchdown against ECU. Last year, the defense logged 19 interceptions with two going for “pick-sixes” (Antonio Allen at Georgia and Devin Taylor at Arkansas). The school record for interceptions in a season is 23, set in 1981 and matched in 1984 and again in 1987.
THE PUNTER: Sophomore Tyler Hull did not arrive on the Carolina campus until a week after fall camp began, but quickly asserted himself as the team’s top punter. The Mount Airy, N.C. product kicked at Guilford (N.C.) College in 2010 before transferring to Surry Community College. He had six punts in his debut at Vanderbilt, averaging 39.0 yards per kick with a long of 46 yards. He was a little better against ECU, averaging 40.0 yards on four punts with a long of 51 yards and two inside the 20. For the season, Hull is averaging 38.9 yards on 14 punts. Both Hull and backup punter Patrick Fish, wear number 13.
81-52-83-8 HUT, HUT: Fifth-year senior Adam Yates has worn all four of those numbers since spring ball. What the Sparks, Md. product has been consistent on this season is making his kicks. He is 1-for-2 on field goals and a perfect 13-for-13 on extra point attempts. Yates made the biggest kick of his career when he hit a 42-yarder midway through preseason camp, earning a scholarship.
GIVE US A CHANCE: The Gamecocks are ranked dead last in the country, No. 120, in kickoff returns. But don’t fault new special teams coach Joe Robinson. The Gamecocks have a 0.0-yard return average because they have not yet returned a kickoff, the only team of 120 without one. Memphis has the most kickoff returns with 17.
CAPTAINS: The Gamecock coaches select game captains each week until the off week in November, at which time the team will select “permanent” captains for the 2012 season. Here are the game-by-game captains:
Vanderbilt: Justice Cunningham, T.J. Johnson, D.J. Swearinger, Shaq Wilson.
East Carolina: A.J. Cann, Justice Cunningham, DeVonte Holloman, Devin Taylor.
UAB: Reginald Bowens, Bruce Ellington, Byron Jerideau, D.L. Moore.
UP NEXT: The Gamecocks stay in SEC play next week when they travel to Lexington to face the Kentucky Wildcats. Carolina leads the all-time series 15-7-1 and has won 10 of the last 11 meetings between the two squads. Steve Spurrier owns an 18-1 record against UK.