Nov. 16, 2012
The No. 12/11 South Carolina Gamecocks (8-2, 6-2 SEC) wrap up the home portion of their 2012 schedule this week as they host their in-state FCS opponent, an annual tradition since the NCAA adopted a 12-game regular season in 2006. The Wofford Terriers (8-2, 6-2 SoCon) provide the opposition for Saturday’s 1 p.m. ET kick at Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250). The game will be televised on a pay-per-view basis throughout the Palmetto State with Andy Demetra and Brad Muller have the call.
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 17 games over the .500 mark with an all-time record of 562-545-44. The Gamecocks were nine games under .500 until head coach Steve Spurrier took the reins in 2005, but are 26 games over since.
SENIOR DAY: Today is the final home game for 29 seniors. Those players running on the stadium field for the final time include: Akeem Auguste, Jacob Baker, Reginald Bowens, Kaleb Broome, Andrew Clifford, Justice Cunningham, Travis Ford, Aldrick Fordham, Qua Gilchrist, Chaun Gresham, DeVonte Holloman, Walker Inabinet, Damario Jeffery, Byron Jerideau, T.J. Johnson, Blair Lowery, Kyle Madden, Kenny Miles, Davis Moore, D.L. Moore, Jared Shaw, DeAngelo Smith, Quin Smith, Seth Strickland, D.J. Swearinger, Devin Taylor, David Wilkins, Shaq Wilson and Adam Yates.
IN-STATE FCS FOES: Since the regular season was expanded to 12 games in 2006, the Gamecocks have hosted an in-state FCS opponent every year. They are 6-0 in those contests, defeating Wofford (2006, 2008), South Carolina State (2007, 2009), Furman (2010) and The Citadel (2011). Coastal Carolina will join the rotation in 2013, followed by Furman (2014), The Citadel (2015) and South Carolina State (2016).
FOUR-YEAR WIN TOTALS: The 2012 Carolina senior class has produced 35 wins over the past four seasons (7 in 2009, 9 in 2010, 11 in 2011 and 8 in 2012), surpassing last year’s senior class total of 34 for the most in school history. It’s the third-straight year a new standard has been set, as the 2010 seniors posted a then-school record 29 wins.
GAMECOCKS VS. TERRIERS: This is the 23rd meeting between these two Palmetto-state schools. Carolina has won the last 15 meetings to take an 18-4 all-time advantage in the series. The teams have met just three times, all in Columbia, since the 1957 season, with the Gamecocks winning by a 38-14 count on Nov. 3, 2001, by a 27-20 margin on Sept. 16, 2006, and by a 23-13 score on Sept. 20, 2008. The Terriers were added to the schedule in 2001, replacing Bowling Green in the wake of 9-11. Wofford’s last win over South Carolina came on Nov. 17, 1917 by a 20-0 score, which also marks Carolina’s last trip to Spartanburg. The Terriers other three wins came either before or at the turn of the 20th century – 1895, 1896 and 1901.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: Quarterback Chris Smelley had 204 yards passing as South Carolina struggled before putting away Wofford 23-13 on Sept 20, 2008. The Gamecocks (2-2) gained 376 yards and never punted, but Smelley threw two interceptions and fumbled. This one wasn’t out of reach until the Gamecocks put together a grinding drive of nearly six minutes in the fourth quarter that ended with Smelley’s 17-yard touchdown pass to Dion LeCorn to put Carolina ahead 23-13 with 1:58 to go. The Terriers (2-1) never strayed from their patient option running game. They ran for 185 yards, well under their average of 400 yards. Fullback Dane Romero led the team with 75 yards on 17 carries, while quarterback Ben Widmyer ran 10 times for 59 yards and completed 8-of-13 passes for 100 yards.
SPURRIER VS. WOFFORD: Steve Spurrier owns a 2-0 career record against the Terriers, with both wins coming in Columbia. He led the Gamecocks to a 27-20 over Wofford in 2006, then directed a 23-13 win over the Terriers in 2008.
A WIN TO TIE: Head coach Steve Spurrier recorded his 63rd victory at South Carolina in his 100th career game as the Gamecocks’ head coach last week against Arkansas. He is just one win from tying Rex Enright for the most coaching wins in school history. Enright coached in 140 games.
THE LAST TIME OUT: The No. 12/11 Gamecocks wrapped up the SEC portion of their 2012 schedule with a convincing 38-20 win over Arkansas last Saturday afternoon in Columbia. Connor Shaw completed 14-of-22 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another. Bruce Ellington had another big day receiving, catching five passes for a career-high 104 yards and a score. Senior D.J. Swearinger led the defense with a career-high 13 tackles and returned an interception 69 yards for a touchdown. Swearinger was named the Walter Camp National Defensive Player and SEC co-Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts.
OUT OF THEIR LEAGUE: The Gamecocks put a 14-game regular season non-conference winning streak on the line against Wofford. They are 2-0 in non-conference action this season and were 4-0 in regular season non-conference action in each of the previous three seasons. Including the bowl games, the Gamecocks went 5-0 in non-conference action in 2011 after going 4-1 in non-league games in both 2009 and 2010. They are 28-7 in non-conference games under head coach Steve Spurrier, including wins in 26 of their last 31 non-SEC tilts. The year-by-year breakdown: 2005 (2-2); 2006 (5-0); 2007 (3-1); 2008 (3-2); 2009 (4-1); 2010 (4-1); 2011 (5-0); 2012 (2-0). South Carolina’s last regular season non-conference loss came at Clemson in 2008.
PERFECT RECORD: Head coach Steve Spurrier is a perfect 46-0 all-time against schools outside of BCS automatic qualifier conferences, including a 20-0 mark since coming to South Carolina. In 2001, he defeated East Carolina, Navy and The Citadel. He extended the streak this season with wins over East Carolina and UAB.
EIGHT IS GREAT: With an 8-2 record, Carolina has eight-or-more wins for just the 12th time in school history. They have won nine or more games just four times, including each of the last two seasons. Here are the 8-, 9- and 10-win seasons prior to 2012:
8 wins – 7 times: 1903, 1979, 1980, 1987, 1988, 2000, 2006.
9 wins – 2 times: 2001, 2010.
10 wins – 1 time: 1984.
11 wins – 1 time: 2011.
WINNING MORE OFTEN: The Gamecocks have assured themselves of a fifth-straight winning season and a school-record nine-straight seasons of at least a .500 record, surpassing the previous mark of seven-straight seasons of .500 or better set from 1928-34. The Gamecocks went 6-5 in 2004, 7-5 in 2005, 8-5 in 2006, 6-6 in 2007, and 7-6 in both 2008 and 2009 before logging a 9-5 record in 2010 and a school-best 11-2 mark in 2011.
GOOD HOME COOKIN’: The Gamecocks have won their last 10 games at Williams-Brice Stadium, including a perfect 6-0 record at home this season. 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 26-3 in its last 29 home games.
TOP HOME STREAKS: The Gamecocks have won 10 straight home games, their longest stretch since joining the SEC and tying for the third-longest streak in school history. Here are the top home winning streaks:
YEARS WINS1978-1980 151986-1988 132011-2012 (current) 101984-1985 91901-1903 91925-1926 8
PERFECT AT HOME: The Gamecocks are 6-0 at Williams-Brice Stadium this season. They have not run the table at home since joining the SEC. The last time they went undefeated at home for an entire season was in 1987 (7-0). They have been undefeated and untied at home nine times in their history: 1902 (6-0), 1907 (2-0), 1912 (4-0), 1958 (5-0), 1969 (5-0), 1979 (7-0), 1980 (7-0), 1984 (7-0) and 1987 (7-0).
AND NOT BAD ON THE ROAD EITHER: Carolina is 2-2 on the road this season, with both losses coming at Top-10 teams, but has won eight of its last 11 true road games since falling at Kentucky in 2010. The Gamecocks had their school record six-game road winning streak snapped at Arkansas late in the 2011 season. Carolina finished the 2011 campaign with a 3-1 road record, its best road record since posting a 4-1 mark in 2006.
THE HEAD BALL COACH: Steve Spurrier is in his eighth season directing the Gamecock football program. He has logged a 63-37 mark (.630) in Columbia. Coach Spurrier needs one win to tie and two 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 63 behind only Rex Enright (64) and is second in games coached with 100, behind Enright (140). Spurrier owns a 205-77-2 mark (.725) in 23 seasons as a collegiate head coach, with stops at Duke and Florida before his stint at 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. He ranks fourth among active Division I coaches with 205 wins. In addition to his 205 wins as a college coach, Steve Spurrier has an additional 47 wins as a head coach at the professional level, giving him 252 career coaching wins.
UNCHARTED TERRITORY: The Gamecocks are bowl eligible for the eighth time in as many seasons under Steve Spurrier. He has taken Carolina to six bowl games. 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.
BEATING THE EAST: The Gamecocks went 5-1 against SEC Eastern Division foes this season, with the only loss coming at Florida. Carolina posted a perfect 5-0 mark against SEC Eastern Division rivals in 2011, a first in school history. They have won 13 of their last 14 and 14 of their last 16 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+ wins in the division four times in eight seasons:
AN SEC SIX-PACK: With a 6-2 SEC mark, the Gamecocks reached six SEC victories for the second year in a row. They had never had six SEC wins in a season prior to 2011. They finished the 2000, 2001, 2005 and 2010 seasons with 5-3 SEC marks. Carolina finished with at least a .500 SEC mark for the 10th time in 21 seasons and with three in a row for the first time in history. They were also 4-4 in 1994, 1996, 2004 and 2008.
IN THE POLLS: The Gamecocks have been ranked in the Associated Press Top-25 for 43 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.
SANDERS IS SPECIAL: Junior punt returner Ace Sanders is on pace for a record-setting season. Sanders, a two-time SEC Special Teams Player of the Week, has six returns of 27 yards or more, including a 70-yarder for a score against Georgia and a 50-yarder at LSU. He is averaging 13.9 yards per return, 14th in the nation. Sanders was named to Phil Steele’s fourth-team All-America squad as a punt returner.
ACE LOOKING TO BE NO. 1: Ace Sanders is averaging 13.9-yard per punt return. Bobby Bryant holds the school record by returning 13 punts for 242 yards, an 18.6-yard average in 1966. Sanders needs just 30 yards to become the school’s single-season leader in punt return yardage, passing Dick Harris’s record, set in 1971.
COMING UP ACES: Junior wide receiver Ace Sanders has done it all this season. He is third on the team with 25 receptions for 285 yards and five touchdowns, has returned 24 punts for a 13.9-yard average – tops in the SEC, and completed a 16-yard touchdown pass to D.L. Moore in the win over East Carolina. It was his third career pass and his second completion and second touchdown. Sanders was honored as the SEC’s co-Special Teams Player of the Week vs. Mizzou and again vs. Georgia.
SHAW AT THE HELM: Connor Shaw is 15-3 as a starting quarterback (9-0 at home), the best record after 18 games of any signal-caller in Carolina history. The 6-1, 207-pounder junior from Flowery Branch, Ga. has completed 65.9 percent of his passes for 1,610 yards and 14 touchdowns with just six interceptions this season. He is third in the SEC and 15th in the country in efficiency rating (159.0).
3000-1000 CLUB: Junior quarterback Connor Shaw became just the second player in South Carolina history to pass for over 3,000 yards in a career and rush for over 1,000 yards. Shaw went over both plateaus against Tennessee and now has 3,281 yards passing and 1,011 yards rushing. Jeff Grantz is the only other Gamecock to do so. Grantz threw for 3,440 yards while rushing for 1,577.
SEC ACCOLADES: Connor Shaw was honored as the SEC Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts in the win over Tennessee when he hit on 22-of-32 passes for a career-high 356 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Tennessee. He added 33 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. It was the second time he was honored as the league’s Offensive Player of the Week this season (also against Missouri when he completed 20-of-21 passes for 249 yards and 2 TDs) and the fourth time in his career (also Kentucky and Clemson in 2011). Shaw’s only other 300-yard passing game came in 2011 against Kentucky (311).
THROWING STRIKES: When the Gamecocks pitch it around the park, there’s been no one who has been more accurate in school history than Connor Shaw. Three of the top 5 quarterbacks in completion percentage have worked under Coach Spurrier:
Quarterback Years Comp. Pct.Connor Shaw 2010-12 .660 (266-of-403)Blake Mitchell 2004-07 .607 (482-of-794)Steve Taneyhill 1992-95 .605 (753-of-1245)Bobby Fuller 1990-91 .588 (373-of-634)Stephen Garcia 2008-11 .577 (589-of-1021)
QB’S UNDER THE HBC: Here are the records of the starting Gamecock QB’s under Steve Spurrier:
Quarterback Record Pct.Stephen Garcia 20-14 .588Connor Shaw 15-3 .833Blake Mitchell 13-10 .565Chris Smelley 9-6 .600Syvelle Newton 4-3 .571Tommy Beecher 1-0 1.000Dylan Thompson 1-0 1.000Antonio Heffner 0-1 .000
QB WINS SINCE 1971: Here are the winningest starting quarterbacks at South Carolina since 1971:
Quarterback Record Pct.Todd Ellis 24-16-3 .593Garry Harper 20-12-1 .621Stephen Garcia 20-14 .588Steve Taneyhill 20-19-1 .526Phil Petty 17-12 .586Connor Shaw 15-3 .833Jeff Grantz 14-14 .500Blake Mitchell 13-10 .565
MAKING MUSIC WITH MILES & DAVIS: With the season-ending knee injury to Marcus Lattimore, the Gamecocks will turn to the duet of Kenny Miles and Mike Davis. Miles, a fifth-year senior, has carried 56 times this season for 186 yards, but has 267 career totes for 1,168 yards, a 4.4-yard average and three 100-yard rushing games. Davis, a true freshman, has carried 37 times for 210 yards, 5.7 yards per carry. Sophomore Brandon Wilds has not played this season, but it’s possible he could take his redshirt off. Wilds had 107 carries for 486 yards in 2011, including three 100-yard rushing games.
JOINING THE 1,000-YARD CLUB: Earlier this season, fifth-year senior running back Kenny Miles (1,131 yards) and junior quarterback Connor Shaw (1,001 yards) became the 39th and 40th players in Gamecock history to rush for 1,000 yards in a career.
BRUCE ALMIGHTY: Sophomore Bruce Ellington has shown he can excel on the gridiron as he has done on the hardwood. The starting point guard for the Carolina basketball team each of the past two seasons, Ellington leads the team with 28 receptions for 470 yards, a 16.8-yard average, and four touchdowns, and has returned 13 kickoffs for a 21.9-yard average, including a 50-yarder against Missouri. Ellington has been hot of late, going over 100 yards receiving in each of the last two games – 101 vs. Tennessee and a career-high 104 yards against Arkansas. Ellington is a rare breed that has earned SEC All-Freshman honors in both football and basketball.
TRENDING TIGHT ENDS: The Gamecocks have brought the tight end back into vogue. Senior Justice Cunningham has 20 catches this season for 261 yards. He had just 27 receptions for 257 yards from 2009-11. Sophomore Rory “Busta” Anderson has become a big play threat. He has 13 catches this season for 264 yards, a 20.3-yard average, with five touchdowns. In his brief career, Anderson has eight TDs among his 21 catches with a 21.5-yard per catch average.
THE O-LINE: Senior center T.J. Johnson, a Rimington Award candidate, recent SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week recipient and second-team Phil Steele Midseason All-American, anchors the line. He has started every game over the past four seasons, making a school record 50 career starts. Redshirt sophomore A.J. Cann has become a fixture at left guard. He started all 13 games last season as a redshirt freshman and has started 22 of the last 23 games. Junior right guard Ronald Patrick has started every game this season, his first career starts. The tackle position has been more fluid. True sophomore Mike Matulis (10 career starts) has made five starts this season, three at left tackle and two at right tackle. Redshirt sophomore tackle Cody Gibson has made six career starts, including two this season. Redshirt freshman tackle Brandon Shell made his first career start at Vanderbilt as the left tackle and has gotten the call each of the last six games at right tackle. Redshirt sophomore tackle Corey Robinson has been the starting left tackle in six of the last seven contests, his first career starts.
NO ONE HAS MORE: Senior center T.J. Johnson has made 50 consecutive starts, matching Nevada’s offensive lineman Chris Barker, for the top spot among active Division I players.
THE TOTAL PACKAGE: Carolina ranks fourth in the SEC and 13th in the nation in total defense, allowing 308.9 yards per game (102.4 rushing/206.5 passing). Last season, they ranked third in both the SEC and the country, surrendering just 267.7 yards per game (136.0 rushing/131.7 passing).
SACK ATTACK: The Gamecocks racked up a season-high eight sacks at Kentucky, and own 33 sacks on the year, tops in the SEC and eighth in the nation. Sophomore Jadeveon Clowney leads the way with 8.5 sacks (tied for 17th in the country) and Chaz Sutton has added 5.0, while 12 different players have figured into the total. Clowney ranks third in the SEC with both his 8.5 sacks (0.85/game) and with 17.0 tackles for loss (1.70/game).
SACK CITY: The Gamecocks have 33 sacks through 10 games. At an average of 3.30 sacks per game, they are on pace for 43 sacks this season, which would set a new school record. The record is 41 by the 2010 team, who averaged 2.93 sacks per game.
GETTING IN THE SACK: Here are the individual Gamecocks’ sack totals for 2012 and career:
BEHIND THE LINE: The Gamecocks rank 14th in the nation in tackles for loss with 74 in 10 games, an average of 7.40 per game. Jadeveon Clowney leads the way with 17.0 TFLs, tied for sixth in the nation.
SHAQ ATTACK: Senior linebacker Shaq Wilson has been outstanding this season. Wilson, the quarterback of the defense, leads the team lead with 62 tackles, including a career-high 14 stops at LSU. He also has two interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
I SWEAR HE CAN PLAY: Senior safety D.J. Swearinger, considered the biggest hitter of the defense, is one of the team’s top playmakers as well, with 53 tackles (second on the team), two interceptions including a 69-yard “pick-six”, five pass breakups and a 65-yard fumble return for a touchdown this season. His seven passes defended ranks in a tie for 11th in the SEC. He logged a season-best 13 stops against Arkansas and, with his interception return for a score, was named the Walter Camp Defensive Player of the Week.
PICK THIS: The Gamecocks picked off a season-best four passes against East Carolina and have 12 for the season. Jimmy Legree returned one of his for a touchdown against East Carolina and his other 70 yards to the one at LSU. D.J. Swearinger added a “pick-six” against Arkansas, tying DeVonte Holloman for the team lead with six career interceptions.
YAY(TS) FOR ADAM: Senior kicker Adam Yates has come up big recently. The Sparks, Md. product tallied nine of the Gamecocks’ 11 points at Florida when he was 3-for-4 in field goal attempts, hitting from 35, 30 and from a career-long 51 yards out. His previous had been 38 yards. He then hit from 36 yards out in the fourth quarter against Tennessee, providing the margin of victory. Yates was just 3-of-5 on the season prior to the Florida game. The 51-yarder was the longest for a Gamecock kicker since Spencer Lanning hit from the same distance against Furman in 2010 and tied for the ninth-longest field goal in school history. For the season, Yates is 8-of-12 in field goal attempts. He is a perfect 40-for-40 in extra point attempts. Yates made the biggest kick of his career when he hit a 42-yarder midway through preseason camp, earning a scholarship. He has also assumed the kickoff duties and has produced 22 touchbacks on 45 kicks.
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. For the season, Hull is averaging 39.6 yards on 43 punts with eight inside the 20, 16 fair catches and five that have traveled 50+ yards. Both Hull and backup punter Patrick Fish, wear number 13.
NO HARM, NO FOUL: The Gamecocks are the least penalized team in the SEC this season. They have been flagged just 43 times in 10 games, 4.30 penalties per game, tied for 11th in the country, losing just 35.7 yards per game in penalties, 12th in the nation.
UP NEXT: The Gamecocks will wrap up their 2012 regular season with the annual Palmetto State Showdown at Clemson on Saturday, November 24. The Tigers lead the all-time series 65-40-4, including a 16-9-1 advantage at Death Valley, but the Gamecocks have won the last three contests in the series, their first three-game winning streak since 1968-70. The last time Carolina won four-straight against Clemson was 1951-54, which is also their longest winning streak in the series.