Sep 6, 2013
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COLUMBIA, S.C. – Southeastern Conference action gets underway for both schools when the No. 6/6 South Carolina Gamecocks (1-0, 0-0 SEC) travel to Athens to take on the No. 11/12 Georgia Bulldogs (0-1, 0-0 SEC) on Saturday, September 7. Game time is set for 4:30 p.m. ET with ESPN handling the telecast from Sanford Stadium. Brad Nessler will be behind the mic with Todd Blackledge adding the game analysis and Holly Rowe working the sidelines. The game is also being aired nationally on Dial Global Sports radio with John Tautges and Rocky Boiman describing the action.
Date: Saturday, September 7
Kickoff: 4:30 p.m. ET
Location: Athens, Ga.
Stadium: Sanford Stadium (92,746)
Series: Georgia leads 46-17-2
RADIO Flagship – 107.5 FM “The Game” & the IMG Network
SETTING THE STAGE: Southeastern Conference action gets underway for both schools when the No. 6/6 South Carolina Gamecocks (1-0, 0-0 SEC) travel to Athens to take on the No. 11/12 Georgia Bulldogs (0-1, 0-0 SEC) on Saturday, September 7. Game time is set for 4:30 p.m. ET with ESPN handling the telecast from Sanford Stadium. Brad Nessler will be behind the mic with Todd Blackledge adding the game analysis and Holly Rowe working the sidelines. The game is also being aired nationally on Dial Global Sports radio with John Tautges and Rocky Boiman describing the action.
A LITTLE HISTORY: 2013 marks the 120th season of intercollegiate football at the University of South Carolina, dating back to 1892. It is the 107th-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 21 games over the .500 mark with an all-time record of 566-545-44. The Gamecocks were nine games under .500 until head coach Steve Spurrier took the reins in 2005, but are 30 games over since.
SEC HISTORY: The 2013 season marks South Carolina’s 22nd year in the Southeastern Conference. South Carolina and Arkansas joined the league prior to the 1992 campaign. The Gamecocks earned their first SEC Eastern Division title in the 2010 season. The Gamecocks are 72-95-1 all-time in SEC regular-season play, but are 17-7 over the last three years in conference action.
CAROLINA VS. GEORGIA: This is the 66th all-time meeting between these two bordering state schools. Only Clemson (109) has faced the Gamecocks more often than Georgia. The Bulldogs lead the all-time series over South Carolina by a 46-17-2 margin. Georgia holds a 19-9-2 advantage in games played in Columbia, a 26-8 lead in games played in Athens, and won the only game played at a neutral site.
CALL IT A STREAK: The Gamecocks have won each of the last three meetings with Georgia, posting a 17-6 win in Columbia in 2010, holding on in a 45-42 shootout in Athens in 2011 and running up a 35-7 decision in Columbia last season. It’s the first time in a series that dates back to 1894 that Carolina has won three-straight over the Bulldogs. In fact, the Gamecocks had won back-to-back games against Georgia just five times in history (1903-04, 1958-59, 1978-79, 1988-89 and 2000-01), before breaking through with wins in each of the last three meetings.
SPURRIER VS. GEORGIA: South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier owns a 15-5 record against Georgia. He was 11-1 while head coach at Florida, with his lone loss coming in the 1997 season. He is 4-4 in eight tries while in charge of the Gamecock program. His squads have scored 30 or more points in 12 of 20 contests against the Bulldogs.
SPURRIER VS. RICHT: Steve Spurrier has faced Georgia’s Mark Richt nine times as a head coach, winning five of those contests. He won the 2001 meeting in his last season as head coach at Florida, and is 4-4 since taking over the Carolina program. Richt was an assistant coach at Florida State from 1987-2000, during which time Spurrier went 5-8-1 vs. the Seminoles.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: South Carolina posted its biggest win in the series with Georgia by rolling up a 35-7 triumph in Columbia on October 6, 2012. The largest crowd to witness a game at Williams-Brice Stadium (85,199) saw the Gamecocks burst out the gates with 21 first-quarter points and never look back. The sixth-ranked Gamecocks rolled up 392 yards of offense and held No. 5 Georgia to just 224 yards. Connor Shaw completed 6-of-10 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns while Marcus Lattimore carried 24 times for 109 yards and a score. The Carolina defense held Aaron Murray to just 11-of-31 passing for 109 yards and an interception. The standout Bulldog running tandem of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall was held in check as well, as they gained just 39 and 37 yards rushing, respectively.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET IN ATHENS: Senior defensive tackle Melvin Ingram made a name for himself and sophomore Marcus Lattimore had another big game against the Bulldogs, as No. 12 Carolina posted a 45-42 win in Athens on Sept. 10, 2011. Ingram scored on a 68-yard run on a fake punt late in the second quarter, then added a five-yard fumble return for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to secure the win. Lattimore rushed for 176 yards on 27 carries and a fourth-quarter score that put Carolina on top 38-35, just 16 seconds before Ingram’s second TD. For the game, Georgia had 436 yards of offense compared to 395 for Carolina.
WHEN THEY’RE BOTH RANKED: This week’s game marks the ninth time the two teams have met when they’ve both been nationally-ranked teams. South Carolina owns a 5-3 advantage in those contests including a 4-0 mark when the game has been played in Columbia:
1959 in Columbia: #16 SC 30, #13 UGA 14
1980 in Athens: #4 UGA 13, #14 SC 10
1983 in Athens: #16 UGA 31, #14 SC 13
1988 in Columbia: #14 SC 23, #6 UGA 10
2001 in Athens: #21 SC 14, #25 UGA 9
2003 in Athens: #8 UGA 31, #25 SC 7
2010 in Columbia: #24 SC 17, #22 UGA 6
2012 in Columbia: #6 SC 35, #5 Georgia 7
TOP-10 MATCHUP: South Carolina has entered a game ranked in the Top-10 seven times when facing another Top-10 opponent. The Gamecocks are 1-6 in those contests, with their lone win coming over Georgia last season in Columbia. In fact, three of the seven contests in which two top-10 teams squared off came during the 2012 campaign:
1984 Gator Bowl: #9 Oklahoma St. 21, #7 SC 14
1987 in Miami: #2 Miami (Fla.) 20, #8 SC 16
1987 Gator Bowl: #7 LSU 30, #9 SC 13
2011 in Fayetteville: #8 Arkansas 44, #10 SC 28
2012 in Columbia: #6 SC 35, #5 Georgia 7
2012 in Baton Rouge: #9 LSU 23, #3 SC 21
2012 in Gainesville: #3 Florida 44, #9 SC 11
GEORGIA ON MY MIND: The Gamecocks have made an impact in recruiting the state of Georgia, especially in the greater Atlanta area. 27 current members of the South Carolina football team hail from the Peach State. More Gamecocks come from Georgia than any state outside the Palmetto State borders.
ABOUT LAST WEEK: The Gamecocks opened the 2013 season on Thursday, August 29, with a convincing 27-10 win over North Carolina. South Carolina came out of the gates fast, scoring 17 first-quarter points and never looked back. They opened the scoring just 1:19 into the contest on a 65-yard bomb from Connor Shaw to Shaq Roland. It was the quickest the Gamecocks have scored to open a season since joining the SEC and was the longest touchdown completion of Shaw’s career. Sophomore Mike Davis led the running attack with 115 yards, including a 75-yard gallop for a score. The Gamecock defense limited the fast-paced Tar Heel attack to just 10 points and 293 yards, well below their 2012 averages of 41 points and 486 yards of offense.
CROSSING THE CENTURY MARK: Sophomore Mike Davis logged the first 100-yard rushing game of his career with a 115-yard performance against North Carolina in his first career start. Included was a 75-yard scamper, the longest for a Gamecock since Bobby Wallace went 88 yards against Middle Tennessee in 2006, and tying for the 12th-longest run from scrimmage in school history.
100-YARD EFFORTS: The Gamecocks had four 100-yard rushing games a season ago, getting three from Marcus Lattimore and one from Kenny Miles. When Mike Davis went for 115 in the season opener against North Carolina, he became the third player on the current roster with a 100-yard rushing game in his career, joining Brandon Wilds (3) and Connor Shaw (1). Both Wilds and Shaw turned in their 100-yard efforts during the 2011 campaign.
JUST FOR KICKS: True freshman Elliott Fry walked on to the Gamecock squad this summer and earned the starting placekicking chores in the opener. The Frisco, Texas product was impressive against North Carolina, hitting on both of his field goal attempts from 39 and 26 yards, and all three of his extra points for nine total points. He became the first true freshman placekicker to kick in the Gamecocks’ season opener since Courtney Leavitt in 1996.
ONE AND DONE: Backup QB Dylan Thompson got in for just one play, but made the most of it, hitting walk-on wide receiver Kane Whitehurst on a 29-yard touchdown pass late in the first quarter. It gave Thompson a 673.60 quarterback efficiency rating for the night and was Whitehurst’s first reception as a Gamecock.
FIRST TIME STARTERS: Eight Gamecocks made their first career start in the win over North Carolina. The first-time starters included four on offense (TB Mike Davis, TE Drew Owens, WR Shaq Roland and OC Cody Waldrop) and four on defense (Spur Sharrod Golightly, LB Kaiwan Lewis, SS Kadetrix Marcus and LB Marcquis Roberts).
MAKING HISTORY: The Gamecocks have put together back-to-back 11-win seasons, the first back-to-back, double-digit win seasons in school history. They have logged two of their three 10-or more win seasons in the last two years. The only previous 10-win campaign came in 1984. Entering the 2013 campaign, the Gamecocks have won 22 games over the past two seasons, 31 over the past three seasons, and 38 over the past four seasons, all school records.
ON A ROLL: The Gamecocks won their final five games of the 2012 season, with consecutive victories over Tennessee, Arkansas, Wofford, Clemson and Michigan. It’s the first time in school history that Carolina entered the offseason on a five-game winning streak. The previous best was four, set in 1958 and matched in 2011. The 1912 unit went 4-0-1 in its last five games and the 1947 squad went 5-0-1 in its last six contests. The Gamecocks have the nation’s sixth-longest winning streak at six games behind Ohio State (13), Arkansas State (9), Stanford (8), San Jose State (8) and Texas A&M (7).
THE RANKINGS-2012: The Gamecocks finished eighth in the final 2012 Associated Press poll and seventh in the final USA Today/Coaches poll. It was the highest finish on record for Carolina, one spot better in both polls than in 2011.
THE RANKINGS-2013: The Gamecocks entered the 2013 season with the highest national ranking in school history. They opened the season sixth in the Associated Press poll and seventh in the USA Today/Coaches poll. The previous high to open a season came in 2012 when they opened at No. 9 in both major polls.
TOP-10 PROGRAM: The Gamecocks have put together back-to-back Top 10 finishes for the first time in school history, finishing ninth in 2011 and eighth in 2012 according to the Associated Press. They finished one spot higher in the Coaches’ poll both years. The Gamecocks have finished among the nation’s Top 25 for three-straight seasons, another “first” in school history. Here are South Carolina’s final AP Top-25 rankings:
YEAR (FINAL AP): 1958 (13); 1984 (11); 1987 (15); 2000 (19); 2001 (13); 2010 (22); 2011 (9); 2012 (8).
IN THE POLLS: The Gamecocks have been ranked in the Associated Press Top-25 for 49-consecutive polls, starting with 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.
THE HEAD BALL COACH: Steve Spurrier is in his ninth season directing the Gamecock football program. He has logged a 67-37 mark (.644) in Columbia. The Head Ball Coach is Carolina’s winningest coach with 67 victories and is second in games coached with 104, behind Rex Enright (140). Coach Spurrier owns a 209-77-2 mark (.729) in 24 seasons as a collegiate head coach, with previous stops at Duke and Florida.
AT THE TOP OF THE LEADERBOARD: Head coach Steve Spurrier recorded his 65th victory at South Carolina in his 102nd career game as the Gamecocks’ head coach in 2012 the regular-season finale at Clemson. He surpassed Rex Enright (64) for the most coaching wins in school history. He now owns 67 wins at South Carolina. He is also the winningest coach at Florida with 122 victories. The legendary Bear Bryant (60 at Kentucky and 232 at Alabama) is the only other coach to own the most wins at two SEC schools.
TOPS IN HIS FIELD: Steve Spurrier became the 71st head college football coach (all divisions) and the 22nd in Division I history to record 200 wins when he accomplished that feat against UAB in 2012. He ranks third among active Division I coaches with 209 wins. In addition, the HBC has 47 wins as a head coach at the professional level, giving him 256 career coaching wins.
BROTHER ACT: The Gamecocks have two sets of brothers on the squad. Redshirt freshmen offensive linemen Brock and Clayton Stadnik are twins. On the defensive line, Gerald Dixon and Gerald Dixon Jr. are half-brothers. They share the same father, Gerald Dixon Sr., who played at Carolina in the early 90s.
THE LEGACY CONTINUES: The Gamecocks roster features four players whose fathers also donned the Garnet & Black: junior defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles and his father, Buddy (1984-87); sophomore defensive linemen Gerald Dixon and Gerald Dixon Jr. and their father, Gerald (1990-91); and redshirt freshman Jordan Diggs and his father, Shed (1984-87).
HAVING A SENIOR MOMENT: The Gamecocks list five seniors on their roster, including four scholarship seniors. That is the fewest number of seniors in Division I football in 2013. The quintet includes QB Connor Shaw, OG Ronald Patrick, DE Chaz Sutton, CB Jimmy Legree and walk-on WR David Wilkins.
SHAW GETS THE START: Senior quarterback Connor Shaw returns for his final campaign. Shaw, a 6-1, 209-pounder from Flowery Branch, Ga., is 18-3 as a starter, including a 11-0 mark at home. He and Jeff Grantz are the only two players in school history to pass for over 3,000 yards and rush for over 1,000 yards. He is the school’s all-time leader in completion percentage at 66.3 percent. He is seventh with 33 TD passes.
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. The top two and three of the top five quarterbacks in completion percentage have worked under Coach Spurrier:
Connor Shaw: 2010-13 – .663 (311-of-469)
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)
1. Steve Taneyhill (1992-95) 62
2. Todd Ellis (1986-89) 49
3. Stephen Garcia (2008-10) 47
T4. Anthony Wright (1995-98) 38
T4. Blake Mitchell (2004-07) 38
6. Tommy Suggs (1968-70) 34
7. Connor Shaw (2010-12) 33
T8. Bobby Fuller (1990-91) 28
T8. Phil Petty (1998-01) 28
10. Jeff Grantz (1972-75) 26
QB WINS SINCE 1971: Here are the starting quarterbacks with the most wins at South Carolina since 1971: Quarterback: Record (Pct.)
Todd Ellis: 24-16-3 (.593)
Garry Harper: 20-12-1 (.621)
Stephen Garcia: 20-14 (.588)
Steve Taneyhill: 20-19-1 (.526)
Connor Shaw: 18-3 (.857)
Phil Petty 17-12: (.586)
Jeff Grantz 14-14: (.500)
Blake Mitchell: 13-10 (.565)
WAITING IN THE WINGS: Junior Dylan Thompson is ready and waiting to take some snaps as well. Thompson, a 6-3, 218-pounder from Boiling Springs, S.C., stepped in admirably last season when Shaw was beset by injuries. He led the Gamecocks to wins over East Carolina and Clemson in his two starts, throwing for over 300 yards on both occasions. He also was 7-of-10 for 117 yards and two touchdowns in the bowl win over Michigan, including the game-winning 32-yard pass to Bruce Ellington with just 11 seconds remaining in the contest. Thompson completed a 29-yard touchdown pass to Kane Whitehurst in the season opener against North Carolina, the only snap he took from scrimmage. With that, Thompson’s last two passes have both gone for TDs.
BACK ATTACK: The Gamecocks lost one of their all-time greats in running back Marcus Lattimore but have four capable backs, three of which are sophomores and the other a true freshman, to fill the void. Sophomore Mike Davis is the first man in. The younger brother of former Clemson standout James Davis, Mike averaged 5.3 yards per carry as a true freshman. He came up big in the opener against North Carolina, rushing just 12 times for a career-best 115 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown burst. Sophomore Brandon Wilds returns to the mix after sitting out last season as a redshirt. As a freshman in 2011, Wilds moved from fifth on the depth chart to the starter late in the season due to a rash of injuries. He responded with three 100-yard rushing games, including a career-high 137 at Tennessee. He had 12 carries for 64 yards in the opener against UNC. Sophomore Shon Carson looks to stay healthy this season as the injury bug has plagued him in each of his first two campaigns, limiting him to just three games. True freshman David Williams, has been impressive in camp and could see action as well.
CATCH THIS: Junior Bruce Ellington is the top returning receiver. He logged 40 receptions for 600 yards and seven touchdowns last season and has 811 yards on 57 career receptions but has been slowed in camp by a hamstring injury and did not start against UNC. Junior Damiere Byrd (17 catches, 404 yards), the fastest player on the team, and junior Nick Jones (28 catches, 361 yards) are the other two wideouts with the most experience.
STELLAR TIGHT ENDS: The Gamecocks are blessed with a pair of standout tight ends. Junior Rory “Busta” Anderson is an All-SEC candidate. He has 22 career receptions for 459 yards with eight touchdowns. He did not play in the opener against UNC due to a hamstring injury. Sophomore Jerell Adams averaged over 22 yards a catch on just four receptions last season. He also was limited against UNC with an ankle injury. With Anderson checking in at 6-5, 242, and Adams at 6-6, 237, both can present a matchup challenge for a defense.
THE O-LINE: The Gamecocks return four starters along the offensive line. Junior left guard A.J. Cann is the most experienced of the group with 26 career starts, the most on the squad, and is an All-SEC candidate. Senior right guard Ronald Patrick started all 13 games last season. Junior left tackle Corey Robinson started nine of the last 10 games a season ago, while right tackle Brandon Shell was a Freshman All-American while making 10 starts. The lone newcomer is redshirt freshman Cody Waldrop, who has big shoes to fill in replacing T.J. Johnson, who graduated as the school’s all-time leader with 53 starts, having started every game from 2009-12.
AS GOOD AS IT GETS: The 2013 Gamecocks feature one of the game’s top players in junior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney, who is regarded by most as the top defensive player in the country and a likely top pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, was just the second Gamecock to earn unanimous All-America honors in 2012, joining George Rogers from his Heisman Trophy season in 1980. Clowney was named the Hendricks Award winner as the nation’s top defensive end, and the All-America Player of the Year, presented by AT&T as selected by the fans on ESPN.com. He finished sixth in the Heisman race and was a finalist for the Nagurski Trophy, Rotary Lombardi Award and the Bednarik Award after being named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year by the league’s coaches.
THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN: Fresh off his trip to L.A. to receive the ESPY Award for the top play of the year, Jadeveon Clowney returns to cause havoc for quarterbacks around the southeast. Clowney set school records last season for sacks in a game (4.5 at Clemson), sacks in a season (13.0) and tackles for loss in a season (23.5) as a sophomore. The 6-6, 274-pounder is on everyone’s preseason All-America list and a legitimate candidate for all the national awards. Here’s where he ranks on Carolina’s all-time lists after just two seasons:
TACKLES FOR LOSS
1. Eric Norwood (2006-09) 54.5
T2. Devin Taylor (2009-12) 35.5
T2. Jadeveon Clowney (2011-12) 35.5
4. Andrew Provence (1980-82)35.0
5. Frank Wright (1981-84) 32.0
6. Cecil Caldwell (1997-2000) 31.0
7. Melvin Ingram (2007-11) 30.5
8. Rickey Hagood (1980-82) 30.0
9. Roy Hart (1983-84, 85-86) 29.0
10. Rashad Faison (1999-2002) 27.5
1. Eric Norwood (2006-09) 29.0
2. Andrew Provence (1980-82) 26.0
3. John Abraham (1996-99) 23.5
4. Melvin Ingram (2007-11) 21.5
5. Jadeveon Clowney (2011-12) 21.0
6. Devin Taylor (2009-12) 18.5
T7. Cecil Caldwell (1997-00) 15.5
T7. Cliff Matthews (2007-10) 15.5
T9. Stacy Evans (1993-94) 15.0
T9. Kalimba Edwards (1998-01) 15.0
T9. George Gause (2001-04) 15.0
HE’S NOT ALONE: Jadeveon Clowney is not the only Gamecock who can get to the quarterback. Fifth-year senior Chaz Sutton, who has spent the past two years backing up Clowney and Devin Taylor (now with the Detroit Lions), logged 5.0 sacks last season and has 13.5 tackles for loss during his career. Junior defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles, who has made some preseason All-SEC squads, mans the middle of the line. The 6-4, 298-pounder logged 3.5 sacks and 8.0 tackles for loss last season.
WHO ARE YOU?: The Gamecocks graduated five seniors who manned the linebacker and spur positions a year ago and will look to a host of youngsters to fill in those slots this season. Sophomores Kaiwan Lewis and Marcquis Roberts started at the two linebacker spots in the season opener, but will be pushed to hold onto those starting assignments. Sophomore Cedrick Cooper, who dislocated his elbow in the preseason, and redshirt freshman T.J. Holloman will also get plenty of opportunities this season. A trio of true freshmen, Skai Moore, Larenz Bryant and Jonathan Walton, have been impressive as well, and could log some important minutes.
SECONDARY IN NATURE: South Carolina returns three starters in the secondary in junior cornerback Victor Hampton, senior cornerback Jimmy Legree and junior safety Brison Williams. Hampton is considered the shutdown corner, while Legree has played both corner and safety during his career.
HULL OF A PUNTER: Junior Tyler Hull returns for his second season as the Gamecocks’ punter. The 6-2, 206-pounder from Mount Airy, N.C. spent his first season at Guilford College before transferring to South Carolina just prior to the start of the 2012 campaign. Last season, he averaged 39.4 yards per punt. 22 of his 54 punts were fair catches, while 12 went inside the 20.
THEY’RE BACK: The Gamecocks welcomed 36 returning letterwinners to begin the 2013 campaign. That group consists of 19 offensive players, 16 defensive players and one special teams player. The Gamecocks lost 24 lettermen, including 10 on offense, 11 on defense and three from special teams.
FOR STARTERS: The Gamecocks listed 12 returning starters from the 2012 squad (six on offense, five on defense and one specialist). The returning offensive starters are OG A.J. Cann, WR Bruce Ellington, OG Ronald Patrick, OT Corey Robinson, QB Connor Shaw and OT Brandon Shell. The returning defensive starters include DE Jadeveon Clowney, CB Victor Hampton, CB Jimmy Legree, DT Kelcy Quarles, SS Brison Williams. The lone returning specialist is P Tyler Hull.
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: The Gamecocks said goodbye to 26 lettermen from last year’s bowl roster including 12 starters. The departing starters include TE Justice Cunningham, OC T.J. Johnson, TB Marcus Lattimore, WR D.L. Moore and WR Ace Sanders on the offensive side of the ball and LB Reginald Bowens, SPR DeVonte Holloman, DT Byron Jerideau, FS D.J. Swearinger, DE Devin Taylor and LB Shaq Wilson on the defensive side of the ball, along with PK Adam Yates.
IN THE CLASSROOM: The Gamecocks placed 29 players on the 2012 SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll while posting a team GPA of 2.918, highest in school history. Among those who made the SEC Honor Roll include returnees Landon Ard, K.J. Brent, Damiere Byrd, A.J. Cann, Shon Carson, Gerald Dixon Jr., Phillip Dukes, Bruce Ellington, Deon Green, Mason Harris, Tyler Hull, Kadetrix Marcus, Drew Owens, Ronald Patrick, Kelvin Rainey, Corey Robinson, Brandon Shell, Brock Stadnik, Clayton Stadnik and Dylan Thompson.
THEY PAY TO SEE THE GAMECOCKS PLAY: The Gamecocks ranked 18th in the nation in home attendance in 2012, averaging 80,001 at Williams-Brice Stadium. That included a school-record 85,199 who were on hand to watch the Gamecocks thump Georgia, 35-7. The Gamecocks opened the 2013 season with a capacity crowd of 81,572 against North Carolina. The Florida and Clemson games are already sold out, while a limited number of tickets remain for the other four home games.
KEEPING THE FANS HAPPY: The Gamecocks have taken care of business against their top rivals in recent seasons. Over the past three years, they are an impressive 11-1 against SEC Eastern Division rivals Georgia (3-0), Florida (2-1) and Tennessee (3-0) and against in-state rival Clemson (3-0). In fact, Carolina has won the Palmetto State Championship four years in a row, the longest winning streak over the Tigers since 1951-54.
IT’S A NUMBERS GAME: The Gamecocks returned 42 percent of their rushing yards, 96 percent of their passing yards and 54 percent of their receiving yards from a year ago, In addition, six of the squad’s top 13 tacklers, return for the 2013 campaign.
GOOD HOME COOKIN’: The Gamecocks have won their last 12 games at Williams-Brice Stadium. Carolina is 28-3 in its last 31 home games. The only home losses since 2009 came to top-ranked Florida in 2009, to 17th-ranked Arkansas in 2010 and to defending national champion Auburn in 2011.
PERFECT AT HOME: The Gamecocks went 7-0 at home in 2012. It marked the first time they ran the table at home since joining the SEC. The last time they went undefeated at home was in 1987. They have been undefeated and untied at home 10 times.
TOP HOME STREAKS: The Gamecocks have won 12-straight home games, their longest stretch since joining the SEC and the third-longest streak in school history. Here are the top home winning streaks: YEARS WINS
2011-2013 (current) 12
AN SEC SIX-PACK: With a 6-2 SEC mark in 2012, 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 2012 with at least a .500 SEC mark for the 10th time in 21 seasons and have put together three-straight .500-or-better SEC records for the first time in school history.
WHO’S PAYING FOR THIS?: Two walk-ons were rewarded with scholarships for the 2013-14 school year this fall. Junior fullback Connor McLaurin and junior cornerback Sidney Rhodes will have their school tabs paid for this year.
LONGTIME VOICES: Former Gamecock great quarterback Tommy Suggs (1968-70) is in his 40th year describing Gamecock football from the radio booth. Suggs is one of just six active announcers at the Division I level who have worked for each of the last 40 years in the radio booth.
UP NEXT: The Gamecocks will return home for another SEC Eastern Division clash when they take on the Vanderbilt Commodores (0-1, 0-1 SEC) on Saturday, September 14. The Gamecocks hold a commanding 18-4 lead in the all-time series with the `Dores, including wins in each of the last four meetings. Vandy did not tally more than 13 points in any of those four meetings. South Carolina opened the 2012 season with a hard-fought 17-13 win in Nashville.