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Oct. 11, 2013

October 11, 2013

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South Carolina Notes

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The No. 14/12 South Carolina Gamecocks (4-1, 2-1 SEC) travel to Fayetteville to face the Arkansas Razorbacks (3-3, 0-2 SEC) on Saturday, October 12. Game time is set for 12:21 p.m. ET with Dave Neal and Andre Ware in the booth and Cara Capuano working the sidelines for SEC TV. ABC Columbia (WOLO-25) will carry the game locally. Todd Ellis and Tommy Suggs handle the call for the Gamecock Radio Network with Langston Moore on the sidelines. WKNT (107.5 The Game) in Columbia is the flagship station for Gamecock Athletics.

Date: Saturday, October 12
Kickoff: 12:21 p.m. ET
Location: Fayetteville, Ark.
Stadium: Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium (72,000)
Series: Arkansas leads 13-8
RADIO Flagship – 107.5 FM “The Game” & the IMG Network

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 22 games over the .500 mark with an all-time record of 568-546-44. The Gamecocks were nine games under .500 until head coach Steve Spurrier took the reins in 2005, but are 31 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 74-96-1 all-time in SEC regular-season play, but are 19-8 since 2010 in conference action.

CAROLINA VS. ARKANSAS: This is the 22nd game in a series that dates back to 1992 when both schools joined the SEC. The Razorbacks lead the all-time series, 13-8. The Razorbacks hold an 8-2 advantage when the games have been played in their home state (5-1 in Fayetteville and 3-1 in Little Rock), but the Gamecocks have won six of 11 in Columbia. Arkansas has won three of the last four meetings, but Carolina won last year by a 38-20 margin. South Carolina has dropped its last three contests in Fayetteville, with its last win coming by a 14-10 score in 2005.

SPURRIER VS. ARKANSAS: Steve Spurrier owns a 6-5 career record against the Razorbacks, including a 3-5 mark as the coach of the Gamecocks. He is 2-3 in Fayetteville, 2-2 in Columbia, 1-0 in Gainesville, and 1-0 in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.

THE LAST TIME THEY MET: No. 12/11 South Carolina amassed 383 yards of offense and forced three turnovers en route to a 38-20 win over Arkansas on November 10, 2012 in Columbia. Connor Shaw completed 14-of-22 passes for 272 yards and two TDs and ran for another. Bruce Ellington caught five passes for 104 yards. D.J. Swearinger had a 69-yard interception return for a touchdown early in the third quarter to break the game open. The 20 points scored by the Razorbacks were the fewest they have tallied in the series since scoring just 10 points in the 2005 contest. The win snapped SC’s three-game losing streak to the Hogs.

THE LAST TIME THEY MET IN FAYETTEVILLE: In a battle of Top-10 teams, No. 10 South Carolina pulled to within two points early in the fourth quarter, but No. 8 Arkansas responded with the game’s final 14 points in a 44-28 Razorback victory in Fayetteville on Nov. 5, 2011. Tyler Wilson completed 20-of-37 passes for 299 yards for the Hogs as they rolled up 435 yards of offense compared to just 207 for Carolina. Special teams also came up big for Arkansas as Zach Hocker hit three field goals and Dennis Johnson took a kickoff 98 yards for a score. Connor Shaw rushed for two touchdowns and the Gamecocks got a defensive score from Devin Taylor on a 48-yard “pick-six.”

TRENDING POINTS FROM THE DEFENSE: In each of the last three meetings with the Razorbacks, the Carolina defense has produced a touchdown. In the 2010 game in Columbia, Byron McKnight returned a fumble one yard for a score. In 2011, Devin Taylor intercepted a pass and sprinted 48 yards for a touchdown. Last season, it was D.J. Swearinger with a 69-yard interception return on a “pick-six”.

THE LAST TIME OUT: The No. 13/12 Gamecocks returned to SEC action last Saturday with a 35-28 win over Eastern Division rival Kentucky at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia. The Gamecocks scored touchdowns on each of their first three possessions to open up a 21-0 lead early in the second period and held a 27-7 cushion heading into the final stanza, but Kentucky rallied with three fourth-quarter touchdowns to make it close. Connor Shaw continued his brillance against the Wildcats, completing 17-of-20 passes for 262 yards, including a 62-yard TD strike to Damiere Byrd to open the scoring. Shaw added 50 yards on the ground with a TD, including a season-best 31-yard burst. Mike Davis went over the 100-yard mark for the fourth time in five games this season with a 106-yard effort on 21 carries with two scores. The defense played without All-American Jadeveon Clowney, who did not dress due to a strained muscle in the rib area. It was Coach Spurrier’s 20th career win over Kentucky.

SCORING EARLY…: The Gamecocks needed just 1:39 to get on the scoreboard in the win over Kentucky, as Connor Shaw hit Damiere Byrd on a 62-yard scoring strike on the game’s fourth play. It was the fourth time in five games this season that Carolina has scored on its first possession:

…AND OFTEN: The Gamecocks have tallied 55 first-quarter points in their five games, despite being shutout in the first stanza at UCF. They tallied 17 versus North Carolina, 21 against Vanderbilt and 14 against Kentucky. 35 percent of the Gamecocks’ 155 points have been scored in the first quarter and 96 points (62 percent) have been scored in the first half of their games this season.

GOOD RIDDANCE: No one will be happier to see Connor Shaw graduate than Kentucky. In three starts, against the Wildcats, all wins, Shaw completed 58-of-77 passes (75.3 percent) for 721 yards with seven touchdowns and no interceptions. He added 168 yards rushing in the three contests.

GOING FOR TWO: The Gamecocks’ final points in the win over Kentucky came on a two-point conversion when Connor Shaw found Nick Jones in the back of the endzone. It marked the first successful two-point attempt for the Gamecocks since 2003 against UAB.

MAKE THE MOST OF FEW POSSESSIONS: The Gamecocks had just eight possessions in which they took an offensive snap against Kentucky. Carolina scored on six of the eight possessions with four touchdowns and two field goals. They punted once and ran out the clock in their final possession.

SCORING WITH REGULARITY: Over the last six quarters, Carolina has logged 14 offensive possessions, not counting the two they ran out the clock to end the game. The Gamecocks have scored on 10 of those 14 possessions with eight touchdowns and two field goals. They have punted twice and fumbled twice.

FAST START: South Carolina has opened the 2013 season with a 4-1 record. It’s the fifth-straight season that the Gamecocks have opened with at least four wins in the first five games, and the sixth time in the last seven years that Carolina has opened at least 4-1.

LONG DRIVE CONTEST: South Carolina has put together 13 touchdown drives this season of 75 yards or longer, including at least two against every opponent. Three have been over 90 yards. Here are the long drives:

BEST OFFENSE IN HISTORY?: Through five games, Carolina has generated 2,382 yards of offense, 476.4 yards/game. That’s the school’s high water mark for the season’s first five games since at least 1962, when full records are available. That average has them ranked fifth in the SEC and 30th in the country.

AVERAGING 500: The Gamecocks have logged over 1,000 yards of offense in consecutive games twice this season, going for 454 at Georgia before gaining 579 against Vanderbilt, then coupling the Vandy total with the 490 gained at UCF. It is just the eighth and ninth time since joining the SEC in 1992 that Carolina has produced 1,000 or more yards of offense in back-to-back games. They have also gained over 1,500 yards in three consecutive games twice this season, just the third and fourth times that has occurred since 1992. It was done previously in 1995 and again in 2006.

THE 2013 RANKINGS: 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. They were ranked sixth in both polls after week one, but slipped to No. 13/14 following a road loss at Georgia when they were the underdog. They were ranked No. 12/13 for consecutive weeks, then flip-flopped those two spots for one week. This week they dropped one spot to No. 14 in the A.P. poll, their lowest ranking of the season, and stayed at No. 12 in the Coaches’ poll.

YES THEY CALL IT A STREAK: 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 54-consecutive weeks, trailing only Alabama, LSU, Oregon and Oklahoma. Carolina’s streak started with the second week of the 2010 season and is the longest consecutive streak in school history.

THE HEAD BALL COACH: Steve Spurrier is in his ninth season directing the Gamecock football program. He has logged a 70-38 mark (.648) in Columbia. The Head Ball Coach is Carolina’s winningest coach with 70 victories and is second in games coached with 108, behind Rex Enright (140). Coach Spurrier owns a 212-78-2 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 the 2012 the regular-season finale at Clemson. He surpassed Rex Enright (64) for the most coaching wins in school history. He now owns 70 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 212 wins. In addition, the HBC has 47 wins as a head coach at the professional level, giving him 259 career coaching wins.

NEW TERRITORY: The 2013 Outback Bowl marked the seventh time Coach Spurrier has taken Carolina to a bowl game. They have been bowl-eligible in each of his eight campaigns. No other coach in history has taken the Gamecocks to more than three bowl games. Coach Spurrier is 3-4 in bowl games at Carolina, including back-to-back bowl wins over Nebraska (Capital One Bowl) and Michigan (Outback Bowl). He is the only Gamecock coach to post three bowl victories.

SHAW IS YOUR STARTER: Senior quarterback Connor Shaw, a 6-1, 209-pounder from Flowery Branch, Ga., is 21-4 as a starter, including a 13-0 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. In the loss at Georgia, he became the ninth player in school history to pass for over 4,000 yards in a career, hence becoming the first 4,000-1,000 player in school history. He is the school’s all-time leader in completion percentage at 67.2 percent, is fourth with 39 touchdown passes, and is fourth in total offense with 5,961 yards.

IF NOTHING ELSE, HE’S EFFICIENT: Connor Shaw ranks ninth in the country in pass efficiency.

THROWING STRIKES: When the Gamecocks pitch it around, there’s been no one who has been more accurate in school history than Connor Shaw. Shaw is hitting 67.2 percent of his career pass attempts and has gone a career-best 138 pass attempts without an interception. This season, he is hitting on 68.8 percent of his pass attempts, putting him on pace for a school record, breaking his own mark of 67.5.

QB WINS SINCE 1971: Connor Shaw became just the fifth quarterback at Carolina since 1971 (and most likely in school history) to record 20 or more wins as a starter. Shaw easily has the best winning percentage of the group with an 84.0 percent success rate. Here are the starting quarterbacks with the most wins at South Carolina since 1971:

Quarterback (Record) – Pct.
Todd Ellis (24-16-3) – .593
Connor Shaw (21-4), – .840
Garry Harper (20-12-1) – .621
Stephen Garcia (20-14) – .588
Steve Taneyhill (20-19-1) – .526
Phil Petty (17-12) – .586
Jeff Grantz (14-14) – .500
Blake Mitchell (13-10) – .565

THROWN’ IN THE WIND: Junior Dylan Thompson, a 6-3, 218-pounder from Boiling Springs, S.C., has proven to be a worthy backup for Connor Shaw. In 2012, Thompson led the Gamecocks to wins over East Carolina and Clemson in his two starts, throwing for over 300 yards on both occasions. He 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 11 seconds remaining in the contest. In 2013, Thompson completed a 29-yard TD pass to Kane Whitehurst in the season opener against North Carolina, the only snap he took from scrimmage in that game. In his first series against Vanderbilt he led the team on a eight-play, 76-yard drive that culminated with his three-yard TD run. He played most of the game at UCF, completing 15-of-32 passes for 261 yards. For the season, he is 24-of-45 (53.3 percent) for 378 yards and one TD with two interceptions.

I LIKE MIKE: Sophomore running back Mike Davis has put together four 100-yard rushing games in five contests this season. The Lithonia, Ga. product had 115 yards in the season opener against North Carolina, 149 at UGA, was held to 77 by Vanderbilt before rebounding with a career-high 167 yards in the win at UCF, then logged 106 against Kentucky. Davis is the SEC’s leading rusher, averaging 122.8 yards per contest, is second in all-purpose yardage at 159.0 yards per game, and is tied for second in scoring at 9.6 points per game. Davis ranks 10th in the nation in rushing and 14th in all-purpose yardage.

WITH 50 YOU GET 72: There have been 72 recorded rushes of 50 yards or more from scrimmage in South Carolina history. Mike Davis has logged four of those in his first 17 games. He had a 50-yarder as a true freshman against UAB last season. His 75-yard burst against North Carolina in the 2013 season opener and his first career start was the longest by a Gamecock since Bobby Wallace went for 88 against Middle Tennessee in 2006, and tied for the 12th-longest run in school history. He matched that with another 75-yard burst at Georgia, playing for the first time as a collegian in his home state. Of the 14 runs in school history of 75 yards or longer, Davis is the only one to do it twice. His fourth-career 50-yard jaunt came at UCF, a 53-yard TD run. Only Derek Watson has more runs of 50-plus yards at Carolina.

100-YARD EFFORTS: The Gamecocks have four 100-yard rushing games this season, all from Mike Davis, matching their total from a season ago when they got three from Marcus Lattimore and one from Kenny Miles. Davis become the third player on the 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. Only 15 backs in Carolina history have more 100-yard rushing games than Davis has logged in his brief career.

CATCH THIS: The Gamecocks have spread the wealth in the passing game this season with 15 different players getting receptions and four different players leading the team in receiving in the five games this season. The top three receivers are all juniors:

Bruce Ellington is the top returning receiver. He logged 40 receptions for 600 yards and seven touchdowns last season. After a slow start, he had his best game as a Gamecock against Vanderbilt, catching eight passes for 111 yards, both career highs. For the season, he has a team-high 15 catches for a team-best 236 yards with one touchdown. Ellington went over the 1,000-yard receiving mark for his career in the win at UCF.

Nick Jones is not the biggest guy on the roster or have the most raw talent. All he does is catch passes. The 5-7, 174-pounder from Moore, S.C. had his best game as a Gamecock, catching six passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns in the loss at Georgia, all career highs. His TD catches came from 18 and 30 yards out. His previous highs were four receptions (4 times) and 78 receiving yards. He had just one career touchdown coming into the season, but has found paydirt three times in 2013. For the season, he has 14 catches for 157 yards and three scores.

Damiere Byrd, the fastest player on the squad, has come on strong in the last two contests. He caught a career-high five passes for 74 yards at UCF, then had another five-catch game against Kentucky, this time for a career-high 98 yards, including a 62-yard touchdown reception. He has 13 catches on the season for 206 yards with 1 TD.

THE O-LINE: The Gamecocks boast a veteran offensive line with four returning starters. Junior left guard A.J. Cann is the most experienced of the group with 30 career starts, the most on the squad, and is an All-SEC candidate. Senior right guard Ronald Patrick started all 13 games last season and has made 18 consecutive starts. Junior left tackle Corey Robinson started nine of the final 10 games a season ago, while right tackle Brandon Shell was a Freshman All-American while making 10 starts in 2012. The two tackles have started every game this season. The lone newcomer is at center, where a pair of redshirt freshmen, Cody Waldrop and Clayton Stadnik have split time. Waldrop started the opener, but suffered a foot sprain in the win over North Carolina. He was replaced by Stadnik, who started the next two games before Waldrop returned to face UCF. Waldrop was injured again in that contest, so Stadnik was handed the starting duties against Kentucky.

SEC POW’S: Redshirt freshman Clayton Stadnik was honored as the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week for his performance against Vanderbilt. The 6-3, 281-pounder from Greensboro, N.C. graded out at 82 percent while playing all 87 snaps in the win over the Commodores. The line did not give up a sack or quarterback hurry in that contest while rolling up 579 yards of offense. Clayton’s twin brother, Brock, is also a member of the Carolina offensive line, and was the more highly-recruited of the two. Left guard A.J. Cann was selected for his efforts at UCF. Cann led the charge for the Gamecocks’ offensive line that helped amass 225 yards on the ground, including 167 from Mike Davis, and four rushing touchdowns, and another 265 yards through the air. The 6-4, 314-pound junior from Bamberg, S.C., played all 80 offensive snaps, grading out at 86 percent with no sacks or pressures.

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN: Fresh off his trip to L.A. to receive the ESPY Award for the top play of the year, Jadeveon Clowney is back to cause havoc for quarterbacks around the southeast. As a sophomore, 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). The 6-6, 274-pounder was on everyone’s preseason All-America list and a legitimate candidate for all the national awards. With 2.0 sacks and 3.0 tackles for loss this season, he continues to move up the all-time Carolina charts in those categories. In addition, he has nine career forced fumbles. Here’s where he ranks on Carolina’s all-time lists after just two-plus seasons:

FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE: Jadeveon Clowney is not the only Gamecock who can get to the quarterback. Junior Kelcy Quarles, another All-SEC candidate, leads the team with 4.0 sacks and 5.0 tackles for loss in 2013. He logged 3.5 sacks and 8.0 tackles for loss last season. 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. He is second on the team with 4.5 tackles for loss this season and has 16.0 in his career.

SACK MASTERS: After leading the SEC and finishing fifth in the country with 43 sacks a year ago, the Gamecocks are among the leaders again in sacks this season. With 14 sacks, an average of 2.80 per game, they rank third in the SEC and 22nd in the country.

BEHIND ENEMY LINES: The Gamecocks not only are averaging 2.80 sacks per game, they have tallied 37 tackles for loss, an average of 7.40 tackles for loss per game, the nation’s 20th-best mark. 17 different players have contributed to the 37 TFL’s, led by Kelcy Quarles (5.0), Chaz Sutton (4.5) and Jimmy Legree (4.0).

SECONDARY IN NATURE: South Carolina returned 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. Legree has an interception in two of the last three games and has five in his career.

THE FRISCO KID: True freshman Elliott Fry walked on to the Gamecock squad this summer and earned the starting placekicking chores. The Frisco, Texas product is a perfect 5-for-5 in field goal attempts this season, hitting from 39 and 26 yards in the season opener against North Carolina and on a 36-yarder at Georgia. After not getting an attempt against either Vanderbilt or UCF, he hit on 40- and 41-yard field goals against Kentucky. He is seventh in the SEC in scoring among kickers, averaging 6.6 points per game. He became the first true freshman placekicker to kick in the Gamecocks’ season opener since Courtney Leavitt in 1996.

HULL OF A PUNTER: Junior Tyler Hull is in 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. This year he is averaging 37.7 yards per punt with five of his 14 punts inside the 20 and a long of 55 yards.

GOOD HOME COOKIN’: The Gamecocks have won their last 14 games at Williams-Brice Stadium. Carolina is 30-3 in its last 33 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. The Gamecocks’ 13-game home winning streak is the third-longest in the nation, trailing only Michigan (18) and Georgia (15).

TOP HOME STREAKS: The Gamecocks have won 14-straight home games, their longest stretch since joining the SEC and tying for the second-longest streak in school history. Only a 15-game home winning streak from 1978-80 has been longer.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Gamecocks will continue their three-game road swing on Saturday, October 19, with a stop in Knoxville for an SEC Eastern Division showdown with the Tennessee Volunteers. Tennessee leads the all-time series, 22-7-2, including a 14-2 advantage in Knoxville. South Carolina has won each of the last three meetings. They had never won back-to-back meetings against the Vols prior to the current streak. Carolina won by a 38-35 count in Columbia last season and by a 14-3 margin in 2011, the last time they met in Knoxville.