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Nov. 15, 2013

November 15, 2013

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South Carolina Notes

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The No. 11/12 South Carolina Gamecocks (7-2, 5-2 SEC) wrap up their 2013 SEC regular-season slate on Saturday, Nov. 16, when they host the Florida Gators (4-5, 3-4 SEC) at Williams-Brice Stadium. Game time is set for 7 p.m. ET with Joe Tessitore and Matt Millen in the booth and Maria Taylor on the sidelines for ESPN2. John Sadak and Chris Doering have the call for the national radio broadcast on WestwoodOne Sports. Todd Ellis and Tommy Suggs handle the call for the Gamecock Radio Network with Langston Moore on the sidelines. WKNT (107.5 The Game) is the flagship station for Gamecock Athletics.

Date: Saturday, November 16
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Location: Columbia, S.C.
Stadium: Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250)
Series: Florida leads 24-6-3
RADIO Flagship – 107.5 FM “The Game” & the IMG Network; National Radio – Westwood One Sports

SETTING THE STAGE: The No. 11/12 South Carolina Gamecocks (7-2, 5-2 SEC) wrap up their 2013 SEC regular-season slate on Saturday, Nov. 16, when they host the Florida Gators (4-5, 3-4 SEC) at Williams-Brice Stadium. Game time is set for 7 p.m. ET with Joe Tessitore and Matt Millen in the booth and Maria Taylor on the sidelines for ESPN2. John Sadak and Chris Doering have the call for the national radio broadcast on WestwoodOne Sports. Todd Ellis and Tommy Suggs handle the call for the Gamecock Radio Network with Langston Moore on the sidelines. WKNT (107.5 The Game) is the flagship station for Gamecock Athletics.

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 25 games over the .500 mark with an all-time record of 572-547-44. The Gamecocks were nine games under .500 until head coach Steve Spurrier took the reins in 2005, but are 34 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 77-97-1 all-time in SEC regular-season play, but are 22-9 since 2010 in conference action.

CAROLINA VS. FLORIDA: This is the 34th meeting in a series that dates back to 1911. The Gators lead the all-time series, 24-6-3, including a 10-5-1 advantage in Columbia. The Gamecocks have won two of the last three contests. South Carolina won for the first time in Gainesville in 2010, 36-14, with the SEC Eastern Division title on the line.

SPURRIER VS. FLORIDA: Steve Spurrier owns a 3-5 record against his alma mater including a 2-2 mark in Columbia. The first time he was on the opposing sideline, Spurrier defeated the Gators at Williams-Brice Stadium by a 30-22 score in 2005. After four straight losses, he and the Gamecocks won in Gainesville by a 36-14 score for the SEC Eastern Division title in 2010. Carolina made it two straight with a 17-12 win in 2011 in Columbia. Florida won last year’s contest, 44-11 in Gainesville.

THE LAST TIME THEY MET: No. 9/8 South Carolina was unable to overcome four costly turnovers as it fell to No. 3/4 Florida, 44-11 on October 30, 2012 in “The Swamp.” In a game in which neither offense could muster much of an attack, the Gamecocks actually outgained the Gators, 191-183, but the turnovers allowed Florida an average starting field position of the 50-yard line. The Gators had nearly as many points (21) in the first half as they did yards gained (29), but their three scoring drives started at the Carolina 2-, 29- and 1-yard line. The Carolina defense forced seven “three-and-outs” in the game. Adam Yates kicked three field goals and Victor Hampton scored on a blocked PAT return to account for Carolina’s points.

THE LAST TIME THEY MET IN COLUMBIA: Connor Shaw rushed for a then-career-high 88 yards and two touchdowns and completed 6-of-12 passes for 81 yards to lead No. 15 South Carolina to a 17-12 win over Florida on November 12, 2011 in Columbia. In a defensive struggle Carolina finished the day with 299 yards of offense while holding the Gators to 261 yards. Freshman Brandon Wilds rushed for 120 yards on 29 carries.

BEATING THE EAST: The Gamecocks are 3-2 against SEC Eastern Division foes this season and 17-4 over the past four seasons. They had never won more than four games in the division prior to Coach Spurrier’s arrival, but have done it four times since 2005.

BOWL ELIGIBLE: South Carolina is 7-2 on the season and is bowl-eligible for the 10th-straight year. It’s the third-straight season that the Gamecocks have opened with seven wins in their first nine games. Both the 2011 and `12 teams won their final four contests (including the bowl game) to finish 11-2.

GOOD HOME COOKIN’: The Gamecocks have won their last 15 games at Williams-Brice Stadium and are 31-3 in their 34 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’ 15-game home winning streak is the longest in the nation, one more than Ohio State and Stanford. Northern Illinois has won 25-straight games in its home stadium, but the NCAA considers its loss to Iowa at Chicago’s Soldier Field in the 2012 season opener as a “home” loss and credits them with a nine-game home winning streak.

TOP HOME STREAKS: The Gamecocks have won 15-straight home games, their longest stretch since joining the SEC and tying for the longest streak in school history with a mark set from 1978-80.

PERFECT AT HOME: The Gamecocks are 4-0 at home this season. They 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 had gone undefeated at home prior to 2012 was in 1987. They have been undefeated and untied at home 10 times.

THE LAST TIME OUT: The No. 14/16 Gamecocks returned home after a three-game road swing to host the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Saturday, November 2, and came away with a 34-16 win. Connor Shaw completed just 10 passes, but four of them went for touchdowns, tying his career high, including two to Shaq Roland. Mike Davis rushed for 128 yards, going over the 100-yard mark for the seventh time in nine games this season and surpassing the 1,000-yard plateau for the season. The Carolina defense, led by SEC Defensive Player of the Week Victor Hampton, forced a season-high five turnovers in the contest.

HIGH FIVE: The Gamecocks forced a season-high five turnovers (3 interceptions, 2 fumbles) in the win over Mississippi State. It was the most turnovers they had forced in a game since logging five against East Carolina in 2012. The Gamecocks had forced just 11 turnovers in the first eight games before the Mississippi State game. For the season, Carolina is now plus-1 in turnover margin.

BETTER THAN AVERAGE: The Carolina defense has held seven of its nine opponents below their season scoring average, with five held double-digits below that average. Only Georgia and Kentucky scored more against the Gamecocks than their season average. Overall, Carolina is holding its opponents to eight points less a game than they are accustomed to scoring.

STAYING ON THE FIELD: Through six games, Carolina had been one of the best teams in the country in logging the fewest 3-and-outs, recording just seven in their first 60 drives. Over the last three games, the Carolina offense has been less efficient, accounting for 15 3-and-outs in 42 drives. For the season, Carolina has been held to 3-and-out 22 times in 102 drives, 21.6 percent of the time. Meanwhile, the Gamecocks have scored on 47-of-102 drives, 46.1 percent, with 37 TDs.

BEST OFFENSE IN HISTORY?: Carolina is averaging 456.4 yards per game of total offense, including 200.8 on the ground and 255.7 through the air. They are on pace to easily shatter the school record for average yards of total offense.

LONG DRIVE CONTEST: South Carolina has put together 18 touchdown drives this season of 75 yards or longer. Four have been over 90 yards.

THE GOLDEN AGE OF GAMECOCK FOOTBALL: The Gamecocks have put together back-to-back 11-win seasons, the first back-to-back double-digit win seasons in school history. The only previous 10-win campaign came in 1984. Entering the 2013 campaign, the Gamecocks had won 22 games over the past two seasons, 31 over the past three seasons, and 38 over the past four seasons, all school records. This year’s senior class has matched last year’s class for the most wins in a four-year period in school history at 38 victories.

THE HEAD BALL COACH: Steve Spurrier is in his ninth season directing the Gamecock football program. He has logged a 73-39 mark (.652) in Columbia. The Head Ball Coach is Carolina’s winningest coach with 73 victories and is second in games coached with 112, behind Rex Enright (140). Coach Spurrier owns a 215-79-2 mark (.730) in 24 seasons as a collegiate head coach, with previous stops at Duke and Florida.

ATOP THE LIST: Steve Spurrier became the all-time winningest coach at Carolina in the 2012 the regular-season finale at Clemson, surpassing Rex Enright (64) for the most coaching wins in school history. 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 215 wins. In addition, the HBC has 47 wins as a head coach at the professional level, giving him 262 career wins.

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 59-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.

LEADER OF THE PACK: Senior quarterback Connor Shaw is 23-5 as a starter, including a 14-0 mark at home. With 5,282 yards passing and 1,500 yards rushing, he is not only the first 4,000-1,000 yard player in school history, but the first 5,000-1,000. He is the school’s all-time leader in completion percentage at 65.6 percent, is second with 50 touchdown passes, and is fourth in total offense with 6,782 yards. Shaw has been named one of 16 semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien Award and is one of 10 finalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.

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 65.6 percent of his career pass attempts. He had gone a career-best and school record 177 pass attempts without an interception before getting picked at Tennessee. He has now gone 236 passes with just the one INT. This season he ranks fourth in the SEC and ninth in the country in pass efficiency with a mark of 164.1, tossing 18 touchdowns with one interception while completing 62.9 percent of his passes.

JUST WIN BABY: Connor Shaw became just the fifth quarterback at Carolina to record 20 or more wins as a starter. He needs one win to tie Todd Ellis’s school record of 24 career wins as the starting quarterback. Shaw easily has the best winning percentage of the QB’s with 20 or more wins with an 82.1 percent success rate.

THROWN’ IN THE WIND: Junior Dylan Thompson, a 6-3, 218-pounder from Boiling Springs, S.C., has proven to be a solid replacement if Shaw is unable to play. Thompson is 3-0 as a starter in his career. His two starts in 2012 came against East Carolina and at Clemson and he responded by throwing for over 300 yards with three touchdowns in both of those contests. In addition, 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 has made one start, getting the nod at Missouri. He went 15-for-27 for 222 yards with one INT in that contest. He also saw significant action at UCF, going 15-for-32 for 261 yards with one pick. For the season, he is 44-of-78 (56.4 percent) for 643 yards and two TD’s with three interceptions. Both of his touchdown passes have gone to Kane Whitehurst, the only two receptions that Whitehurst has made this season.

BE LIKE MIKE: Sophomore running back Mike Davis has put together seven 100-yard rushing games this season, earning a midseason addition to the Maxwell Award watch list, and spots on Phil Steele’s midseason first-team All-SEC and third-team All-America squads. He became the 41st player in school history to reach the 1,000-yard plateau for his career. The Lithonia, Ga. product is the SEC’s leading rusher, averaging 117.6 yards per contest, is second in all-purpose yardage at 153.8 yards per game, and is eighth in scoring at 6.7 points per game. Davis ranks 11th in the nation in rushing and 14th in all-purpose yards. He has scored a touchdown in seven of nine games this season with 10 TDs total.

A SEASON TO REMEMBER: Mike Davis surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark in the win over Mississippi State. He has 1,058 yards through nine games. It’s just the 10th 1,000-yard rushing season in school history and he is the eighth player to accomplish the feat (George Rogers did it three times). He is currently eighth on the school’s single-season rushing list, but needs just 140 yards to move into third place (see the list on the left).

100-YARD EFFORTS: The Gamecocks have seven 100-yard rushing games this season, all from Mike Davis, three more than their total from a season ago when they got three from Marcus Lattimore and one from Kenny Miles. Davis is 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.

CROSSING THE CENTURY MARK: Mike Davis has logged seven 100-yard rushing games this season. Only 10 other Gamecocks have logged as many as seven 100-yard rushing games in a career.

GO THE DISTANCE: 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 two seasons. 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.

RETURN OF WILDS: Sophomore tailback Brandon Wilds is expected to return to the playing field this week. Wilds has been sidelined since dislocating his left elbow in the win at Central Florida. Wilds has rushed for 140 yards on 30 carries this season, an average of 4.7 yards per rush with one touchdown. Wilds has three 100-yard rushing games in his career.

ON THE RECEIVING END: The Gamecocks have spread the wealth in the passing game this season with 16 different players getting receptions and four different players leading the team in receiving. The Gamecocks list no seniors on the three-deep at the three wide receiver positions.

Damiere Byrd, the fastest player on the squad, has come on strong of late. After logging just three catches for 34 yards in the first three contests, he has 22 receptions for 451 yards in the last six games. He caught a career-high five passes for 74 yards at UCF, then logged another five-catch game against Kentucky, this time for 98 yards, including a 62-yard touchdown reception. He added a 45-yard scoring pass at Arkansas. At Tennessee, he had four catches for a career-high 121 yards, including a 76-yard TD. He has 25 catches on the season for a team-leading 485 yards with four TDs. He has scored in four of the last five games.

Bruce Ellington is the top returning receiver. He logged 40 receptions for 600 yards and seven touchdowns last season. After a slow start, he broke loose against Vanderbilt, catching eight passes for 111 yards, both then-career highs. He topped that with a 10-catch, 136-yard, 2-touchdown effort at Missouri. For the season, he has a team-high 32 catches for 472 yards with five touchdowns, including two against both Arkansas and Missouri. Ellington went over the 1,000-yard receiving mark for his career in the win at UCF. With 13 career touchdown receptions he is tied for ninth on Carolina’s all-time list.

Shaq Roland, the 2011 “Mr. Football” recipient in the state of South Carolina, caught two passes in the last game against Mississippi State, but both went for touchdowns. He averages 20.2 yards per catch, including a 65-yard TD reception on the Gamecocks’ third play from scrimmage this season.

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 previous highs were four receptions (4 times) and 78 receiving yards. For the season, he has 21 catches for 203 yards and four scores. He had just one career touchdown coming into the season.

MORE BYRD DROPPINGS: Junior wide receiver Damiere Byrd earned a spot on the Capital One Academic All-District 4 Team as a wide receiver for the second-consecutive year. To be nominated, student-athletes must have a 3.30 cumulative grade-point average. He majors in sport and entertainment management.

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 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. Clowney has been named one of 12 semifinalists for the 2013 Rotary Lombardi Award.

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN: Coming 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 6.5 tackles for loss this season, he continues to move up the all-time Carolina charts in those categories. In addition, he has a school-record nine career forced fumbles.

SHARING THE WEALTH: The Gamecocks have used the team approach in stopping their opponents this season. Three players, Jimmy Legree, Marcquis Roberts and Skai Moore, are tied for the team lead with 38 tackles each. Thirteen different players have between 38 and 24 tackles on the season.

FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE: Jadeveon Clowney is not the only one who can get to the quarterback. Junior Kelcy Quarles, an All-SEC candidate, is reaping the benefits of the attention Clowney draws. Quarles leads the team and is fourth in the SEC in sacks (7.0) and is second in tackles for loss (11.0), already surpassing his 2012 totals of 3.5 sacks and 8.0 TFLs. Fifth-year senior Chaz Sutton, who has spent the past two years backing up Clowney and Devin Taylor, logged 5.0 sacks last season. He is tied for second on the team with 6.5 tackles for loss this season and has 18.0 in his career.

BEHIND ENEMY LINES: The Gamecocks have tallied 66 tackles for loss, an average of 7.3 tackles for loss per game, second in the SEC and 17th in the country, including a season-high 14 in the loss at Tennessee. 19 different players have contributed to the TFLs, led by Kelcy Quarles (11.0), Chaz Sutton (6.5), Jadeveon Clowney (6.5), Sharrod Golightly (5.5) and Jimmy Legree (5.5).

SACK MASTERS: The Gamecocks led the SEC and finished fifth in the country with 43 sacks a year ago. This season, Carolina has 18 sacks, an average of 2.0 per game.

NEW BACKERS: The Gamecocks graduated five seniors who manned the linebacker and Spur positions a year ago and have a host of youngsters to fill in those slots this season. The two Will linebackers, sophomore Marcquis Roberts and true freshman Skai Moore are tied for the team lead with 38 tackles. The two Mike linebackers, sophomore Kaiwan Lewis (34) and redshirt freshman T.J. Holloman (32) have also recorded over 30 tackles each.

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 and was the SEC Defensive Player of the Week against Mississippi State, while Legree has played both corner and safety during his career. Legree has five picks in his career, one more than Hampton. The Gamecocks intercepted three passes against Mississippi State after logging just six picks through the first eight contests.

EVERY TIME OUT: Seven players have started every game this year, three on offense and four on defense: Junior offensive guard A.J. Cann, junior spur Sharrod Golightly, senior cornerback Jimmy Legree, junior offensive tackle Corey Robinson, sophomore offensive tackle Brandon Shell, junior defensive tackle J.T. Surratt and senior defensive end Chaz Sutton.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Gamecocks have just two regular season contests remaining. Both are at home and both are against in-state institutions. Carolina will host Coastal Carolina on Saturday, November 23, at 1 p.m. in the first-ever matchup between the two schools on the gridiron. Coastal is a highly-ranked FCS school with a perfect 9-0 record this season. That game will be televised on a pay-per-view basis throughout the state. The regular season will conclude with the annual Palmetto State Showdown with the Clemson Tigers (8-1) on Saturday, November 30, at Williams-Brice Stadium.. The Gamecocks will be looking to make it a school-record five-straight wins over their rivals from the ACC.