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Sept. 12, 2014

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South Carolina Notes

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Gamecocks (1-1, 0-1 SEC) and Georgia Bulldogs (1-0, 0-0 SEC) tangle in an SEC Eastern Division showdown at a sold-out Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia on Saturday, September 13. The 3:30 p.m. ET game will be televised nationally on CBS with Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson in the booth and Allie LaForce on the sidelines. The game will also be broadcast nationally by Westwood One Sports with John Sadak and Derek Rackley serving as the announce team. Todd Ellis and Tommy Suggs handle the call for the Gamecock Radio Network with Langston Moore on the sidelines. WKNT in Columbia (107.5 The Game) is the flagship station for Gamecock Athletics.

Date: Saturday, September 13
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Columbia, S.C.
Stadium: Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250)
Series: Georgia leads 47-17-2
RADIO Flagship – 107.5 FM “The Game” & the IMG Network

WELCOME BACK CBS: The Gamecocks are appearing on CBS for the first time since defeating Arkansas on November 10, 2012. South Carolina has appeared on CBS 22 times, posting a 5-17 record in those contests (including a 4-6 mark at home), but has won three of the last four and four of its last seven games when appearing on CBS. The best win in school-history, a 35-21 win over No. 1 Alabama on October 9, 2010, was televised by CBS.

A South Carolina win over Georgia would…
Be Steve Spurrier’s 201st win as an SEC head coach, tying him with Georgia legend Vince Dooley for second on the all-time list. He currently has 200 career victories as an SEC head coach, 122 at Florida and 80 at South Carolina. Only Paul “Bear” Bryant (292) and Dooley (201) have won more as an SEC head coach.

Be Steve Spurrier’s 16th-career win over the Bulldogs, the most by an opposing head coach against Georgia. Coach Spurrier (15-6) and Auburn’s Shug Jordan (15-10) are tied with 15 career wins over UGA.

Be the Gamecocks’ fourth win in their last five meetings with Georgia.

Be the Gamecocks’ third-straight home win over Georgia. They defeated the Bulldogs 17-6 in 2010 and by a 35-7 score in 2012. South Carolina has never won three-straight at home over UGA.

A LITTLE HISTORY: 2014 marks the 121st season of intercollegiate football at the University of South Carolina, dating back to 1892. It is the 108th-consecutive year in which South Carolina has competed on the gridiron. The University did not field a team in either 1893 or 1906. Carolina owns an all-time record of 577-548-44. The Gamecocks were nine games under .500 until head coach Steve Spurrier took the reins in 2005, but are 38 games over since that time.

SEC HISTORY: 2014 marks South Carolina’s 23rd 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. Carolina was 37-66-1 (.361) in SEC action from 1992-2004, but is 42-32 (.568) in conference play since Coach Spurrier took the reins, including a 19-7 mark over the last four years.

CAROLINA VS. GEORGIA: This is the 67th all-time meeting between these two bordering flagship state schools. Only Clemson (110) has faced the Gamecocks more often than Georgia. The Bulldogs lead the all-time series over South Carolina by a 47-17-2 margin. Georgia holds a 19-9-2 advantage in games played in Columbia, a 27-8 lead in games played in Athens, and won the only game played at a neutral site. Since becoming SEC Eastern Division rivals in 1992, UGA owns a 14-8 advantage in the series.

BETTER OF LATE: The Gamecocks have won three of the past four 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 in 2013, before falling in Athens last season by a 41-30 count. The Gamecocks three-game winning streak from 2010-12 was their first of that length in the series that dates back to 1894.

SPURRIER VS. GEORGIA: South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier owns a 15-6 record against Georgia. He was 11-1 while head coach at Florida, with his lone loss coming in the 1997 season. He is 4-5 in nine tries while in charge of the Gamecock program. His squads have scored 30 or more points in 13 of 21 contests against the Bulldogs and have won by an average score of 30-19.

GEORGIA ON MY MIND: With a win, Steve Spurrier would have more wins against Georgia than any other coach in history. He is currently tied with Auburn’s Shug Jordan with 15 career wins over the Bulldogs.

SPURRIER VS. RICHT: Steve Spurrier has faced Georgia’s Mark Richt 10 times as a head coach, with each coach winning five of those contests. He won the 2001 meeting in his last season as head coach at Florida, and is 4-5 since taking over the Carolina program. Richt was an assistant coach at Florida State from 1987-2000, during which time Coach Spurrier went 5-8-1 vs. the Seminoles.

RECRUITING THE PEACH STATE: The Peach State is well-represented on the Gamecocks’ roster, as 27 players claim Georgia as their home state. That represents 25 percent of the 109-man roster.

THE LAST TIME THEY MET: No. 11 Georgia outlasted No. 6 South Carolina by a 41-30 score on September 7, 2013 in Athens, Ga. The offensive shootout featured 990 yards of total offense. The Bulldogs built a 17-7 lead, but Carolina came back to tie the score at 17. The teams went into intermission deadlocked at 24. After Georgia scored 10 third-quarter points, Carolina rallied back to cut the deficit to 34-30, but Aaron Murray eluded a sack and found Justin Scott-Wesley alone down the sidelines for an 85-yard score, to provide the winning margin. Georgia ran out the final 8:28 of the clock on 13 plays to snap a three-game losing streak to the Gamecocks. In a game that featured two of the SEC’s top running backs, South Carolina’s Mike Davis carried 16 times for 149 yards, outgaining Georgia’s Todd Gurley (30 for 132).

THE LAST TIME IN COLUMBIA: 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.

CASE FOR THE DEFENSE: The Gamecock defense has had Georgia’s number in recent years when the game has been played at Williams-Brice Stadium. The Bulldogs have not scored more than 20 points in any of their last nine trips to Columbia and have been held to two scores or less in each of their last three trips to WBS.

WHEN THEY’RE BOTH RANKED: This week’s game marks the 10th time the two teams have met when they’ve both been nationally-ranked teams. South Carolina owns a 5-4 advantage in those contests including a perfect 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 UGA 7
2013 in Athens: #11 UGA 41, #6 SC 30

RUNNING HARD, MAKING YARDS: The Gamecocks have been able to mount a solid rushing attack against Georgia in recent years. In each of the past four meetings, South Carolina has produced a 100-yard rusher against the Bulldogs, and that player has also been the game’s top rusher:

Year – SC – Att. Yds. – UGA – Att. – Yards
2010 (Lattimore, 37 -182); ( Ealey 19 – 75)
2011 (Lattimore, 27- 176); (Crowell, 16 – 118)
2012 (Lattimore, 24 – 110); ( Malcome, 5 – 45)
2013 (Davis, 16 -149); (Gurley, 30 – 132)

THE STREAK LIVES ON: The Gamecocks are tied for the fifth-longest current streak of being ranked in the A.P.’s Top-25. Carolina and Stanford have been ranked for 67-consecutive polls, trailing only Alabama, LSU, Oregon and Oklahoma. Carolina’s streak started with the second week of the 2010 season and is the longest streak in school history.

GOOD HOME COOKIN’: The Gamecocks had their school-record 18-game home winning streak, the longest in the nation, snapped in the season opener. The school’s previous longest home winning streak was 15 games, set from 1978-80. The Gamecocks are 19-1 in their last 20 games at Williams-Brice Stadium and 35-4 (.897) in their last 39 home games. The only home losses since the start of the 2009 season came to top-ranked Florida in 2009, to 17th-ranked Arkansas in 2010 and to defending national champion Auburn in 2011 before the 2014 loss to Texas A&M.

THE LAST TIME OUT: South Carolina bounced back from a season-opening loss to defeat East Carolina, 33-23 last Saturday night at Williams-Brice Stadium. Dylan Thompson completed 25-of-38 passes for 266 yards, while Mike Davis rushed for 101 yards, his eighth career 100-yard rushing game. Carolina consumed 36:19 of the clock, including an 18-play, 86-yard fourth-quarter drive that used up 10:33 of the period. The defense limited the high-octane Pirate attack to just seven second-half points. Elliott Fry was successful on all four of his field goal attempts. The win was Steve Spurrier’s 200th as an SEC head coach and his 50th win at Williams-Brice Stadium with the Gamecocks.

LONG DRIVE CONTEST: The Gamecocks put together an 18-play, 86-yard drive that consumed 10:33 of the fourth quarter to secure the win over ECU. It was the second-longest scoring drive by time and matched the second-longest scoring drive by plays in the Spurrier Era at Carolina.

BLOCK THAT KICK: Gerald Dixon Jr. blocked an ECU field goal attempt in the second quarter. It was the first blocked field goal for the Gamecocks since Stephon Gilmore accomplished the feat against Tennessee on October 29, 2011.

FIRST START: Five Gamecocks have made their first career starts this season. Three players, all on defense, made their first career start in the season opener against Texas A&M. Getting the nod for the first time were linebackers Jonathan Walton and Bryson Allen-Williams and cornerback Al Harris Jr. Center Alan Knott and safety Chris Moody both made their first start against East Carolina.

STEPPING UP: Fifth-year senior Dylan Thompson takes over as the starting signal-caller for the Gamecocks in 2014. Thompson has waited patiently for his turn behind Connor Shaw, the winningest quarterback in school history. The 6-3, 218-pounder from Boiling Springs, who proposed marriage to his girlfriend at midfield in August, is 4-1 as a starter in his career. He has thrown for over 300 yards in three of his five starts, and has thrown at least three touchdowns in three of his five starts. He also threw the game-winning touchdown in the final seconds of the 2013 Outback Bowl win over Michigan. In the 2104 season opener against Texas A&M, Thompson connected on 20-of-40 passes for a career-high 366 yards, the ninth-highest single-game mark in school history, and a career-high four touchdowns. He was more efficient against East Carolina, connecting on 25-of-38 for 266 yards. After two weeks, he ranks third in the SEC with 316.0 yards passing per game and is third with 321.0 yards per game of total offense. For his career, he has completed 55.7 percent of his passes (165-for-296) for 2,459 yards with 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

A SPECIAL FRIENDSHIP: Fifth-year seniors quarterback Dylan Thompson and offensive guard A.J. Cann have developed a special bond. Not only are they great friends and roommates, but they also spent a week over the summer together in Israel, where they were able to teach some of the locals about football. The once in a lifetime experience was one they will both remember forever.

BE LIKE MIKE: Junior tailback Mike Davis has earned preseason All-America recognition. The 5-9, 223-pounder from Atlanta, Ga., logged the fourth-most single-season rushing yards in school history last season when he rambled for 1,183 yards with 11 touchdowns. He was limited to six carries for 15 yards in the opener against Texas A&M before leaving with bruised ribs, but bounced back with an 18-carry, 101-yard, 2 TD effort against East Carolina. In his third season at Carolina, he ranks 25th in school history with 1,574 rushing yards and owns eight 100-yard rushing games. Of the 41 players in school history with 1,000 or more career rushing yards, Davis’s yards per carry average of 5.6 trails only Carl Brazell’s average of 5.7. Davis is the younger brother of former Clemson standout James Davis.

GO THE DISTANCE: Mike Davis logged four rushes of 50 yards or more in his first two seasons. He had a 50-yarder against UAB in 2012. 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. He matched that with another 75-yard sprint at Georgia. 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. Here’s the list of those with three or more:

AGAIN AND AGAIN: Only 11 players in South Carolina history have eight or more games of 100-yard rushing in their career. That list now includes Mike Davis:

Player 100 Yd Games
George Rogers 27
Brandon Bennett 11
Harold Green 11
Marcus Lattimore 11
Steve Wadiak 10
Duce Staley 9
Derek Watson 9
Thomas Dendy 8
Jay Lynn Hodgin 8
Clarence Williams 8
Mike Davis 8

HE IS NOT ALONE: Although Mike Davis has received the lion’s share of the publicity, he is not the only capable runner in the Gamecock backfield. Junior Brandon Wilds (6-2, 230) has 801 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 173 career carries. Wilds has started each of the first two games this season. As a true freshman in 2011, he started the year as the fifth-team tailback, but as injuries mounted, he climbed the depth chart and posted three 100-yard rushing games, including a career-high 137 against Tennessee. Junior Shon Carson (5-8, 201), who has also dabbled a little in baseball during his Carolina career, possesses a burst, as witnessed by his 58-yard carry against Florida last season. He has served as the kick returner this season and produced a long return of 38 yards against ECU. Redshirt freshman David Williams (6-1, 222) has the size and speed to be the long-term answer at tailback. He recorded his first collegiate carry against ECU.

NOTHING CATCHY ABOUT THIS: The Gamecocks feature four wide receivers that receive the bulk of the action:

Junior Shaq Roland (6-1, 176), a former “Mr. Football” in the state of South Carolina (following in the footsteps of Stephon Gilmore, Marcus Lattimore and Jadeveon Clowney), is the most gifted of the bunch. He came on strong at the end of his sophomore season, posting a career-high 112 receiving yards on six catches in the 2014 Capital One Bowl win over Wisconsin. He had a career-high seven catches for 94 yards against ECU.

Senior Nick “Governor Nicky” Jones (5-7, 168), has been consistent and sometimes overlooked throughout his Carolina career. He just has a knack for getting open and catching the ball. He logged the first 100-yard receiving of his career against Texas A&M, catching five passes for a career-best 113 yards and two touchdowns, including a 69-yard TD reception. He ranks among the SEC’s top-10 in both receptions per game (5.0) and receiving yards per game (78.5) after two contests.

Senior Damiere Byrd (5-9, 170) is the fastest Gamecock and one of the fastest players in the SEC. He has eight career receptions of 40 yards or more, including a 46-yard TD catch against Texas A&M, is a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-District selection and was a captain on the Gamecocks’ track & field squad.

Sophomore Pharoh Cooper (5-11, 201) was an All-SEC Freshman selection last season as both an all-purpose back and return specialist. He had three catches in the season opener against Texas A&M, matching his career total, and topped that with five receptions against ECU. He has also seen some action at the “Wildcat” position.

STELLAR TIGHT ENDS: The Gamecocks are blessed with a pair of standout tight ends. Senior Rory “Busta” Anderson (6-5, 227) is an All-SEC candidate. Anderson has averaged 17.8 yards per catch with eight touchdowns in his career. He suffered a torn triceps muscle late in spring drills but worked his way back and caught three passes for 52 yards in the opener against Texas A&M. Junior Jerell Adams (6-6, 242) has averaged 16.6 yards per catch and had three scores in his first two campaigns. He had two catches for 40 yards against A&M. Senior Cody Gibson (6-7, 278) made the conversion to tight end this fall after spending his career at tackle. Drew Owens could also see action at tight end.

THREE OF THE BEST: The Gamecocks feature what many believe may be the best offensive line in school history, led by three veterans. Senior left guard A.J. Cann (6-4, 311) is the anchor. He has made 40 career starts, the most on the squad, and has been named to five preseason first-team All-America squads. Senior left tackle Corey Robinson (6-8, 344) has made 24 starts and was a second-team preseason All-SEC pick by both the media and coaches. Redshirt junior right tackle Brandon Shell (6-6, 333) has made 25 career starts and was a preseason third-team All-SEC selection by the league’s 14 coaches.

40 FOR CANN: Senior left guard A.J. Cann made his 40th career start against East Carolina. He is just the 11th player in school history to make 40 or more starts for the Garnet & Black.

LIFE WITHOUT CLOWNEY: Senior defensive tackle J.T. Surratt (6-2, 310) becomes the leader the defensive line. He is the only returning starter along the front four, as Carolina looks to replace Jadeveon Clowney, Kelcy Quarles and Chaz Sutton, the first two of whom earned All-America honors. Surratt is the Gamecocks’ active leader in career sack with 2.0. In fact, the entire current roster has combined for just 13.0 sacks, just over half of Clowney’s career total of 24.0. The Gamecocks have just one sack through the season’s first two games. Here are the current players’ sack numbers:

SHARING THE WEALTH: The Gamecocks distributed their tackles fairly evenly last season, with nine players recording between 39 and 56 tackles. Six of the top eight tacklers are back, led by Skai Moore (56) and Kaiwan Lewis (54). That trend seems to be continuing this season, as six players have recorded between nine and 13 tackles. Skai Moore (13) and T.J. Gurley (12) lead the way.

THE SKAI’S THE LIMIT: The best linebacker in the SEC that no one has heard about may be sophomore Skai Moore. The 6-2, 213-pounder from Cooper City, Fla. led the Gamecocks in both tackles (56) and interceptions (4) as a true freshman in 2013, despite starting just four games. He logged six tackles, all solo stops, in the season opener against Texas A&M, including the Gamecocks’ lone sack, and had a team-leading seven stops in last week’s win over East Carolina.

LEADER IN THE SECONDARY: Senior Brison Williams is the unquestioned leader in the secondary. The 5-11, 208-pound senior from Warner Robins, Ga., has played both safety positions during his Gamecock career, but has moved over to corner to start the 2014 campaign. He has started 26 times in his career.

PICK THIS: The Gamecocks intercepted 18 passes a season ago, led by linebacker Skai Moore’s four INT’s, and notched their first two picks of the year last week against East Carolina, with Sharrod Golightly and T.J. Gurley each getting into the action. Here are the returning players’ interception numbers:

THE FRISCO KID: Elliott Fry walked on to the Gamecock squad last summer and earned the starting placekicking chores. The Frisco, Texas product went 15-for-18 in field goal attempts and was successful on 54-of-55 extra point attempts for a team-leading 99 points, earning Freshman All-SEC accolades. His 99 points were the fourth-highest single-season total in school history. He missed his only field goal attempt in the opener against A&M, but that came from 54 yards out. He rebounded against East Carolina, going 4-for-4 in field goals, matching his career-best performance, and accounting for 15 points.

HULL OF A PUNTER: Senior Tyler Hull handles the punting chores for Carolina for a third-straight season. He has averaged 39.0 yards on 105 punts throughout his career. He is off to a better start this season, punting four times for a 44.0-yard average in the opener against Texas A&M and booming a 53-yarder in his only opportunity versus East Carolina. He currently ranks third in the SEC in punting average at 45.8 yards per punt.

UP NEXT: Carolina will be on the road for the first time in 2014 next week when they travel to Nashville, Tenn. to face the Vanderbilt Commodores in another SEC Eastern Division matchup. The Gamecocks have won 19 of the 23 previous meetings with Vandy and own a 10-2 record when the game has been played in Nashville. South Carolina has won each of the last five meetings in the series, while head coach Steve Spurrier is 19-2 all-time against the `Dores.