Oct. 3, 2014
|DATE:||Saturday, October 4|
|KICKOFF:||7:30 p.m. ET|
|SERIES:||South Carolina leads 17-7-1|
|RADIO:||Flagship – 107.5 FM “The Game” & the IMG Network|
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Gamecocks (3-2, 2-2 SEC) travel to Lexington, Ky, for another SEC Eastern Division matchup this week when they face the Kentucky Wildcats (3-1, 1-1 SEC) at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 4. The 7:30 p.m. ET game will be televised nationally on the SEC Network with Tom Hart and Matt Stinchcomb in the booth and Heather Mitts on the sidelines.
A South Carolina win over Kentucky would…
Be No. 21 for head coach Steve Spurrier against the Wildcats. He is currently 20-1 all-time against Kentucky, with that lone loss coming in the 2010 season. Coach Spurrier is the only current FBS coach to log 20 wins against one school. He also has 20 wins versus Vanderbilt (20-2).
Be the Gamecocks’ 14th win in the last 15 meetings with Kentucky.
Give the Gamecocks a 3-1 record against SEC Eastern Division opponents this season. The Gamecocks have won 20 of their last 25 games against SEC Eastern Division foes.
Keep the Gamecocks hopes alive to win the SEC Eastern Division title. The Gamecocks are no longer in control of their own destiny following the loss to Missouri last week, but every other team in contention has at least six SEC games remaining.
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 579-549-44. The Gamecocks were nine games under .500 until head coach Steve Spurrier took the reins in 2005, but are 39 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 43-33 (.566) in conference play since Coach Spurrier took the reins, including a 20-8 (.714) mark since 2011.
ANOTHER CONFERENCE GAME: The Gamecocks are playing their fifth SEC game in the season’s first six weeks. Louisville (3) and Vanderbilt (3) are the only other FBS schools to play more than two conference games thus far.
CAROLINA VS. KENTUCKY: This is the 26th game in a series that dates back to 1937 between the Gamecocks and Wildcats. Carolina leads the all-time series 17-7-1, including a 9-4 advantage in Lexington and an 8-3-1 mark in Columbia. South Carolina has won each of the last three meetings, including a 35-28 win in Columbia last season and a 38-17 decision the last time they were in Lexington. Kentucky’s last win was by a 31-28 count in Lexington in 2010, snapping South Carolina’s 10-game winning streak in the series. The teams played just three times (1937, 1978 and 1981) before Carolina joined the SEC for the 1992 season. Since then, they have met every year. Since joining the league, the Gamecocks own a 16-6 record against UK, including wins in 13 of the 14 meetings in this century.
SPURRIER VS. KENTUCKY: South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier owns a 20-1 all-time record against Kentucky, including an 8-1 mark as head coach at South Carolina. The 20 wins matches his mark against Vanderbilt (20-2) as his most wins against any school. He also has double-digit wins against Georgia (16-6), Tennessee (14-9), LSU (11-4), Auburn (10-8) and South Carolina (10-1). Coach Spurrier’s offenses have scored 30+ points in 16 of 21 games against Kentucky, including 10 games of 40+ points.
21-GUN SALUTE: Head coach Steve Spurrier is looking for his 21st career victory against Kentucky. He is currently 20-1 all-time against the Wildcats. No current Division I coach has 21 wins against any one school. In fact, Coach Spurrier is the only coach with 20 wins against a school, holding that number against both Kentucky and Vanderbilt. Here is the list of current head coaches with the most wins against one school:
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: The 13th-ranked Gamecocks had things well in hand for most of the contest, as they opened up a 27-7 lead over Kentucky heading into the final stanza, but the Wildcats made it interesting with 21 fourth-quarter points before falling by a 35-28 count in Columbia on Oct. 5, 2013. Mike Davis rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback Connor Shaw added 312 yards of total offense, including 262 through the air on 17-of-20 passing. Damiere Byrd had one of the top days of his career, catching five passes for 94 yards, including a 62-yard TD catch on the first drive of the game.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET IN LEXINGTON Sixth-ranked South Carolina erased a 10-point halftime deficit, scoring 31 second-half points, on its way to a 38-17 win over Kentucky on Sept. 29, 2012 in Lexington. Marcus Lattimore carried 23 times for 120 yards in the win, while Connor Shaw completed 15-of-18 passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns and added 76 yards on the ground on 19 carries. After allowing 17 points and 173 yards in the first half, the Carolina defense pitched a shutout in the second half, limiting Kentucky to just 70 yards over the final 30 minutes.
THE CATS’ MEOW: Here’s how some of the Gamecocks have fared against Kentucky:
PASSING: Thompson: 3-6-0-30.
RUSHING: Davis: 23-115, 2 TD; Wilds 5-45; Cooper 2-26
RECEIVING: Byrd 8-146, 2 TD; Anderson 4-101; Jones 4-56, 1 TD; Davis 3-54; Adams 2-50; Cooper 1-12.
ROAD WARRIORS: Carolina survived its first road test of the 2014 campaign with a 48-34 win at Vanderbilt two weeks ago. The Gamecocks are 13-5 in their last 18 true road contests. Four of the five road losses in that stretch came to nationally-ranked opponents: at No. 8 Arkansas in 2011, at No. 9 LSU and No. 3 Florida in 2012 and at No. 11 Georgia in 2013, before losing to unranked Tennessee in 2013.
BEATING THE EAST: The Gamecocks are 2-1 against SEC Eastern Division opponents in 2014. They are 20-5 against the SEC East in this decade. In each of the last three seasons, Carolina has defeated the SEC Eastern Division champion (Georgia in 2011 and `12 and Missouri in 2013). Carolina had never won more than three games in the division prior to Coach Spurrier’s arrival, but have done it five times since 2005.
THE LAST TIME OUT: No. 13/15 South Carolina held a 20-7 lead midway through the fourth quarter, but Missouri rallied with two touchdowns in the final 6:49 to pull out a 21-20 upset win in Columbia, S.C. last Saturday. Mike Davis rushed for 104 yards, the ninth 100-yard rushing game of his career, and scored a touchdown. Dylan Thompson completed 21-of-37 passes for 219 yards and a score. The defense played its best game of the season, forcing 10 consecutive punts, including six three-and-outs, before allowing touchdowns on Missouri’s final two drives of the game. The Tigers logged just 280 yards of offense, but 119 came on the final two drives.
LEFTOVERS FROM MIZZOU: Dylan Thompson became the 13th player in school history to pass for 3,000 yards in a career. Mike Davis logged his ninth career 100-yard rushing game. Elliott Fry connected on both of his field goal attempts and has been successful on each of his last nine attempt.
IF IN DOUBT, PUNT: The Gamecocks forced Missouri to punt 10 times last Saturday. Carolina had forced its first four opponents to just eight punts combined. The last time South Carolina forced a team to punt 10 times in a game was against Virginia in a 31-7 win on Sept. 6, 2003.
STEPPING UP: Fifth-year senior Dylan Thompson is 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 6-2 as a starter in his career. He has thrown for over 300 yards three times and has thrown at least three touchdowns in 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. He was 21-for-30 with three TDs against Georgia. He was 22-for-34 for 237 yards with three more scores at Vanderbilt. After five weeks, he ranks fifth in the SEC averaging 271.8 yards passing per game and is sixth with 266.0 yards of total offense per game. He has thrown 12 touchdowns and three interceptions while completing 60.9 percent of his passes. For his career, he has completed 57.7 percent of his passes (T5th in school history) for 3,186 yards with 26 touchdowns and eight INTs. He became the 13th player in South Carolina history to throw for 3,000 yards in a career.
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 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 has had a pair of 100-yard rushing games this season, posting an 18-carry, 101-yard, 2 TD effort against East Carolina and carrying 22 times for 104 yards and a score against Missouri. For the season, he has rushed 80 times for 368 yards and three scores. In his third season at Carolina, he ranks 19th in school history with 1,826 rushing yards and owns nine 100-yard rushing games. 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.
AGAIN AND AGAIN: Only eight players in South Carolina history have nine or more games of 100-yard rushing in their career. That list now includes Mike Davis.
RUNNING WILDS: 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 been very effective. After five games, he has logged 248 yards on 48 attempts, an average of 5.2 yards per carry. For his career, he has 955 yards and seven touchdowns on 198 rushes. He needs just 45 rushing yards to become the 42nd player in school history to reach 1,000 yards in his career. 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. He had a 2014 season-high 93 yards rushing in the win over Georgia.
NOTHING CATCHY ABOUT THIS: The Gamecocks feature four wide receivers that receive the bulk of the action:
Sophomore Pharoh Cooper (5-11, 201) was an All-SEC Freshman selection last season as both an all-purpose back and return specialist. He is the Gamecocks’ top pass catcher through five games with 24 receptions (4.8/game, 8th in the SEC). 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 had a breakout game at Vanderbilt, catching 10 passes for 114 yards, both career highs. He has also seen some action at the “Wildcat” position, rushing nine times for 96 yards, an average of 10.7 yards per carry. He has two carries in his career of 70 yards or more.
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 game 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 is second on the squad with 22 catches but leads the team with 331 receiving yards with three touchdowns. His 4.4 catches per game ranks 10th in the SEC.
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 receiving corps. 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 East Carolina. He is third on the squad with 15 catches for 180 yards and two scores.
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, is a semifinalist for the Campbell Trophy and was a captain on the Gamecocks’ track & field squad. He has had just four catches this year, but two have gone for touchdowns and he averages 28.5 yards per catch.
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 15.9 yards per catch with nine 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. He had a big day against Georgia with five catches for 67 yards and a score. 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. He is used primarily as a blocking 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 43 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 27 starts and was a second-team preseason All-SEC pick by both the media and coaches. He was the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week for his performance against Georgia. Redshirt junior right tackle Brandon Shell (6-6, 333) has made 28 career starts and was a preseason third-team All-SEC selection by the league’s 14 coaches.
CANN DO: Senior left guard A.J. Cann made his 43rd career start against Missouri. He is one of only 11 players in school history to make 40 or more starts for the Garnet & Black.
No. Player Starts 1. T.J. Johnson (2009-12) 53
2. Cliff Matthews (2007-10) 47
3. Travelle Wharton (2000-03) 45
Ladi Ajiboye (2007-10) 45
Devin Taylor (2009-12) 45
T6. Todd Ellis (1986-89) 43
A.J. Cann (2011-14) 43
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 has led the team in tackles twice this season with seven stops against East Carolina and a career-best 10 vs. Georgia.
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, and has spent the bulk of the 2014 season at cornerback. He has started 29 times in his career. He is tied for fourth on the team with 16 tackles, including 14 solo stops. He turned the Vandy game around with his 53-yard interception return for a touchdown.
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 and hasn’t missed since. He rebounded against East Carolina, going 4-for-4 in field goals, matching his career-best performance, and accounting for 15 points while earning SEC Special Teams Player of the Week honors. He hit again from 32-yards out against Georgia, and was 2-for-2 at Vanderbilt and versus Missouri, giving him a streak of nine in a row. He leads the SEC with nine field goals and leads the league and is 11th in the country with a 90 percent field goal accuracy. He is fourth in the league in points scored by kicking, averaging 9.4 points per game.
HULL OF A PUNTER: Senior Tyler Hull handles the punting chores for Carolina for a third-straight season. He averaged 39.4 yards as a sophomore and 37.8 yards as a junior. He is having his best season, punting 19 times for a 43.3-yard average, which ranks seventh in the SEC.
UP NEXT: South Carolina enjoys an off week next week, the first of two bye weeks during the season (the other comes on November 8). Their next action will be their annual non-conference tilt with an in-state FCS opponent. This year it is the Furman Paladins that will visit Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday, October 18. South Carolina leads the all-time series 27-20-1, including a 14-8-1 mark at home. The Gamecocks have won 12 of the last 13 meetings between the two schools, including a 38-19 win in 2010, the last time the teams got together.