Gamecocks Host Arkansas Saturday at 4 pm
Oct. 6, 2017
YOU ARE LOOKING LIVE: It’s Parents Weekend on the University of South Carolina campus as the Gamecocks (3-2, 1-2 SEC) host the Arkansas Razorbacks (2-2, 0-1 SEC) at Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday, October 7. This SEC cross-divisional matchup has a scheduled kick time of 4 pm ET and will be televised on SEC Network.
FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE: Dave Neal and Matt Stinchcomb will call the game for SEC Network with Dawn Davenport reporting from the sidelines.
125 YEARS IN THE MAKING: It’s been 125 years since the University of South Carolina laced it up for a December 24, 1892 meeting in Charleston against Furman, a 44-0 setback. 2017 marks the 124th season of intercollegiate football at South Carolina. It is the 111th-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 595-571-44, a .510 winning percentage.
SEC, SEC: The Gamecocks are in their 26th year in the Southeastern Conference. South Carolina and Arkansas joined the league prior to the 1992 campaign. The Gamecocks earned their lone SEC Eastern Division title in 2010. The Gamecocks are 86-116-1 (.426) all-time in SEC regular-season play, but are 31-28 (.525) in conference action since the start of the 2010 season.
CAROLINA VS. ARKANSAS: This is the 23rd meeting between two former “permanent” cross-divisional rivals in a series that dates back to 1992 when both schools joined the Southeastern Conference, but the first contest between the two schools since the 2013 season. The teams met every year from 1992-2013, with Arkansas holding a 13-9 advantage in the all-time series. South Carolina has won six of the 11 previous tilts in Columbia, while the Razorbacks hold an 8-3 advantage when the games have been played in their home state (5-2 in Fayetteville and 3-1 in Little Rock). The Gamecocks have won each of the last two contests, posting a 38-20 victory in Columbia in 2012, then routing the Hogs by a 52-7 count in Fayetteville in 2013.
ONE MORE AND IT’S A STREAK: The Gamecocks have won each of the last two meetings over Arkansas, matching their longest winning streak in the series. They also won back-to-back games in 1996 and ’97, and again from 2004 to 2005.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: The No. 14/12 Gamecocks rolled up an easy 52-7 win over Arkansas in Fayetteville on October 12, 2013. The Hogs scored first, but Carolina dominated the rest of the way to run its record to 5-1 en route to an 11-2 campaign and a final ranking of No. 4 in the nation, the best in school history. The Gamecock offense held the ball for 43:25 of the contest, rolling up 537 yards on 89 plays, compared to the Razorbacks’ 248 yards on 37 plays. Connor Shaw threw for three touchdowns and 219 yards and added a rushing TD. Mike Davis ran for 128 yards and a score, while Bruce Ellington caught six passes for 96 yards and two TDs. The seven points scored by the Razorbacks were the fewest they had tallied in the series since scoring seven points in the 2000 contest.
THE LAST TIME THEY CALLED THE HOGS IN COLUMBIA: 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 win snapped Carolina’s three-game losing streak to the Hogs.
LIGHTING UP THE SCOREBOARD: The winning team in this series has tallied at least 33 points in each of the last seven contests between the two schools. The Gamecocks put up a combined total of 90 points in their last two games against Arkansas, both resulting in wins.
MUSCHAMP VS. THE HOGS: South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp is 1-0 against the Razorbacks, winning by a 30-10 count in Gainesville, Fla., as the head coach of the Florida Gators on October 5, 2013.
FAMILY TIES: Arkansas inside linebackers coach Vernon Hargreaves is the father of Carina Hargreaves, who is in her second year at South Carolina and holds the title of Coordinator – Defensive Operations.
ABOUT LAST WEEK: The Gamecocks went into College Station and opened up a 17-7 lead against Texas A&M before the homestanding Aggies rallied for 17 points in the game’s final 16 minutes to pull out a 24-17 come-from-behind victory. Jake Bentley completed 17-of-30 passes for 256 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, but was sacked seven times. Ty’Son Williams led the Carolina ground game with 14 carries for 73 yards. Kellen Mond passed for 159 yards and rushed for 95 more to lead the Aggie comeback, as Texas A&M outgained the Gamecocks 396 to 279, while running 20 more plays (76-56) in the contest.
EXPLOSIVE BUT NOT CONSISTENT: The Gamecocks logged a season high in explosive plays (20+ yards passing or 15+ yards rushing) at Texas A&M, but weren’t able to manufacture consistent offense throughout the game. Carolina tallied seven explosive plays (6 passing/1 rushing) at A&M. They had totaled just 17 explosives (13 passing/4 rushing) through the first four games.
ORTRE FINDS THE END ZONE: True freshman wide receiver OrTre Smith has caught a touchdown pass in each of the last three contests. Three of his six receptions this season have gone for scores. His first career reception was a 9-yard TD pass late in the game against Kentucky, then he caught a 28-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter against LA Tech before hauling in a 13-yard scoring strike at A&M in the third quarter.
STEPPIN’ UP IN DEEBO’S STEAD: Junior tight end Hayden Hurst and true freshman slot receiver Shi Smith each turned in their best receiving game of the season at Texas A&M. Hurst hauled in six passes for 76 yards, while Smith caught three for 86, including a 45-yard touchdown strike.
JAM ON A ROLL: True freshman Jamyest Williams had his most productive day as a Gamecock in the loss at A&M. The nickel in the Gamecock defense logged a career-best 10 tackles, including nine solo stops and 2.0 tackles for loss. He also was credited with a quarterback hurry.
EIGHT SHOULD BE ENOUGH: The Carolina defense forced eight Texas A&M punts last Saturday. Gamecock opponents had punted just 14 times through the season’s first four games, an average of 3.5 punts per game. The eight punts matched the most by a Gamecock defense under Will Muschamp. Vanderbilt was also forced to punt eight times in the 2016 season opener.
MAKESHIFT LINE: The Gamecocks played most of the Texas A&M game with three Opening Day starters missing from the offensive line. Junior right tackle Zack Bailey has missed the last two contests after suffering an ankle injury against Kentucky. Senior right guard Cory Helms injured his ankle against Louisiana Tech and did not make the trip to Texas A&M. Junior tackle Malik Young went out early in the A&M game with a leg injury. Redshirt freshman Sadarius Hutcherson made his first career start at Texas A&M, while senior D.J. Park was forced into significant playing time for the first time this season as well. The Gamecocks have used four different offensive line combinations in their first five games and, depending on Young’s availability this week, may be on their third starting right tackle this season.
MISSING IN ACTION: After having 19 of the 22 starters answer the bell in each of the first three games, the injury bug has struck Carolina. In addition to the issues on the offensive line, wide receiver/kick returner Deebo Samuel is out indefinitely with a fractured leg, while Buck Bryson Allen-Williams (shoulder) and reserve tight end Kyle Markway (ribs) will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery.
BETTER THAN AVERAGE: The Gamecock defense has held up this season, holding all five opponents to fewer points than their season average, with four of the five being held at least 10 points below their season mark.
CLOSING IN ON A GRAND: The Gamecocks have two players who are closing in on 1,000 career receiving yards. Junior tight end Hayden Hurst has logged 73 catches for 943 yards, while sophomore wide receiver Bryan Edwards has caught 69 passes for 927 yards.
RAISE THE FLAG: The Gamecocks are one of the least penalized teams in college football. Carolina has been flagged for just 20 penalties this season, an average of 4.0 per game, which ranks first in the SEC and eighth in the country. Their penalties have totaled 144 yards or just 28.8 yards per contest, first in the SEC and third in the nation, behind only Louisiana Tech (26.4) and Georgia State (27.0).
MY QUARTERBACK IS A BENTLEY: Sophomore quarterback Jake Bentley is the key to the Gamecock attack. The 6-3, 220-pounder is hitting on 62.4 percent of his passes this season (98-for-157) for 1,257 yards with nine touchdowns and four interceptions. He completed a career-best 16-consecutive passes earlier this season against Kentucky, four shy of the school record of 20, set by Connor Shaw. He ranks third in the SEC in both passing yards per game (251.4) and in total offense (250.4), while his nine TD passes ranks fourth. Bentley, who is 7-5 in 12 career starts, has thrown for over 300 yards twice in his career. He set the school record for bowl games and Birmingham Bowl records for passes completed (32), yards passing (390) and total offense (381) while throwing three TD passes in the final game of the 2016 season against USF.
FAMILY AFFAIR: Quarterback Jake Bentley comes from a football family. His father, Bobby, is the Gamecocks’ running backs coach and previously was a highly-successful coach at Byrnes (S.C.) High and at Presbyterian College. Jake’s step-brother, Chas Dodd (Rutgers), and brother, Shuler Bentley (Old Dominion/Murray State), both have played quarterback in college. Chas is on the Carolina staff as a GA in the weight room.
EXPERIENCE NOT NECESSARY: Despite getting seven starts last season from Jake Bentley, the Gamecocks entered the 2017 season as having one of the country’s least experienced unit of signal-callers. The Carolina quarterbacks combined to appear in just eight career games entering the season, seven by Bentley and one by Michael Scarnecchia. The eight appearances ranked in a tie for ninth with Minnesota for fewest quarterback appearances at the start of the season. Despite his limited play, Bentley was named Co-MVP of the team as selected by his teammates, sharing honors with Deebo Samuel.
BAND ON THE RUN: The Gamecocks have a trio of sophomore running backs who are sharing the load this season. Rico Dowdle (5-11, 220) was the top returning ground-gainer with 764 yards and six touchdowns scored as a true freshman last fall. Dowdle owns three 100-yard rushing games, including a career-best 226-yard performance against Western Carolina. He became the first true freshman to lead the Gamecocks in rushing since Marcus Lattimore in 2010. He has 126 yards on 45 carries while making three starts and has led the team in rushing twice this season. A.J. Turner (5-10, 184) logged 497 yards and three scores on 116 carries last season. Included was a career-best 113-yard effort against Texas A&M in 2016. He has rushed just 15 times for 40 yards this season. Ty’Son Williams (6-0, 215) became eligible this fall after transferring from North Carolina. Despite not having a carry in two of the five games, he leads the team with 246 yards gained on just 41 rushes, a 6.0-yard average. He turned in the best performance from a running back so far in 2017 when he carried 13 times for 95 yards, including a 35-yard burst, in the win over Louisiana Tech.
THE PRODIGAL (TY’)SON: After spending the 2015 season at North Carolina, then sitting out 2016 as a transfer, redshirt sophomore running back Ty’Son Williams, from Sumter, S.C., has led the team in rushing in three games this season. He did not get a carry against NC State in the opener, but came off the bench at Mizzou to lead the team with 14 rushes for 78 yards in the win. Then, after not getting a carry against Kentucky, he made his first collegiate start against Louisiana Tech and responded with 95 yards on 13 carries, a 7.3-yard average, including a 35-yard touchdown burst in the fourth quarter, the longest by a Gamecock this season. He logged 14 carries for 73 yards, including a 34-yard burst, at Texas A&M. After five games, he is the team’s leading rusher with 246 yards on 41 carries, a 6.0-yard average.
MISSING DEEBO: Deebo Samuel did it all for the Gamecocks through the season’s first three games before suffering a broken bone in his leg against Kentucky. In the opener against NC State, he returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a score, and caught five passes for 83 yards including a pair of scores, finishing the day with 185 all-purpose yards. At Missouri, he returned another kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, scored on a 25-yard rush and caught five passes for 45 yards, accumulating 167 all-purpose yards. He hauled in five passes for 122 yards, including a 68-yard scoring strike on the game’s first play from scrimmage against Kentucky before suffering the injury.
FINDING DEEBO AT THE TOP: Deebo Samuel leads the Gamecocks in scoring (36 points), receptions per game (5.0), receiving yards per game (83.3) and all-purpose yards (158.0).
GOING THE DISTANCE TIMES TWO: Deebo Samuel took a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown in each of the season’s first two games. Against NC State, he became the first player in school history to open the season with a kickoff return for a score, earning SEC Special Teams Player of the Week honors. Against Missouri, his 97-yard return changed the momentum of the game after the Tigers had taken a 10-0 lead, and earned him SEC Special Teams Player of the Week honors for a second-straight week. Samuel has tied the school record for kickoff returns for a touchdown in a season, matching King Dixon (1957) and Boo Williams (1997). Samuel and Dixon are the only players to have kickoff returns for scores in back-to-back games. Samuel owns the school record for career kickoff returns for touchdowns with three, as he also took one to the house from 100-yards out last year against Western Carolina. The Gamecocks have had four kickoff returns for scores in their last 24 games after not having a kickoff return for a TD between 2002 to 2015.
MOVIN’ ON UP: Bryan Edwards played an excellent second fiddle to Deebo Samuel, but has now moved into the first chair in Samuel’s absence. Edwards responded with a six-catch, career-best 122-yard receiving performance against LA Tech in the first game playing without Deebo on the opposite side, and came back with a four-catch, 68-yard performance at Texas A&M. Edwards has caught at least four passes in each game this season, totaling 25 catches for 337 yards. He ranks second in the SEC in receptions per game (5.0) and is seventh in receiving yards per game (67.4). The 6-3, 215-pounder from Conway, S.C., has 69 career receptions for 927 yards in his first 17 games. Edwards had the second-best true freshman season for a Gamecock wide receiver in 2016 behind only Alshon Jeffery’s 2009 campaign.
HE MAY BE SHI, BUT HE’S NOT AFRAID: Shi Smith has also stepped up in the absence of Deebo Samuel. The true freshman had his best game as a Gamecock at Texas A&M, catching three passes for a team-high 86 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown pass for his first career score. For the season, Shi has hauled in a dozen passes for 170 yards and one touchdown.
FROM HURST TO FIRST?: Hayden Hurst used a six-catch, 76-yard effort at Texas A&M to move up on the all-time Carolina charts for a tight end. He ranks tied for second on Carolina’s all-time list in career receptions by a tight end (73) and ranks fifth in career yards receiving by a tight end (943). He needs just six catches to become the school’s all-time leader in career receptions by a tight end.
DIAMONDS AREN’T FOREVER: Hayden Hurst played professional baseball in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ organization after being selected in the 17th round of the 2012 draft. Now a 6-5, 253-pound junior, the 24-year-old Hurst turned in the school’s best single-season receiving numbers for a tight end in 2016. His 48 receptions and 616 receiving yards topped the previous marks of 38 catches, set by Doug Hamrick in 1970, and 576 yards, set by Danny Smith in 1987. The former walk-on also served as the Gamecocks’ punt returner against Georgia, becoming the biggest punt returner in Division I football in recent memory. He also was selected a permanent team captain in 2016, becoming the first sophomore in school history to earn that distinction.
GETTING IN THE SACK: The Gamecocks have recorded eight sacks this season, with four coming in the season opening win over NC State. Carolina recorded 21 sacks a year ago, with Darius English logging nine of those.
TACKLING MACHINE: Sophomore T.J. Brunson is the Gamecocks’ top tackler and ranks tied for second in the SEC through five games with 46 stops, or 9.2 tackles per game. Brunson made his first start as a Gamecock memorable. The 6-1, 230-pound linebacker from Columbia, S.C. posted a game- and career-high 16 tackles in the win over NC State. It was the most tackles in a game for a Gamecock since Antonio Allen logged 16 stops against ECU on Sept. 3, 2011, a game that was also played in Charlotte. He followed that up with a six-tackle performance at Missouri and added a game-high 12 tackles vs. Kentucky and eight more stops vs. Louisiana Tech before logging a season-low four tackles at Texas A&M. Brunson logged just 12 tackles during the entire 2016 season.
SKAI RETURNS: Skai Moore is back after missing the entire 2016 season following surgery to address a herniated disk in his neck. The 6-2, 221-pound linebacker from Cooper City, Fla., was the Gamecocks’ leading tackler in 2015 with 111 stops, tying for third in the SEC with 9.2 tackles per game. He also led the team with 6.5 tackles for loss and with four pass interceptions, tying for fourth in the SEC. Moore became the first Gamecock to reach the century mark in tackles since 2006, while his 111 tackles was the second-highest total recorded by a Carolina player in the last 25 years. He led the team in tackles for a third-consecutive season, becoming the first player to do so since 1992-94. He has logged at least six tackles in all five games this season and ranks second on the squad and tied for eighth in the SEC with an average of 8.0 tackles per game. With 176 unassisted tackles, he ranks tied for sixth in Carolina history.
MOORE FROM SKAI: Skai Moore can become the first player in school history to lead the team in tackles in four seasons. That accomplishment is rare across the country. He currently trails T.J. Brunson by six tackles for the 2017 team lead.
A DANDY DOZEN: Skai Moore intercepted a pass against Kentucky. It was his 12th career interception, which ranks tied for second with Dick Harris on the all-time Carolina list, just two behind Bo Davies’ school record of 14 interceptions.
CHARLESTON REWARDED: Redshirt sophomore Javon Charleston was rewarded with a scholarship just before the start of fall classes. Charleston, a 6-0, 189-pounder from Gurnee, Ill., is a cousin to former Gamecock great Marcus Lattimore. He came to Carolina as a wide receiver but was moved to safety in the spring. He played in every game in 2016, primarily on special teams.
JUST FOR KICKS: The Gamecocks have struggled to replace the school’s all-time leading scorer in placekicker Elliott Fry. Fry tallied 359 points over the past four seasons. The duo of redshirt freshman Alexander Woznick and true freshman Parker White have combined to connect on just 3-of-10 field goal attempts. Woznick is 9-of-10 on extra point attempts and 1-of-3 on field goals, while White, who has supplanted Woznick as the regular placekicker and also handles the kickoffs, is 5-for-5 on PATs and 2-for-7 in the field goal department. His first made field goal was a 31-yard game-winner in the final seconds against Louisiana Tech.
ALL THE WHITE STUFF: Redshirt freshman Parker White was 0-for-4 in the field goal department this season, including misses from 34- and 46-yards out earlier in the game, when he stepped on the field with just seconds remaining and the Gamecocks trailing Louisiana Tech 16-14. Undeterred, the walk-on from Mount Pleasant, S.C. calmly booted a game-winning 31-yard field goal for his first career made field goal.
WHO ARE THESE GUYS?: Whether Alexander Woznick or Parker White handles the placekicking job, he is working with an entirely new unit, as Ben Asbury is the new deep snapper, replacing four-year starter Drew Williams, and backup quarterback Danny Gordon is the holder, replacing Sean Kelly.
THIS IS CHARLTON YOUR PUNTER: Redshirt sophomore Joseph Charlton, who came to Carolina on a scholarship from A.C. Flora High School in Columbia, is the Gamecocks’ punter. Charlton has averaged 43.7 yards (sixth in the SEC) over his 23 punts with eight measuring over 50 yards, including a career-long 73-yarder at Missouri, the longest punt by a Gamecock since Marty Simpson had a 79-yard punt in 1992.
BREAKDOWN DEAD AHEAD: The breakdown of the Gamecocks’ 110-man roster features 12 seniors, 21 juniors, 30 sophomores, 16 redshirt freshmen and 31 true freshmen.
SENIOR CITIZENS: Carolina lists 12 seniors on its 110-man roster. Ten are listed as starters: Alan Knott and Cory Helms on offense, and Dante Sawyer, Taylor Stallworth, Ulric Jones, Bryson Allen-Williams, Skai Moore, JaMarcus King, D.J. Smith and Chris Lammons on defense. D.J. Park is on the second team. Demetrius Smalls add depth.
FRESH FISH: South Carolina has played eight true freshmen this season. Those newcomers who have seen action for the first time in Division I football are Sherrod Greene, Brad Johnson, OrTre Smith, Shi Smith, Damani Staley, Aaron Sterling, Chad Terrell and Jamyest Williams. OrTre Smith, Shi Smith and Williams have each made a start.
FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME: Nine Gamecocks have made their first career start this season. Linebacker T.J. Brunson and defensive end D.J. Wonnum each made his first career start in the win over NC State. Brunson responded with a game-high 16 tackles, while Wonnum logged a game-high 3.0 tackles for loss. Wide receiver Shi Smith and defensive back Jamyest Williams became the first true freshmen to get a start this season when they both got the nod at Missouri. Left tackle Dennis Daley made his first start against Kentucky. True freshman wide receiver OrTre Smith, sophomore running back transfer Ty’Son Williams and JUCO defensive tackle transfer Javon Kinlaw, all made their first starts against Louisiana Tech. Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Sadarius Hutcherson is the latest to make his first career start, getting the nod at left guard at Texas A&M.
WHO DOES THAT? The Gamecocks are one of only three Power Five schools to have two games away from their campus before their 2017 home opener. Carolina opened with a neutral site game against NC State in Charlotte before traveling to Missouri. Louisville opened with a neutral site game against Purdue in Indianapolis, then traveled to North Carolina. Stanford has the toughest go of it. They opened in Sydney, Australia against Rice, then were on the road for their next two games, at Southern Cal and San Diego State.
WINNER, WINNER: The Gamecocks face a dozen opponents that combined to win 61.6 percent of its games last season, going 98-61 overall. That ranks as the fourth-highest opponent winning percentage among FBS teams, behind UMass, LSU and East Carolina. The opponents have not disappointed this season, logging a .732 winning percentage (41-15).
TOTING THE SHEEPSKIN: The Gamecocks have four student-athletes who have earned their undergraduate degree. The quartet includes Ulric Jones (interdisciplinary studies), Skai Moore (interdisciplinary studies), D.J. Park (criminal justice) and Dante Sawyer (interdisciplinary studies).
WORKING OVERTIME: The Gamecocks are 2-3 all-time in games decided in overtime. They won their first overtime game at Missouri, 27-24, in two overtimes on Oct. 26, 2013 in Columbia, Mo., and won in “The Swamp” over Florida by a 23-20 count in 2014. All three overtime losses have come against Tennessee by a field goal: a 23-20 setback on Sept. 27, 2003 in Knoxville, and a 27-24 loss in Knoxville on Oct. 27, 2007 and a 45-42 loss in Columbia on Nov. 1, 2014.
THEY PAY TO SEE THEM PLAY: South Carolina ranked 17th in the nation in home attendance in 2016, with an average home crowd of 76,920, just shy of the 80,250 capacity. Williams-Brice Stadium boasted a sell-out crowd of 82,493 in the 2017 home opener vs. Kentucky. Carolina is averaging 77,157 through two home games, 16th in the nation.
BIG ROAD CROWDS: South Carolina play in three of the nation’s 10-largest college football stadiums this fall, traveling to Texas A&M’s Kyle Field in College Station (3rd-102,733), Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium in Knoxville (4th-102,455) and Georgia’s Sanford Stadium in Athens (9th-92,746).
UP NEXT: The Gamecocks will be back on the road in the SEC next week when they travel to Knoxville to take on the Tennessee Volunteers. The Vols lead the all-time series by a 25-8-2 count including a 16-2 advantage when the teams have played at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville. However, Carolina has won four of the last seven meetings between the two SEC Eastern Division rivals, including a 24-21 win in Columbia last season.