Gamecocks and Vols Ready to Battle Under the Lights
7:30 Kick Saturday, Oct. 27 at Williams-Brice Stadium
YOU ARE LOOKING LIVE: It’s Homecoming Weekend as the South Carolina Gamecocks (3-3, 2-3 SEC) host the Tennessee Volunteers (3-4, 1-3 SEC) in the final game of a three-game homestand for the Gamecocks. Game time is set for 7:30 pm ET on Saturday, Oct. 27, and the contest will be televised on SEC Network. It will mark South Carolina’s first home night game of the season.
TELEVISION COVERAGE: For the sixth time in seven games this season, SEC Network has the telecast for this week’s South Carolina contest. Tom Hart will handle the play-by-play with Jordan Rodgers serving as the analyst. Cole Cubelic will work the sidelines.
A HISTORY LESSON: 2018 marks the 125th season of intercollegiate football at South Carolina. It is the 112th-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 604-576-44.
SEC HISTORY: The South Carolina Gamecocks are in their 27th year in the Southeastern Conference. 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 92-120-1 (.434) all-time in SEC regular-season play, but are 37-32 (.536) in conference action since the start of the 2010 season. With a 5-3 mark and sole possession of second place in the SEC East in 2017, the Gamecocks won five or more conference games for just the eighth time in 26 years since joining the SEC.
CAROLINA VS. TENNESSEE: This is the 37th gridiron meeting between the Gamecocks and Volunteers in a series that dates back to 1903. The teams have met every year since Carolina joined the SEC for the 1992 season, with the Volunteers winning 18 of the 26 meetings as conference rivals. Tennessee leads the all-time series, 25-9-2, including a 9-6-2 mark in Columbia and a 16-3 advantage in Knoxville. The Gamecocks defeated Tennessee just three times in a 105-year period from 1903-2007, but have won six times in the last 10 contests from 2008-2017.
IT FIGURES TO BE CLOSE: Each of the last six contests has been decided by six points or less, with Carolina outscoring the Vols by a 164-160 margin during that six-game stretch.
LET’S KEEP IT TO 60 MINUTES: South Carolina has played six overtime games in its history, logging a 2-4 mark in those contests that needed more than 60 minutes to decide. Tennessee has accounted for three of the Gamecocks’ four overtime losses, all decided by a field goal.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: Parker White connected on all three of his field goal attempts, including a tie-breaking 21-yarder with 5:17 remaining, and South Carolina produced a goal-line stand in the closing seconds of a 15-9 win over Tennessee in Knoxville on Oct. 14, 2017. Both teams struggled on offense all day with the Gamecocks producing 323 yards of offense to just 253 for the Vols. The Carolina defense logged seven sacks while holding Tennessee out of the endzone.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET HERE: South Carolina’s best win of the 2016 campaign was a 24-21 win over No. 18 Tennessee on October 29 in Columbia. The Gamecocks had the advantage in total offense, outgaining the Vols 325-297, but the key to victory was winning the turnover battle, 3-0. JaMarcus King had a pair of interceptions, earning SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
GOOD OLE ROCKY TOP: Will Muschamp owns a perfect 6-0 record against Tennessee as a head coach. He was 4-0 as the head coach at Florida, posting wins by scores of 33-23, 37-20, 31-17 and 10-6. He is 2-0 with the Gamecocks, leading Carolina wins of 24-21 and 15-9 over Tennessee.
IT JUST MEANS MORE: South Carolina’s redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Sadarius Hutcherson hails from Huntingdon, Tenn., located about 300 miles west of Knoxville. True freshman offensive lineman, Maxwell Iyama is from Murfreesboro, about 180 miles west of Knoxville. Gamecock assistant coaches Lance Thompson (2009-11) and Pat Washington (1995-05) logged stints with the Vols. Gamecocks’ assistant strength & conditioning coach Corey Miller played at Tennessee from 2010-13. Tennessee director of strength & conditioning Craig Fitzgerald was on Steve Spurrier’s staff at South Carolina from 2009-11. Former Gamecocks Byron Jerideau and Shaq Wiilson are also on the Vols’ strength staff.
THE LAST TIME OUT: The Gamecocks rallied from a 16-point third-quarter deficit to tie the game, but No. 22/22 Texas A&M answered with two long scoring drives in the final period to escape with a 26-23 win over South Carolina in Columbia on Oct. 13. A&M controlled the time of possession, holding the ball for 42:20, while putting together four scoring drives that each took at least 4:38 off the clock. The Aggies piled up 458 yards of offense, including 353 through the air, while limiting the Gamecocks to 299 yards of offense. The loss was the eighth-straight for Carolina against a ranked team, dating back to a 24-21 win over No. 18 Tennessee on Oct. 29, 2016.
GO FOR TWO: The Gamecocks converted a pair of two-point conversions against Texas A&M with Jake Bentley connecting with Bryan Edwards on both occasions. Research indicates that South Carolina had not converted a pair of two-point conversions in the same game in the last 40 years before doing so against the Aggies.
CHARLTON HONORED: Junior punter Joseph Charlton was selected as the National Punter of the Week by the Ray Guy Award committee for his performance against A&M. Charlton, a 6-5, 188-pounder from Columbia, punted six times for 304 yards, a 50.7-yard average. Three of his six kicks landed inside the 20-yard line and five traveled 50 yards or more, with a long of 61 yards. The Gamecocks averaged 48.2-net yards per punt in the contest.
AGAINST THE ODDS: The Gamecocks dropped a 26-23 decision to the Aggies. It was the first time in five games under head coach Will Muschamp that Carolina lost a game decided by three points or less. Previously, they had defeated Vanderbilt (13-10) and Tennessee (24-21) in 2016, Louisiana Tech (17-16) in 2017, and Missouri (37-35) in 2018. The Gamecocks also lost for just the second time in 17 games under Coach Muschamp when scoring 20 or more points.
BEND BUT DON’T BREAK: The Gamecocks have done a good job of keeping their opponents out of the endzone over the last two games. Missouri (5-for-6) and Texas A&M (4-for-5) combined to hit on 9-of-11 field goal attempts, including 57- and 52-yard attempts. Prior to the Mizzou game, no Carolina opponent had attempted as many as five field goals in a game since Arkansas in 2011. You have to go back to 2007 (Georgia and Clemson) to find the last time two opponents attempted five or more field goals in a game in the same season.
NOT ON MY WATCH: Will Muschamp has had the Volunteers number as a head coach. Not only is he a perfect 6-0 against Tennessee, his defense has limited the Vols’ offense to under 300 yards of total offense five times in six contests:
VOLS Offense vs. Muschamp’s Defense
Rushing —Passing— –Total–
Year Pts Att Yds C-A-I Yds Plays Yds
2011 23 21 -9 26-48-2 288 69 279
2012 20 28 83 22-44-2 257 72 340
2013 17 23 66 14-34-1 154 57 220
2014 6 29 28 26-39-2 205 68 233
2016 21 37 136 12-27-2 161 64 297
2017 9 39 120 11-19-0 133 58 253
TOT 96 177 424 111-211-9 1198 388 1622
AVG 16.0 29.5 70.7 18.5-35.2-1.5 199.7 64.7 270.3
THIRD DOWN IS OUR DOWN: The Gamecocks limited Texas A&M to just 3-of-13 on third-down conversions. For the season, Carolina has held its opponents to 24.7 percent (18-of-73) on third down conversions, the nation’s fourth-best mark. Last season, the Gamecocks struggled getting off the field on third down, allowing conversion on 39.8 percent of their opportunities.
Here are the top 2018 national rankings:
3RD-DOWN CONVERSION PCT.-DEFENSE
RK SCHOOL G CONV. ATT. PCT.
1. Miami (Fla.) 7 20 96 20.8
2. Texas A&M 7 18 79 22.8
3. UAB 7 21 87 24.1
4. South Carolina 6 18 73 24.7
5. Syracuse 7 26 105 24.8
TOUGH SLATE: The Gamecocks have the nation’s second-toughest schedule based on opponents’ record, according to the NCAA. Carolina’s opponents’ cumulative record is 51-22, a .699 winning percentage. Carolina’s previous opponents have a 25-12 mark, while their future opponents own a 26-10 ledger. The calculation only takes into consideration games against opponents from the same division, so non-FBS games would not count in the calculation.
Rk. School Wins Losses Pct.
1. Florida State 55 22 .711
2. South Carolina 51 22 .699
3. Texas A&M 57 25 .695
4. Stanford 53 25 .679
5. UCLA 53 26 .671
HOLD ONTO THAT PIGSKIN: The Gamecocks lost the turnover battle to Texas A&M, 2-0. Carolina is 2-0 when winning the turnover margin this season and 1-3 when losing the turnover battle. For the season, the Gamecocks are minus-5 in turnovers, losing 12 while gaining seven, and are minus-6 in SEC games (12-6). The -0.83 turnover margin per game ranks last in the SEC and 113th in the country. Last season, South Carolina was plus-11 in turnovers, gaining 28 while losing 17. Their 0.85 turnover margin ranked second in the SEC and 13th in the nation.
OUR QB IS A BENTLEY: Junior quarterback Jake Bentley has started five of six games this season, missing the Missouri contest with a knee injury, which snapped a streak of 24-consecutive starts. The 6-4, 224-pounder from Opelika, Ala., owns a 15-10 record as a starting signal-caller. For the season, he is 101-of-167 (60.5 percent) for 1,151 yards with 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He ranks sixth in the SEC in passing yards per game at 230.2 and fifth in total offense at 250.2. On the Carolina career charts, he ranks second in completion percentage, sixth in pass completions, seventh in pass attempts, eighth in passing touchdowns, eighth in total offense and ninth in passing yards.
FOUR SCORES AND FOUR YEARS AGO: Jake Bentley threw four touchdown passes in the season-opening win over Coastal Carolina. He connected on scoring tosses of 8, 24, 22 and 8 yards out to four different receivers. The last Gamecock quarterback to throw four or more TD passes in a game was Dylan Thompson, who threw 5 touchdown passes at Auburn in 2014.
MILESTONE REACHED: Junior Jake Bentley became just the ninth quarterback in school history to throw for more than 5,000 yards in his career and now has passed for 5,365 yards. Only four Gamecocks have eclipsed the 6,000-yard mark – Todd Ellis, Steve Taneyhill, Stephen Garcia and Connor Shaw.
A SCAR IS BORN: Fifth-year senior Michael Scarnecchia made the first start of his career against Missouri in place of an injured Bentley, and made it a memorable one. The 6-3, 216-pounder from Fleming Island, Fla., completed 20-of-35 passes for 249 yards and three touchdowns with no turnovers in the 37-35 win. He connected on touchdown passes of 5, 17 and 8 yards, and led the Gamecocks on a 9-play, 53-yard drive in just over a minute, setting up the game-winning field goal with just two seconds remaining in the contest.
BE LIKE MIKE: Prior to his heroics against Missouri, Michael Scarnecchia had seen limited duty in his career. He entered the season having appeared in just three games, completing his only pass attempt, a 9-yarder, back in 2015. He was 7-of-12 for 89 yards and a touchdown this season heading into the Missouri game. He tossed his first career TD strike in the win over Coastal Carolina, hooking up with Randrecous Davis from 27-yards out. Scarnecchia, who earned a finance degree in May, was recognized as the 2017 Dr. Harris Pastides Outstanding Student-Athlete. He is on record naming Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and Shakespeare as the three people he would most like to have dinner with.
JUNIOR RUSHING QUARTET: The Gamecocks feature a stable of four junior running backs. Carolina is averaging 4.5 yards per rush after averaging just 3.9 yards a year ago.
• Rico Dowdle has started all six games. In the season opener vs. Coastal Carolina, he responded with 105 yards on 15 carries, a 7.0-yard average, with one score, and also caught a 22-yard TD pass, then went for a season-high 112 yards in the win at Vanderbilt, his fifth-career 100-yard rushing game. He has 351 yards, surpassing his 2017 season total. With 1,366 career yards, he ranks 28th in school history.
• A.J. Turner ranks 37th on Carolina’s all-time rushing list with 1,159 yards. Turner is averaging 6.2 yards per carry this season and is also one of the squad’s top special teams performers. He sat out the Texas A&M game while going through the concussion protocol.
• Ty’Son Williams, who spent one year at North Carolina before transferring to South Carolina, had one of his better games as a Gamecock in the opener against Coastal, rushing 11 times for 82 yards and a touchdown. He is second on the squad in rushing with 255 yards and averages 5.5 yards per carry, with a pair of touchdowns. He missed the Kentucky while nursing an ankle injury.
• Mon Denson has been slowed all season with a hamstring injury, playing in just two games. He had his best game of the season at Kentucky, rushing seven times for 32 yards. He is also a solid special teams contributor.
SAMUEL IS KING: One of the most electrifying players in college football is 6-0, 210-pound senior Deebo Samuel. Samuel earned numerous preseason All-America and All-SEC accolades as a wide receiver, kick returner and all-purpose performer. In 2016, Samuel had 1,320 all-purpose yards and became one of just six Power 5 players in the past five years to record a passing, rushing, receiving and kickoff-return touchdown in the same season. He scored six TDs in three games a year ago before suffering a season-ending leg injury. He has scored 19 career touchdowns (9 receiving, 7 rushing and 3 kickoff returns).
DEEBO IN 2018: Deebo Samuel has been the Gamecocks’ top receiver this season, catching 33 passes for 382 yards with four touchdowns. He also has rushed four times for 13 yards and has eighth kickoff returns for 165 yards. His 5.5 receptions per game ranks fourth in the SEC, while his 63.7 yards per contest ranks eighth. He also ranks seventh in kick return average.
SAMUEL REMAINS PERFECT: Do-it-all performer Deebo Samuel tossed a 13-yard scoring strike to Bryan Edwards against Georgia. Samuel’s only other career pass was a 33-yard touchdown to Edwards against Clemson in 2016. His career pass efficiency rating is a gaudy 623.4.
NO SECOND FIDDLE: While Deebo Samuel received much of the preseason accolades, and rightly so, junior Bryan Edwards has better career numbers. Just a junior, Edwards could rank among the top wide receivers in school history before he is through. He posted game-highs with seven catches, 111 receiving yards and two touchdowns against Georgia. It was his third career 100-yard receiving game. He leads the team with five touchdowns and has caught a pass in all 31 games in which he has appeared for the Garnet & Black, tying for fifth on the all-time list. He ranks seventh in the SEC with 4.7 receptions per game and 10th with 58.5 receiving yards per game. He also handles the punt returns and ranks sixth in the SEC with an 8.4-yard average.
HE’S NOT SHY: Shi Smith is the third wideout for the Gamecocks. The sophomore has hauled in 21 passes for 314 yards this season, a team-best 15.0-yard average. he went for 119 yards and a score on five receptions vs. Vanderbilt this season.
REPLACING HAYDEN: The Gamecock offense has four upperclassmen filling the tight end vacancy created when All-SEC performer Hayden Hurst went to the NFL as a first-round draft pick. Seniors K.C. Crosby and Jacob August, and juniors Kyle Markway and Kiel Pollard all have seen extensive action. Crosby has been limited after undergoing surgery on a fractured finger and August sat out the Missouri game with a concussion. Markway, who hails from St. Louis, stepped up with a key 27-yard reception in the game-winning drive against his home-state Tigers.
O-LINE EXPERIENCE: The Gamecocks front unit boasts a wealth of experience with 101 combined starts. Senior left guard Zack Bailey owns the most starts on the team with 32 and has been given some preseason All-SEC recognition. Fifth-year junior Donell Stanley moves to center this season where he is a Rimington Award candidate. He has made 19 career starts. Senior left tackle Dennis Daley, a former junior college transfer, moved into the starting lineup early in the 2017 season and has now made 17-straight starts. Highly-regarded redshirt sophomore right guard Sadarius Hutcherson and senior right tackle Blake Camper, have each made 10 starts. Senior Malik Young, who is listed with the second-team unit, has made 13 career starts.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES: Offensive line coach Eric Wolford has started the same five linemen in each of the season’s first six games. That’s quite a change from last season, when Wolford worked nine different players into the starting front five due to numerous injuries. Two different players started at left tackle, left guard and right guard, and four different players started at right tackle. Only center Alan Knott started every game among the O-linemen.
THE LONG ARM OF KINLAW: Junior defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw is a force in the middle of the line. Down to around 305 pounds after coming in a year ago at about 340, Kinlaw has been credited with 22 tackles,. He ranks first on the team in sacks (2.5) and forced fumbles (2) and second in tackles for loss (5.0), and quarterback hurries (3). He was the SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week for his outstanding performance in the win at Vanderbilt.
B-A-W IS B-A-C-K: After missing much of last season following a season-ending shoulder injury, senior Bryson Allen-Williams is back and better than ever. Listed as the starter at SAM linebacker, Allen-Williams can also put his hand in the dirt and give Carolina a solid rush off the edge. He has recorded 30 tackles, including a team-leading 9.5 tackles for loss (tied for 4th in the SEC), 2.0 sacks and a team-leading four quarterback hurries. He had one of his best efforts against Missouri as he logged six tackles, all solo stops, including a career-high 3.0 tackles for loss and a sack, along with two quarterback hurries. He followed that up against Texas A&M with seven stops including 1.5 tackles for loss. Off the field, he is the Vice Chair of the SEC Football Leadership Council.
WE WONNUM BACK: Junior Buck D.J. Wonnum was selected a team captain a year ago as a sophomore, and is the leader up front. A two-time SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week, Wonnum was voted the Gamecocks’ Most Productive Defensive Player in 2017 after logging 13.0 tackles for loss, including 6.0 sacks. He had three tackles, including a tackle for loss, in the season opener before leaving with an ankle injury. The injury has kept him off the field since that time. He has a chance to return to the lineup for this week’s game against Tennessee. Last season against the Vols, he was named SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week after logging six tackles and 2.0 sacks.
BRUNSON JUST MAKES STOPS: Junior linebacker T.J. Brunson picked up right where he left off from a season ago. Brunson, who was the first player that Coach Muschamp recruited upon his hire, was second on the squad with 88 tackles a year ago. He earned a spot on the AP’s All-Bowl team following his 13-tackle, two-sack performance in the Outback Bowl win over Michigan. He is leading the team with 35 tackles on the season, including 26 solo stops.
FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME: True freshman defensive back Jaycee Horn earned a starting assignment in the season opener. He became just the seventh true freshman to start for the Gamecocks in the season opener since the 2009 season joining Stephon Gilmore (2009), Marcus Lattimore (2010), Jadeveon Clowney (2011), Bryson Allen-Williams (2014), Al Harris Jr. (2014) and Bryan Edwards (2016).
DON’T MESS WITH THE BULL: Freshman Jaycee Horn has been the most productive true freshman for the Gamecocks, and was recognized on the 247Sports midseason true freshman All-America team. Horn has 26 tackles with a team-high five pass breakups. He was named the SEC Freshman of the Week for his efforts in the win over Mizzou. He was credited with four pass break ups in the contest. He also logged three tackles, including a key diving trip, forcing Damari Crockett to step out of bounds on the 11-yard line instead of taking it in for a touchdown. The Tigers ended up not scoring on that drive, which was a key turning point in the game.
FENTON ISLAND: Senior cornerback Rashad Fenton has three of the team’s five interceptions this season, giving him five in his career, one more than Bryson Allen-Williams for the most among active players. He had interceptions in three consecutive games, picking off Georgia’s Jake Fromm, Vanderbilt’s Kyle Shurmur and Kentucky’s Terry Wilson. He is second in the SEC with his three picks and is tied for 11th in the nation with 0.5 interceptions per game.
KICKING IT WITH PARKER: Redshirt sophomore Parker White has been successful on 27-of-28 attempts this season, going 8-for-9 on field goal attempts (including a career-high tying 3-for-3 at Vanderbilt and vs. Missouri) and 19-for-19 on extra points. For his career, he is 22-of-34 on field goal attempts, including 16-of-18 from inside 40 yards, and 45-for-45 on extra points.
WINNER, WINNER: Parker White earned co-SEC Special Teams Player of the Week accolades for his performance in the win over Missouri. The sophomore from Mount Pleasant, S.C., hit on all three of his field goal attempts, connecting from a season-long 42 yards on two occasions, and a 33-yard game-winner with just two seconds remaining. All three of his field goals came in the second half when the field conditions were soggy due to a rainstorm, and gave the Gamecocks the lead (24-23, 34-32 and 37-35). It was the second game-winner in the final seconds of his young career (also vs. Louisiana Tech in 2017).
I’M CHARLTON YOUR PUNTER: Junior Joseph Charlton handles the punting chores for the Gamecocks and is an All-SEC candidate. He has booted 22 punts this season for a 45.3-yard average, fourth in the SEC, with a long of 66. 15 of the 22 have been fair catches, with just one (his 66-yarder) resulting in a touchback. He was named the Ray Guy National Punter of the Week for his performance against Texas A&M when he punted six times for a 50.7-yard average. The Gamecocks rank 21st in the country in net punting at 40.6 yards. Last season, Charlton averaged 43.5 yards on 55 punts with a long of 73 yards. He had just four touchbacks, logged 15 punts inside the 20 and boomed 17 punts of 50 yards or more. The Gamecocks ranked 19th in the nation in net punting with a 40.5-yard average.
THE G.O.A.T? Joseph Charlton owns a career punting average of 44.0 yards (3,387 yards on 77 punts). He ranks atop the Carolina all-time punting average list for punters with at least 75 attempts.
PUNTING AVERAGE (Min. 75 Punts)
1. Joseph Charlton (2017-18)…. 44.0 (77 for 3387)
2. Sean Kelly (2015-16)…………. 43.3 (127 for 5496)
3. Spencer Lanning (2007-10)… 42.6 (171 for 7292)
4. Ryan Succop (2005-08)……… 42.3 (85 for 3597)
5. Tom O’Connor (1984-85)….. 41.8 (118 for 4934)
BE AFRAID, BE VERY AFRAID: Senior kick returner Deebo Samuel had two chances to return kickoffs last season and took them both to the house from 97 yards away, turning the trick against NC State and Missouri. He is the only player in school history to log three kick returns for scores in his career, and is the school’s all-time leader in kickoff returns with a 30.1-yard average (814 yards on 27 returns). His eight returns for a 20.6-yard average this season ranks seventh in the SEC.
FRESH FISH: The Gamecocks have played 11 true freshmen this season. In addition to Jaycee Horn who is a starter, R.J. Roderick, Josh Vann, Israel Mukuamu, Rosendo Louis Jr., Kingsley Enagbare, Ernest Jones, Jovaughn Gwyn, Dylan Wonnum, Rick Sandidge and Josh Belk all have seen game action.
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: The Gamecocks are without the services of fifth-year senior running back Caleb Kinlaw and true freshman defensive tackle Tyreek Johnson, both of whom suffered torn ACLs during fall camp. Redshirt freshman defensive back Tavyn Jackson was forced to retire from football due to a medical issue, but will remain on scholarship. True freshman Jovaughn Gwyn had season-ending surgery on his foot. Sophomore wide receiver OrTre Smith is out for the season after surgery to fix a kneecap issue. Senior linebacker Eldridge Thompson is out for the season after undergoing shoulder surgery.
HAPPY, HAPPY, JOY, JOY: Two former walk-ons, redshirt senior long snapper Ben Asbury and redshirt sophomore center Chandler Farrell, were rewarded for their hard work and dedication by being placed on scholarship for the 2018 season.
CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN: The Gamecocks do not pick permanent team captains until the end of the season. However, they return two of the four captains from 2017, Jake Bentley and D.J. Wonnum. Bentley and Wonnum became just the second and third sophomores to gain the distinction of team captain, joining Hayden Hurst (2016). Here the game captains:
COASTAL: Jake Bentley, T.J. Brunson, Deebo Samuel, Donell Stanley
GEORGIA: Bryson Allen-Williams Jacob August, K.C. Crosby, Steven Montac
VANDERBILT: T.J. Brunson, Bryan Edwards, Daniel Fennell
KENTUCKY: Bryson Allen-Williams, Zack Bailey, Dennis Daley, Javon Kinlaw
MISSOURI: Daniel Fennell, Kiel Pollard, Deebo Samuel, Donell Stanley
TEXAS A&M: K.C. Crosby, Kyle Markway, Michael Scarnecchia, Kier Thomas
2017 IN REVIEW: South Carolina football concluded its 124th season of intercollegiate football in 2017 with a record of 9-4, including a 5-3 mark in the SEC. The Gamecocks won nine or more games for just the seventh time in school history. Five of those seven seasons have come in the last eight years. South Carolina defeated Florida and Tennessee, two of the big three SEC East rivals, in the same season for just the fourth time. Two of the Gamecocks’ four losses were to teams that participated in the College Football Playoff (Georgia and Clemson). The season culminated with a New Year’s Day Outback Bowl win over perennial Big Ten power Michigan by a 26-19 score, as Carolina rallied from a 19-3 third-quarter deficit.
PROGRAM ON THE RISE: The Gamecocks increased their overall win total from three in 2015 to six in 2016 to nine in 2017. Carolina is one of only three NCAA FBS programs and the only one in the Power Five to have a multiple-win improvement in each of the last two regular seasons.
WHERE THERE’S A WILL: South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp is in his third season in Columbia. Coach Muschamp posted a 15-11 ledger in his first two seasons guiding the Gamecocks. Only Joe Morrison (15-8 in 1983-84) and Steve Spurrier (15-10 in 2005-06) won as many games in their first two seasons at Carolina.
CLASS BREAKDOWN: The 112-man roster consists of 20 seniors, 25 juniors, 23 sophomores, 15 redshirt freshmen and 29 true freshmen.
TOTING THE SHEEPSKIN: Six Gamecocks earned their undergraduate degree in May, including Bryson Allen-Williams, Ben Asbury, Jacob August, Javon Charleston, K.C. Crosby and Michael Scarnecchia. Malik Young earned his degree in August. Additionally, Nick Harvey (Texas A&M) and J.T. Ibe (Rice) joined the team as graduate transfers. Another 13 players are slated to finish up their bachelor’s degree in December, including Zack Bailey, Dennis Daley, Javion Duncan, Daniel Fennell, Danny Gordon, Caleb Kinlaw, Javon Kinlaw, Steven Montac, Christian Pellage, Deebo Samuel, Donell Stanley, Eldridge Thompson and Ty’Son Williams.
GRADUATION SUCCESS RATE: The Gamecocks ranked in a tie for fourth in the nation and second among FBS schools in the latest graduation success rate data. Carolina checked in with a 98 percent GSR, behind only Dartmouth (100), Harvard (100) and Northwestern (99).
UP NEXT: The Gamecocks play three of their four November games on the road, beginning with a Nov. 3 date at Ole Miss. The Rebels lead the all-time series, 8-7, but the teams have not met since 2009.