Gamecocks Host Charleston Southern Saturday, Sept. 7
Home Opener Set for Noon
QUICKLY: The South Carolina Gamecocks (0-1) open the home portion of their 2019 schedule with a noon kick against FCS in-state rival Charleston Southern (0-1) on Saturday, Sept. 7. The SEC Network will televise the contest with Dave Neal and DJ Shockley in the booth and Dawn Davenport on the sidelines.
THE HISTORY: 2019 marks the 126th season of intercollegiate football at the University of South Carolina, dating back to 1892. It is the 113th-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 608-580-44, a .511 winning percentage.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY: The 2019 season marks the 50th anniversary of the 1969 South Carolina squad that won the Atlantic Coast Conference title with a perfect 6-0 mark under Paul Dietzel. That team was rewarded with a trip to the Peach Bowl. 2019 also marks the 25th anniversary of the 1994 South Carolina team that went 7-5 including the school’s first bowl victory – a 24-21 win over West Virginia in the Carquest Bowl.
IT JUST MEANS MORE: The 2019 season marks South Carolina’s 28th year in the Southeastern Conference. South Carolina and Arkansas joined the league prior to the 1992 campaign. The Gamecocks earned the SEC Eastern Division title in the 2010 season. The Gamecocks are 94-121-1 (.438) all-time in SEC regular-season play, but are 39-33 (.542) in conference action since the start of the 2010 season.
THE SKINNY ON CSU: Charleston Southern, out of the FCS Big South Conference, began playing football 1991. It was tough sledding early for the Buccaneers, as they logged 13-consecutive losing seasons before breaking even for the first time in 2004. They joined the Big South Conference in 2002 and went 1-10 through the first three seasons in the league. The Bucs posted their first winning record in 2005, earning their first Big South title along the way. They reached the FCS Playoffs in both 2015 and 2016. They are coming off a 5-6 campaign in 2018, including a 3-2 mark in the Big South.
FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME: South Carolina and Charleston Southern are meeting for the first time ever on the gridiron.
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: CSU faces an SEC opponent for the third-consecutive season having previously taken on Mississippi State and Florida. Mississippi State posted a 49-0 win over the Bucs to open the 2017 campaign, while Florida rolled to a 53-6 win in the 2018 season lidlifter for both schools. The Bucs are 0-20 all-time against FBS opponents and 0-7 all-time against the SEC, including losses to Florida (twice), Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. Charleston Southern has been outscored 345-65 over their previous seven games against the SEC.
WHERE THEY’LL FINISH: Charleston Southern was picked to finish third in the 2019 Big South preseason poll behind Kennesaw State and Monmouth. North Alabama was not included in the poll due to not being eligible for the Big South Championship and not counting as a conference opponent this season.
THE HEAD COACH: Autry Denson begins his first season guiding the Bucs’ football fortunes. The former Notre Dame standout was named the CSU fifth head coach in program history in January. He spent the last four years as the running backs coach at his alma mater. Other coaching stops include stints at South Florida, Miami (Ohio) and Bethune-Cookman.
A FEW LESS WINS THAT LAST WEEK: The Gamecocks faced a North Carolina team that was led by veteran coach Mack Brown last week. Brown has accumulated 245 wins in his career. This week, the Gamecocks face first-year head coach Autry Denson. Denson is looking for his first win as a head coach.
MUSCHAMP AND THE BUCS: South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp has never faced the Charleston Southern Buccaneers.
HELLO OLD FRIEND: Former Gamecock Darius Douglas is on the Bucs roster. Douglas, a 6-0, 175-pound quarterback from Moncks Corner and Berkeley High School, was a walk-on for the Gamecocks in 2017 and 2018 before transferring to Charleston Southern.
LARGE AND IN CHARGE: CSU Athletics Director Jeff Barber is a former member of the Gamecock Athletics administration, serving a 10-year stint from 1996-2006 in development and as executive director of the Gamecock Club.
ABOUT LAST WEEK: Darren Grainger ran for one touchdown and threw for another as Furman crushed Charleston Southern, 46-13 in the season-opener last Saturday.
The loss spoiled the head coaching debut of Charleston Southern’s Autry Denson, who became just the fifth head coach in Buccaneers history in January. Jamey Chadwell, who guided CSU past The Citadel in the 2013 opener, is the only coach to win his debut at the school.
Grainger capped a six-play, 46-yard drive by scoring from the 4 for the game’s first touchdown. Devin Abrams and Devin Wynn each had first-half touchdown runs as the Paladins held a 24-6 advantage at intermission.
Terrence Wilson scored on a 52-yard run for Charleston Southern and Jack Chambers bulled in from the 1 to get the Buccaneers within two touchdowns, 24-13 early in the third quarter, but Grainger connected with Ryan DeLuca on a six-yard pass and Furman added a two-point conversion to make it 32-13 before Carson Maples and freshman Wayne Anderson, Jr. each broke for 66-yard touchdown runs less than three minutes apart in the fourth quarter to set the final score.
NON-CONFERENCE SUCCESS: The Gamecocks are 31-9 in their last 40 non-conference games, with five of the nine losses in that stretch coming against Clemson. Carolina has another formidable non-conference slate in 2019, with ACC opponents North Carolina and Clemson, along with Sun Belt champion Appalachian State and Charleston Southern on the docket.
THE POWER OF FIVE: Since the turn of the century, the Gamecocks have a 45-3 mark against teams not currently in a Power 5 conference. The only three losses in that stretch came to UConn in the 2010 Papajohns.com Bowl, to The Citadel in 2015 and to South Florida in the 2016 Birmingham Bowl. It should be noted that UConn was in the Big East, which was a BCS automatic qualifier during the 2009 season.
PROTECT THIS HOUSE: Carolina has won 30 of its last 33 home games against non-conference foes. The Gamecocks had won a school-record 22-straight home games against non-conference opponents before dropping the final two games of the 2015 regular season to The Citadel and Clemson. They were 3-0 against non-conference opponents at Williams-Brice Stadium last season, with wins over Coastal Carolina, Chattanooga and Akron. The remaining non-conference home games are against Appalachian State and Clemson.
ABOUT LAST WEEK: The Gamecocks opened the 2019 season at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte and suffered a 24-20 loss to the North Carolina Tar Heels. The Gamecocks took a 20-9 advantage into the fourth quarter, but surrendered 98-yard and 95-yard scoring drives, as the Tar Heels rallied for the win. It was just the Gamecocks’ second season-opening loss in the last 20 years (also 2014 against Texas A&M).
FRESHMEN DEBUTS: True freshmen cornerback John Dixon and nickelback Jammie Robinson both started in the secondary in the season opener against North Carolina. They became the eighth and ninth true freshman to start a season opener for the Gamecocks since the 2009 season, joining Stephon Gilmore (2009), Marcus Lattimore (2010), Jadeveon Clowney (2011), Bryson Allen-Williams (2014), Al Harris Jr. (2014), Bryan Edwards (2016) and Jaycee Horn (2018).
FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME: In addition to John Dixon and Jammie Robinson, offensive guard Eric Douglas and linebacker Ernest Jones made their first collegiate starts last week.
FEATURING FEASTER: Graduate transfer Tavien Feaster had a productive debut in the Garnet & Black. The Clemson transfer rushed 13 times for 72 yards, including a 34-yard scoring burst, which put the Gamecocks ahead 10-3, late in the first quarter. Feaster now has the rare distinction of scoring both for and against the Gamecocks in his career.
THROW IT TO THE TIGHT END: The Gamecocks may be thin at tight end this season, but Kyle Markway showed that the cupboard isn’t completely bare. The fifth-year junior caught two passes on a third-quarter scoring drive. He hauled in a 15-yard reception on a 3rd-and-14, then three plays later, caught a 22-yard scoring strike.
BLOCK THAT KICK: Senior defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw knows how to use all six-feet, six-inches of his frame to block kicks. He blocked a field goal attempt in the season opener against North Carolina, the third blocked kick of his career. He also blocked field goal attempts at Missouri in 2017 and vs. Chattanooga in 2018.
FILLING UP THE STAT LINE: In addition to his blocked field goal attempt, Javon Kinlaw was credited with four tackles, including a sack, had a fumble recovery and a quarterback hurry.
MR. JONES HAS A THING GOING ON: Sophomore linebacker Ernest Jones made his first career start a memorable one. The 6-2, 235-pounder from Waycross, Ga., collected a dozen tackles in the season opener, just four shy of his 2018 total. He also was credited with a pair of pass break ups.
FORCE THAT FUMBLE: Defensive back Jaycee Horn was credited with a pair of forced fumbles against North Carolina. He is tied with five other players for the NCAA lead in forced fumbles after Week 1, and is on pace to force 24 fumbles this season, which would be a record.
GOOD REDZONE DEFENSE: The Gamecocks allowed four North Carolina penetrations into the red zone, but surrendered just one touchdown, while forcing a trio of field goals.
THE SPECIAL TEAMS WERE SPECIAL: The Gamecocks were solid in the special teams department in the season opener.
* Kickoff returner Shi Smith returned three kicks for 100 yards, including a 60-yarder that set up a third-quarter touchdown. The Gamecocks rank first in the SEC and seventh in the country in kickoff returns at 33.3 yards per return, while Smith ranks sixth nationally.
* Punt returner Bryan Edwards had three returns for 66 yards, including a 38-yarder and a 24-yard return. Edwards 22.0-yard average ranks fifth nationally, while the Gamecocks are tied for seventh in the nation. Last season, Edwards totaled 95 yards on 12 returns.
* Senior punter Joseph Charlton punted five times for a 43.2-yard average with a long of 59 yards. He also pinned North Carolina inside the five-yard line on two occasions.
* Junior placekicker Parker White connected on two-of-three field goal attempts, with his lone miss coming from 53 yards out. He continues to be money from inside 40 yards, connecting twice, and ius now 23-of-25 (92 percent) from inside 40 yards for his career.
THE B-MAC ATTACK: The Gamecock offense did not get off to the start it had hoped this season. However, under newly-minted offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon, took a big step forward in 2018. The offense had five games of 500 yards or more for the first time in school history, including back-to-back games of 600 yards against Chattanooga and Clemson. With a record-breaking senior quarterback and wide receiver, a slew of senior running backs and an athletic offensive line, Carolina is looking to build on their production this season in B-Mac’s second year.
OUR QUARTERBACK IS A BENTLEY: Senior Jake Bentley has triggered the Gamecocks’ offense since the middle of the 2016 season. Bentley, a 6-4, 220-pounder from Opelika, Ala., owns a 19-14 record as a starting signal-caller. He ranks near the top of several career statistical categories in school history (see the chart on this page). Redshirt freshman Dakereon Joyner and sophomore Jay Urich are the only other players on the roster who have taken a snap from center in a collegiate game. Each has completed one pass and is currently playing more wide receiver than quarterback.
KEEPING UP WITH THE BENTLEYS: Jake Bentley comes from a football family. His father, Bobby, is the Gamecocks’ tight ends coach and was previously a very successful prep coach at Byrnes High School and at Presbyterian College in South Carolina. Stepbrother Chas Dodd quarterbacked at Rutgers and is now on Miami’s strength & conditioning staff. Brother Shuler Bentley quarterbacked at Old Dominion and Murray State and is now a graduate assistant at Troy.
NEXT IN LINE: True freshman Ryan Hilinski earned the backup quarterback role in fall camp over Dakereon Joyner. Like Bentley, Hilinski, a highly-touted 6-3, 230-pound signal-caller from California, comes from a quarterbacking family. His brother Kelly played QB at Columbia and Weber State, while his brother, the late Tyler Hilinski, was a quarterback at Washington State. Hilinski joined the team in January and went through spring drills. In the spring game, Hilinski completed 24-of-36 passes for 206 yards on the afternoon, including completions on each of his first eight attempts.
SENIOR STABLE OF BACKS: New running backs coach Thomas Brown has a trio of senior running backs at his disposal in Rico Dowdle, Mon Denson and graduate transfer Tavien Feaster.
* Rico Dowdle (6-0, 215) ranks 22nd on the school’s all-time rushing list with 1,731 yards. He has scored a dozen rushing TDs in 30 games including 20 starts. He made the start in the season opener and rushed for 62 yards on 11 carries, with a long run of 21 yards.
* Mon Denson (5-10, 215) has 584 yards rushing over the past two seasons, averaging 4.6 yards per tote. He has four rushing TDs in 22 games including a pair of starts. He did not see any action in the backfield in the season opener.
* Tavien Feaster (6-0, 221), who played at Clemson in each of the past three seasons, entered 2019 with 1,330 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns on 222 carries over 41 career games including 11 starts. He ranked second in Clemson history in career yards per carry (5.99) behind only Travis Etienne as of the conclusion of the 2018 season. He was the Gamecocks’ top rusher in the season opener, carrying 13 times for 72 yards, including a 34-yard touchdown scamper.
CATCH IT IF YOU CAN: Offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon also is in charge of the wide receivers, a unit led by senior wide receiver Bryan Edwards.
* Bryan Edwards already ranks statistically among the best wide receivers in school history (see the chart on this page). He has caught a pass in all 39 games in which he has appeared. He caught career pass number 164 against North Carolina, tying Zola Davis for fourth on Carolina’s all-time list. He also passed Sidney Rice into fifth place on the school’s all-time receiving yards list with 2,236.
* Junior Shi Smith (5-10, 190) is poised to have a breakout season, following the graduation of second-round NFL draft pick Deebo Samuel. Smith was the top receiver against North Carolina, catching five passes for 55 yards.
* Sophomore Josh Vann was listed as the third starting wide receiver spot in fall camp, but it was Chavis Dawkins who made the start against UNC. Redshirt sophomore OrTre Smith did not dress for the opener, but looks to return to the lineup after missing most of last season following knee surgery. Randrecous Davis also missed the opener with an ankle injury. Dakereon Joyner and Jay Urich got some reps at wide receiver in the opener. Urich is now wearing number 81. Both are converted quarterbacks. Joyner just started playing the position midway through fall camp. True freshman Xavier Legette was impressive in fall camp and saw some action in the opener.
THIN AT TIGHT END: Bobby Bentley takes over as the tight ends coach this season and has his work cut out for him, with just seven career Division I receptions in his room entering the 2019 campaign. He lost K.C. Crosby and Jacob August to graduation, then lost Kiel Pollard to a career-ending medical situation during fall camp. Fifth-year junior Kyle Markway (6-4, 250) is the only experienced D-I tight end in the room. Nick Muse (6-3, 232), a transfer from William & Mary, would be a welcome addition if the NCAA rules he is eligible this season. He hauled in 30 passes for 453 yards a season ago for the Tribe. Junior Chandler Farrell, a former walk-on center, moved to tight end during fall camp to add depth. Markway stepped up big in the season opener with a pair of catches for 37 yards, including a 22-yard score.
O-LINE IS FINE: The Gamecocks have some experience and some depth along the offensive line in what offensive line coach Eric Wolford considers his most athletic unit since rejoining the Carolina staff. Sixth-year senior Donell Stanley (6-3, 325) anchors the unit. Stanley moves back to left guard this season after working at center in 2018. The tackle positions are manned on the left side by redshirt junior Sadarius Hutcherson (6-4, 320) and on the right side by Dylan Wonnum (6-5, 310). Hutcherson played guard in 2018, but is strong and athletic enough to handle the tackle position. He earned a spot on Bruce Feldman’s “Freaks” list. Wonnum was a Freshman All-American last season. Redshirt freshman Hank Manos (6-4, 290) starts at center. He was the starter at center for the Belk Bowl last December. The right guard position is a battle between redshirt sophomore Eric Douglas (6-4, 315) and redshirt freshman Jovaughn Gwyn (6-2, 305). Douglas, who made the start in the season opener, is a swing guy who could play several other positions if needed.
CAN’T TOUCH THIS: Carolina’s number of sacks allowed has dipped from 41 in 2016 the year prior to Eric Wolford’s arrival, to 29 in 2017 and to 23 in 2018 the fewest since the 2013 season.
BROTHERLY LOVE: When Dylan and D.J. Wonnum both started against Tennessee in 2018, they become the first set of brothers to start in a game for Carolina since 2014 when Gerald Dixon and Gerald Dixon Jr. were starters along the defensive line. Dylan was named the SEC Freshman of the Week for his efforts against the Vols, while D.J. earned SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week honors for the same game. It was the first time a set of brothers earned SEC honors in the same week.
HEALTH IS THE KEY: The Gamecocks look to bounce back on defense this season after injuries took a major toll on the unit a season ago. What has long been Coach Muschamp’s calling card, the defense will now reap the benefits of having several players forced into duty last season, a campaign in which 19 different players made starts on the defensive side of the ball, including three true freshmen defensive backs in Jaycee Horn, Israel Mukuamu and R.J. Roderick. This season, a pair of true freshmen in cornerback John Dixon and nickel Jammie Robinson earned starts in the season opener.
SENIORS LEAD THE WAY UP FRONT: This is easily the best defensive front in both depth and talent assembled at South Carolina since the days of Jadeveon Clowney and company raised havoc throughout the SEC. Coach Muschamp has publicly put the pressure on a quintet of seniors to lead the way up front.
* Most of the preseason accolades have gone to Javon Kinlaw (6-6, 310), who some NFL experts have labeled a possible first-round draft pick. He had a solid opener with four tackles, a sack, a fumble recovery, a quarterback hurry and a blocked field goal.
* Expect D.J. Wonnum (6-5, 260) to have a big year after missing eight games a year ago with an ankle injury. Wonnum was named a team captain in 2017 after logging 13.0 tackles for loss including 6.0 sacks. He logged three of the Gamecocks’ six tackles for loss in the season opener and registered seven tackles overall.
* Kobe Smith (6-2, 300) is a “glue guy” in the middle of the line. He had four stops in the opener against UNC.
* Keir Thomas (6-2, 275) is a swing guy who could play either inside or set the edge. He is currently sidelined with an infection in his ankle.
* Daniel Fennell (6-2, 255) is coming off an ACL, but hasn’t missed a beat and is a very consistent performer.
IN BACK OF THE LINE: What was a very thin unit that saw T.J. Brunson and Sherrod Greene each play over 900 snaps a year ago, the Gamecock linebacking corps is much deeper this season.
* T.J. Brunson (6-1, 230) is the unquestioned leader of the group and of the entire defense. The first player that Coach Muschamp recruiting at Carolina, Brunson has logged 206 career tackles, including 106 last season alone. He opened the 2019 season with nine stops against UNC.
* Sophomore Ernest Jones (6-2, 235) has continued to improve and earned the starting spot at the MIKE position, allowing Brunson to move to WILL, which he played earlier in his career. An excellent communicator, Jones starred in his first starting assignment against UNC, registering a team-high 12 tackles, along with a pair of pass breakups.
* Sherrod Greene (6-1, 230) started every game last season and is now in a reserve role. Eldridge Thompson (6-1, 225) is a sixth-year senior, while junior Damani Staley (6-0, 235) and sophomore Rosendo Louis Jr. (6-2, 250) figure to see playing time. True freshman Jahmar Brown (6-1, 205) was impressive in fall camp and worked his way into the two-deep.
RECONFIGURED SECONDARY: Defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson has a talented, but relatively inexperienced group in his meeting room.
* J.T. Ibe (5-10, 195) is a sixth-year graduate transfer who, along with junior Jamyest Williams (5-8, 180) are the two veterans in the secondary. Ibe missed the opener with a pec injury, something he dealt with at Rice as well. Williams logged nine stops in the opener.
* A pair of sophomores in Jaycee Horn (6-1, 200) and Israel Mukuamu (6-4, 205) have the ability to play more man coverage from their cornerback positions. Both are stars in the making, according to the coaching staff. Horn logged a sack and forced a pair of fumbles in the season opener. Mukuamu logged seven tackles against UNC.
* Versatile senior A.J. Turner (5-10, 190) has been transitioning from running back to defensive back for his final campaign. He missed the opener with a shoulder injury.
* True freshmen Jammie Robinson (5-11, 200) and John Dixon (6-0, 190) both started vs. UNC.
HUTZLER’S HEROES: Special teams coach Coleman Hutzler has the luxury of having all of his kickers returning for the 2019 season, including second-team All-SEC punter Joseph Charlton, who is the school’s career leader in punting average, placekicker Parker White, who connected on 81 percent of his field goal attempts last season, and kickoff specialist Will Tommie, who had 31 touchbacks on 41 kickoffs a season ago. Starting punt returner Bryan Edwards also returns for his senior season. Replacing school-record holding kick returner Deebo Samuel will be challenging to say the least. Do-it-all performer A.J. Turner and Shi Smith figure to get the first opportunity to step into the void. Charlton steps in to handle the holding duties on placements, replacing Danny Gordon, while graduate transfer Matt Oliveira will handle the deep snapping duties, replacing two-year starter Ben Asbury.
KICKING IT WITH PARKER: Redshirt junior Parker White is in his third season handling the extra point and field goal attempts. White was 2-for-3 in the field goal department against North Carolina, connecting from 32 and 39 yards and missing from 53. He is 29-of-44 (65.9 percent) in career field goal attempts, including 23-of-25 (92.0 percent) from inside 40 yards. He is 73-for-74 on extra point attempts.
WINNER, WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER: Parker White owns three fourth-quarter game-winning field goals in his career. He provided the deciding points in wins over Louisiana Tech (2017), Missouri (2018) and Tennessee (2018).
I’M CHARLTON YOUR PUNTER: Senior Joseph Charlton returns to handle the punting chores for the Gamecocks and is an All-SEC candidate. He was solid in the opener with a long of 59 yards and twice pinning the Tar Heels inside the 5. Last season, Charlton averaged 44.8 yards per punt, fifth in the SEC and 13th nationally, while earning second-team All-SEC honors from the league’s coaches. His average was the best single-season mark in school history, just ahead of the 44.3-yad mark set by Daren Parker in 1989 and matched by Sean Kelly in 2015.
PUNT RETURN SPECIALIST: Bryan Edwards serves as the Gamecocks’ primary punt returner in 2019. He had a big game in the season opener against North Carolina, returning three punts for 66 yards with a career-long of 38. His 22.0-yard average ranks fifth in the nation. Edwards handled those duties a year ago, returning 12 punts for 95 yards, an average of 7.9 yards per return, with a long of 32.
WATCH ME NOW: The Gamecocks have 11 players on the Senior Bowl preseason watch list, the third-highest total in the country. The list includes Jake Bentley, T.J. Brunson, Joseph Charlton, Rico Dowdle, Bryan Edwards, Tavien Feaster, Javon Kinlaw, Kyle Markway, Donell Stanley, Keir Thomas and D.J. Wonnum.
WHERE THERE’S A WILL: Will Muschamp is in his fourth season guiding the Gamecock football program. He owns a record of 22-18. He became the first coach to take South Carolina to bowl games in each of his first three seasons. Steve Spurrier’s first three Carolina teams (2005-07) were bowl-eligible, but the 2007 squad did not receive a bowl bid despite posting a 6-6 campaign.
SEC SUCCESS: The Gamecocks have put together back-to-back seasons of four or more SEC wins for the first time since 2012-13. It’s also just the sixth time in program history that’s occurred.
COACHING CAROUSEL: Will Muschamp made a pair of coaching changes during the off season. On the offensive side, Thomas Brown replaced Pat Washington. Brown, who most recently worked at Miami (Fla.), serves as the running backs coach, with Bobby Bentley transitioning to tight ends. On defense, John Scott Jr. replaces Lance Thompson to mentor the defensive line. Scott most recently worked at Arkansas.
BREAKING IT DOWN: The 112-man roster (as of August 29) consists of 21 seniors, 25 juniors, 23 sophomores, 17 redshirt freshmen and 26 true freshmen.
RETURNING STARTERS: The Gamecocks list 16 returning starters from the 2018 squad, seven on offense, seven on defense and two specialists. The returning offensive starters are Jake Bentley, Rico Dowdle, Bryan Edwards, Sadarius Hutcherson, Shi Smith, Donell Stanley and Dylan Wonnum. The returning defensive starters are T.J. Brunson, Sherrod Greene, Jaycee Horn, Javon Kinlaw, R.J. Roderick, Kobe Smith and Keir Thomas. The two specialists are Joseph Charlton and Parker White.
OLD-TIMERS GAME: The Gamecocks have four players – Caleb Kinlaw, J.T. Ibe, Donell Stanley and Eldridge Thompson – who have been granted a sixth-year of eligibility by the NCAA for the 2019 season. Their first collegiate season was in 2014. South Carolina and Akron are the only Division I schools with four sixth-year players on the roster.
GRAD TRANSFERS: The Gamecocks welcomed two grad transfers this fall. Running back Tavien Feaster comes to Carolina after graduating from Clemson, while deep snapper Matt Oliveira joined the squad after graduating from Maryland. J.T. Ibe is another graduate transfer from Rice, who is in his second season with the Gamecocks.
POSITION SHUFFLE: Since the printing of the 2019 media guide, A.J. Turner has spent most of his time in the secondary after being listed as a running back; Darius Rush was moved to the secondary after playing wide receiver and is now wearing number 28 rather than 81; Chandler Farrell converted from center to tight end, changing from 60 to 31. Jay Urich, listed as a quarterback, has been a regular in the wide receiver unit and now wears number 81. Dakeron Joyner, also the third-string quarterback, played wide receiver last week.
YOUR MONEY’S NO GOOD HERE: Just prior to the start of the 2019 academic year, walk-on linebacker Spencer Eason-Riddle was rewarded with a scholarship.
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: Senior tight end Kiel Pollard was forced to give up his playing career during fall camp. Pollard suffered a small fracture in his neck, which was to have sidelined him for 4-6 weeks. However, during an MRI, the doctors discovered a cyst on his spinal cord, which appears to have been there since he was a child. The severity of the situation and the possible long-term consequences from that medical condition forced him to retire. Pollard, who will graduate in December, is serving as a student-assistant coach. He served as a captain in the season opener against
MISSING YOU THIS SEASON: Sophomore safety Jaylin Dickerson had surgery in June for a labrum tear in his hip. JUCO defensive lineman Devontae Davis is out for the season after undergoing surgery on his foot.
ABOUT THE SCHEDULE: The Gamecocks have what many consider the toughest schedule in Division I football for the 2019 season. Carolina’s 2019 opponents combined for a 106-50 record and a .679 winning percentage during the 2018 season. Two of their 2019 opponents, Clemson and Alabama, reached the FBS Championship game a year ago, while three (Alabama, Clemson and Appalachian State) were regular season champions in the SEC, ACC and Sun Belt conferences, respectively. There have been three programs to reach the College Football Playoff National Championship in each of the last two seasons, Alabama, Clemson and Georgia, and South Carolina is playing all three this year.
HALF REACHED DOUBLE-DIGITS: Six of the Gamecocks’ 12 opponents on their 2019 scheduled posted at least 10 wins during the 2018 campaign, including Clemson (15), Alabama (14), Georgia (11), Appalachian State (11), Florida (10) and Kentucky (10). Additionally, Texas A&M won nine while Missouri posted eight wins.
FAMILY TIES: Sophomore defensive back Jaycee Horn is the son of former NFL wide receiver Joe Horn, junior linebacker Damani Staley is the son of former Gamecock and NFL running back Duce Staley, while 2019 signee Shilo Sanders is the son of former NFL and MLB standout Deion Sanders.
TOTING THE SHEEPSKIN: Thirteen Gamecocks already have their undergraduate degree in hand. Those who have graduated include: Joseph Charlton, Mon Denson, Spencer Eason-Riddle, Chandler Farrell, Tavien Feaster, Daniel Fennell, Bailey Hart, J.T. Ibe, Caleb Kinlaw, Kyle Markway, Matt Oliveira, Donell Stanley and Eldridge Thompson.
THE CAP AND GOWN AWAITS: Fifteen Gamecocks are on track to graduate in December. The list includes: Michael Almond, Jake Bentley, T.J. Brunson, Rico Dowdle, Bryan Edwards, Daniel Fennell (Master’s), Sadarius Hutcherson, Javon Kinlaw, Sean McGonigal, Kiel Pollard, Kobe Smith, Keir Thomas, Will Tommie, A.J. Turner, and Alex Woznick.
LOVE US FOR OUR MINDS: Gamecock football student-athletes posted a combined 3.026 GPA in the fall semester of 2018, the best in school history, then topped that with a 3.084 team GPA in the spring of 2019.
UP NEXT: The Gamecocks open the SEC portion of their 2019 slate with a home game against No. 2/2 Alabama on Saturday, September 14. Game time is set for 3:30 pm ET, and the game will be televised nationally on CBS. Alabama holds a 12-3 advantage in the all-time series that dates back to 1937, but the Gamecocks have won three of the last five meetings between the two schools, including a 35-21 win over the top-ranked Crimson Tide on Oct. 9, 2010, the last time they met.