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Gamecocks Open SEC Slate Saturday at Arkansas
Gamecocks Open SEC Slate Saturday at Arkansas
Football  . 

Gamecocks Open SEC Slate Saturday at Arkansas

Setting The Stage

The South Carolina Gamecocks (1-0, 0-0 SEC) travel to Fayetteville, Ark. to take on the No. 16/17 Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday, Sept. 10, in the 2022 SEC opener for both squads. Game time from Reynolds Razorback Stadium (76,000) is set for 11 am CT (noon ET).

This week’s game is being televised nationally on ESPN. Bob Wischusen will handle the play-by-play with Dan Orlovsky providing the color commentary. Kris Budden will work the sidelines for the network. ESPN Radio also has a national broadcast with Mike Couzens on the call with Max Starks as the analyst and Mike Peasley on the sidelines.

Both teams come into the contest off season-opening victories. The Gamecocks used two touchdown returns of blocked punts in the second half to pull away from a feisty Georgia State squad, 35-14, while the Razorbacks took a 14-0 lead into intermission and held on for a 31-24 victory over Cincinnati.

South Carolina and Arkansas joined the SEC together in 1992 and were assigned as “permanent” cross-division rivals. That held as the teams played every year until Texas A&M and Missouri joined the conference in 2013. The Aggies became the Gamecocks “permanent” cross-division rival at that time, while the Tigers and Razorbacks were paired up in a similar fashion. After facing each other on the gridiron for 22-consecutive seasons between 1992-2013, South Carolina and Arkansas have only met once since that time (2017).

For the second-straight week, South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer will be facing a former colleague. Coach Beamer and Sam Pittman were on the Georgia staffs together under head coach Kirby Smart for the 2016 and 2017 seasons. The 2016 squad went 8-5 and defeated TCU in the Liberty Bowl. The 2017 Bulldogs defeated Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl, then lost to Alabama in the CFP Championship game by a 26-23 score to finish 13-2. Last week, Coach Beamer faced Georgia State head coach Shawn Elliott. Both were on the 2010 South Carolina staff under head coach Steve Spurrier.

WEEK TWO

South Carolina Gamecocks
South Carolina Gamecocks
vs.
Arkansas Razorbacks
Arkansas Razorbacks
Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium | Fayetteville, AR

CAROLINA VS. ARKANSAS

This is the 24th meeting between two former “permanent” cross-divisional rivals in a series that dates back to 1992 when both schools joined the Southeastern Conference. The teams met every year from 1992-2013, but this is the first gridiron meeting between the two schools since the 2017 season and just the second since 2013. Arkansas holds a 13-10 advantage in the all-time series. The Razorbacks have won eight of 11 games when the contest has been played in their home state (5-2 in Fayetteville and 3-1 in Little Rock), while South Carolina has won seven of the 12 tilts in Columbia.

ON A ROLL: The Gamecocks have won each of the last three meetings over Arkansas, their longest winning streak in the series. All have come in convincing fashion, posting a 38-20 victory in Columbia in 2012, then routing the Hogs by a 52-7 count in Fayetteville in 2013 before winning by a 48-22 count in Columbia in 2017 in the most recent meeting. In the last three games, Carolina has outscored the Hogs by a 138-49 margin.

THE LAST TIME THEY MET: The Gamecocks, under head coach Will Muschamp, scored three touchdowns on defense – returning two interceptions and a fumble – in a 48-22 win over Arkansas and head coach Bret Bielema on Oct. 7, 2017 in Columbia. Jake Bentley went 16-of-31 for 199 yards and three touchdowns, including a critical 18-yard pass to Bryan Edwards in the corner of the end zone with four seconds in the first half. The Gamecocks gained 358 yards, scoring on five of eight possessions in the final three quarters. Defensive scores came from Skai Moore (34-yard interception return), T.J. Brunson (73-yard fumble return) and Keisean Nixon (45-yard interception return).

THE LAST TIME THEY MET HERE: The No. 14/12 Gamecocks, under the guidance of head coach Steve Spurrier, rolled up an easy 52-7 win over Arkansas and its first-year head coach Bret Bielema 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.

LIGHTING UP THE SCOREBOARD: The winning team in this series has tallied at least 33 points in each of the last eight contests between the two schools. The Gamecocks put up a combined total of 138 points in their last three games against Arkansas, all resulting in wins.

STEPP’S BROTHERS: South Carolina wide receivers coach Justin Stepp returns to his old stomping grounds this week. He served as Arkansas’s wide receivers coach from 2018-20 before joining Coach Beamer’s staff in Columbia.

HELLO OLD FRIEND: Arkansas defensive line coach Deke Adams held a similar position for the Gamecocks from 2013-15 under head coach Steve Spurrier. He helped the Gamecocks to a pair of bowl wins while coaching 2014 NFL No. 1 pick Jadeveon Clowney. Adams’ front also featured defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles, who earned first-team All-SEC and All-America honors. Quarles and Clowney became the first Carolina duo since 1984 to earn All-America status in the same season.

ABOUT LAST WEEK: The South Carolina Gamecocks opened the second year of the Shane Beamer Era in Columbia with a 35-14 win over Georgia State on Saturday, Sept. 3. A sold-out crowd of 78,297 was on hand to see Spencer Rattler in his Gamecock debut, but it was Pete Lembo and his special teams units that stole the show, it what arguably was the best single-game special teams performance in school history.

BEAMER BALL 2.0: The Gamecocks held a 20-14 lead over Georgia State midway through the third quarter when Rashad Amos broke through the line and blocked a punt that DQ Smith picked up and returned 26 yards for a touchdown. Early in the fourth quarter Traveon Kenion blocked another punt that Ahmarean Brown scooped and scored from 10-yards out to seal the win. They were the first punt returns for a touchdown by the Gamecocks since the 2000 season when Carlos Spikes and Derek Watson both returned blocked punts for first quarter TDs in a 41-21 loss at Florida.

PARKER WHO?: Mitch Jeter won the placekicking duties in fall camp replacing five-year starter and the school’s all-time scoring leader in Parker White. Jeter, who came into the contest with just two career points on 2-of-2 PATs, connected on both of his field goal attempts against Georgia State, the first two of his career, from 53- and 51-yards out. His first attempt, the 53-yarder, tied for the seventh-longest made field goal in school history. There have been just 22 field goals of 50 yards or more in South Carolina history, and Jeter is the first two connect for two in the same game. He also made his only extra point attempt for seven total points. In addition, he kicked off six times with four touchbacks and no return yards.

COBRA KAI: Junior Kai Kroeger missed most of preseason camp with a foot injury and was listed as questionable heading into the Georgia State game, but responded by being the Ray Guy Award National Punter of the Week for the second time in his career. Kroeger punted seven times for 344 yards, a 49.1-yard average with four inside the 20 and three of 50 or more yards, including a career-long 79-yarder, the longest for a Gamecock since Marty Simpson’s 79-yarder against Vanderbilt in 1992. It was the third 70-plus yard punt for Kroeger in his last eight games and the longest in the country so far this season. Here are the 70-plus yard punts since 1979:
Year Punter Opponent Yards
1979 Jay Feltz Clemson 80
1983 Chris Norman Miami (O) 80
1992 Marty Simpson Vanderbilt 79
2022 Kai Kroeger Georgia State 79
1981 Chris Norman Virginia 75
2017 Joseph Charlton Missouri 73
2021 Kai Kroger Texas A&M 73
1982 Chris Norman Navy 70
2001 Tyeler Dean Ohio State 70
2021 Kai Kroger Vanderbilt 70

HUNTER GATHERER: Hunter Rogers, a redshirt sophomore who handles the long snapping duties on punts, was inserted into the game as a holder, as the Gamecocks’ lined up in field goal formation early in the second quarter. Rogers took the snap and darted for five yards for a first down on the fake, setting up the first score of the season.

RATTLER’S BABY: The much-anticipated Carolina debut of transfer quarterback Spencer Rattler was deemed solid. The junior signal-caller completed 23-of-37 passes for 227 yards with one touchdown and a pair of interceptions. He displayed his athleticism, as he was able to scramble and avoid big losses in several situations while showing excellent arm strength and accuracy, especially on the move.

OPENING DAY BESTS: Spencer Rattler threw for 227 yards in the season opener against Georgia State, the 11th-highest yards thrown by a Carolina quarterback in a season opener. Here are the 200-yard passing games in South Carolina season openers:
200-yard Passing Games In Season Openers
No. Yds Quarterback Opponent Year
1. 405 Steve Taneyhill Georgia 1994
2. 366 Dylan Thompson Texas A&M 2014
3. 330 Blake Mitchell UCF 2005
4. 329 Todd Ellis App State 1987
5. 318 Bill Troup Virginia 1972
6. 290 Todd Ellis North Carolina 1988
290 Collin Hill Tennessee 2020
8. 250 Jake Bentley Coastal Carolina 2018
9. 238 Allen Mitchell The Citadel 1984
10. 236 Anthony Wright UCF 1996
11. 227 Spencer Rattler Georgia State 2022
12. 220 Phil Petty Boise State 2001
13. 215 Jake Bentley NC State 2017

HIS DEBUT WENT WELL: Wide receiver Antwane Wells Jr. showed why the Gamecock coaching staff was excited to have him aboard. The junior transfer from James Madison known as “Juice” was targeted seven times on Saturday against Georgia State and caught all seven for 55 yards.

BROOKS WAS HERE: Senior wide receiver Jalen Brooks returned to the lineup on Saturday against Georgia State after missing the final half of the 2021 season. He was targeted four times and responded with four catches for 88 yards, including a pair of highlight reel receptions.

NICK AT NIGHT: True freshman Nick Emmanwori made his presence felt in the opener against Georgia State. The local product from Irmo was inserted into the safety position in the first series of the game following an injury to veteran R.J. Roderick, and played virtually the remainder of the contest. He was credited with three solo tackles and a pass break up, including a stop on a fourth-and-one situation from the Carolina 8-yard line in the game’s first series, which set the tone.

FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME: Six players made their first collegiate start for the Gamecocks on Saturday versus Georgia State, but only two, MarShawn Lloyd and Alex Huntley, were making their first collegiate start overall. Spencer Rattler, Devonni Reed, Austin Stogner and Jordan Strachan made their first starts for Carolina, but had made starts at their previous stops.

A LITTLE HISTORY: 2022 marks the 129th season of intercollegiate football at the University of South Carolina, dating back to 1892. It is the 116th-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 622-601-44, a .508 winning percentage.

FOR OPENERS: The Gamecocks improved their all-time record in season openers to 86-39-4, a winning percentage of .682, through 129 years of intercollegiate football. In the 97 seasons in which the Gamecocks have opened at home, the record is a very impressive 73-20-4. That translates into a .773 winning mark.

SEC OPENERS: This is the first time that South Carolina and Arkansas have met in an SEC season opener. The Gamecocks are 12-18 in their 30 previous SEC openers and have dropped their last four, with their last win coming at Missouri in 2017. They are an even 9-9 when opening the SEC season on the road, but just 3-9 in SEC openers at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia. A majority of the contests have come against Georgia. South Carolina is 7-13 when opening the SEC slate against the Bulldogs from Athens. They are 3-1 against Vanderbilt, 1-0 against Mississippi State and Missouri, and 0-1 against Texas A&M, Kentucky, Alabama and Tennessee. Carolina has won two of its last three and four of its last six SEC openers when playing on the road.

ONE MORE AND THEY CALL IT A STREAK: The Gamecocks are looking to win their third-consecutive game dating back to last season’s Duke’s Mayo Bowl win over North Carolina and last week’s victory over Georgia State. A win this week would match their longest winning streak since they won three-straight midway through the 2017 season when they defeated Arkansas, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt in successive games.

UTILIZING THE PORTAL: The Gamecocks’ roster features nine scholarship transfers, six of whom enrolled at Carolina in January. The spring enrollees included RB Christian Beal-Smith (Wake Forest), RB Lovasea Carroll (Georgia), EDGE Terrell Dawkins (NC State), QB Spencer Rattler (Oklahoma), DB Devonni Reed (Central Michigan), and WR Antwane Wells Jr. (James Madison). TE Nate Adkins (East Tennessee State), WR Corey Rucker (Arkansas State) and TE Austin Stogner (Oklahoma) were added to the roster in the summer. Rattler, Reed and Stogner were in the opening day lineup.

SUPER SENIORS: The Gamecocks list 10 players (not including transfers) whose eligibility would have expired at South Carolina had not the NCAA allowed the 2020 season to be a “free” year. Those “super seniors” are WR Jalen Brooks, OL Eric Douglas, LB Sherrod Greene, LB Brad Johnson, DB R.J. Roderick, EDGE Jordan Strachan, WR Chad Terrell, WR Josh Vann, DL M.J. Webb and OL Dylan Wonnum.
ONE FOR THE THUMB: With the NCAA rule allowing for an extra year, five Gamecocks – OL Eric Douglas, LB Brad Johnson, DB R.J. Roderick, WR Josh Vann and OL Dylan Wonnum – can become five-year letterwinners.

TOTING THE SHEEPSKIN: The Gamecocks have 21 players on the active roster who will have their college degrees in hand prior to the start of the 2022 football season. Twelve players who wore the SEC Graduate patch in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl return for the 2022 season. That list includes Wyatt Campbell, Eric Douglas, Sherrod Greene, Brad Johnson, Tyreek Johnson, Dakereon Joyner, Hank Manos, Darius Rush, Jordan Strachan, Chad Terrell, M.J. Webb and Dylan Wonnum. Two players, Jovaughn Gwyn and Jaylen Nichols, graduated in May. Traevon Kenion and R.J. Roderick graduated in August. In addition, Nate Adkins (East Tennessee State), Christian Beal-Smith (Wake Forest), Dante Miller, (Columbia) Devonni Reed (Central Michigan and Austin Stogner (Oklahoma) have degrees from other institutions.

YOU’RE MONEY’S NO GOOD HERE: Wide receiver Payton Mangrum was awarded the Jake Panus scholarship prior to the start of the fall semester. Mangrum has been a regular on special teams and has also been on the SEC Academic Honor Roll. Matthew Bailey was the 2021 recipient.

NO BUENO: Sixth-year tight end Chad Terrell suffered an ACL injury during the Gamecocks’ first scrimmage of preseason camp and will miss the entire 2022 season. It was the third ACL Terrell has suffered during his Gamecock career.

SEEING DOUBLE: Redshirt senior Wyatt Campbell is an offensive lineman by trade and wears No. 68, but has also been used at tight end where he dons No. 80.

IN THE POLLS: The Gamecocks received two votes in the Associated Press poll this week and six votes in the AFCA Coaches poll. The last time they received votes was after the upset win at Georgia in 2019 which improved their record to 3-3.

BEATING A RANKED OPPONENT: South Carolina’s last win over a ranked opponent came in the 2020 season when they knocked off 15th-ranked Auburn in Columbia by a 30-22 score. The Gamecocks last road win over a ranked opponent came in 2019 when they upset No. 3 Georgia by 20-17 score in double-overtime in Athens. Carolina is just 1-8 in their last nine games against a team ranked in the Associated Press Top-25. Shane Beamer is 0-2 as a head coach against Top-25 teams, falling at No. 2 Georgia and at No. 17 Texas A&M during the 2021 campaign.

UP NEXT: The Gamecocks return home to host the defending national champion Georgia Bulldogs at Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 17. Game time is set for noon ET and the contest will be televised nationally on ESPN. Georgia leads the all-time series 53-19-2, including a 22-10-2 advantage when the game has been played in Columbia. Georgia has won the last two and six of the last seven meetings, with Carolina’s lone win in that stretch coming in Athens in 2019 by a 20-17 count in double overtime.

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