Gamecocks Host Texas A&M Saturday Night
Setting The Stage
The Bonham Trophy is on the line during State Fair week in Columbia as the South Carolina Gamecocks (4-2, 1-2 SEC) open the second half of the 2022 season by hosting the Texas A&M Aggies (3-3, 1-2 SEC) on Saturday, Oct. 22. Game time from Williams-Brice Stadium (77,559) is set for 7:39 pm and the contest will be televised by SEC Network. Tom Hart (play-by-play) and Jordan Rodgers (analyst) will be in the booth while Cole Cubelic works the sidelines for the network.
THE SERIES: This is the ninth gridiron meeting between South Carolina and Texas A&M. The Gamecocks are still looking for their first win over their “permanent” SEC Western Division rival from College Station. The two schools met for the first time in 2014 in Columbia, with A&M posting a 52-28 win in the season opener for both teams. The Aggies own a 4-0 record against the Gamecocks both in Columbia and in College Station. Three of the eight games have been decided by seven points or less.
THE BONHAM TROPHY: Amateur historian Richard Peterson, a USC Broadcasting Journalism graduate and previous resident of Alamo Heights in San Antonio, Texas, recommended “The Governor’s Trophy” to be named after James Butler Bonham, Hero of the Alamo and himself an Alum of The University of South Carolina. Peterson and Katon Dawson took the idea to then Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina and a new tradition was born. “The Bonham Trophy” is exchanged between the Governors of South Carolina and Texas with the winner taking possession of the Bonham Trophy of “Western Artwork,” created by renowned Texas sculptor Jeff Gottfried, and displayed at the victorious State Capital, University or any location the Governor may choose. Two weeks after the Game, The Bonham Trophy is returned for permanent display at The Alamo until the next South Carolina – Texas A&M football game.
DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS: Carolina is 3-12 all-time against teams from the Lone Star State, going 1-0 against Texas, 1-2 versus both Baylor and Houston, and 0-8 against Texas A&M. The Gamecocks have made four trips to College Station in the last eight years. Prior to the 2015 meeting, South Carolina had not ventured into the state of Texas since dropping an 18-17 decision to Baylor in Waco on Oct. 2, 1976.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: Ainias Smith had a 95-yard punt return for a touchdown and Jalen Wydermyer added two TD catches as No. 17 Texas A&M built a huge first-half lead and coasted to a 44-14 win over South Carolina on Oct. 23, 2021 in College Station. The Aggies held a 31-0 lead at the intermission and 41-0 after three quarters. The Gamecocks scored two fourth quarter touchdowns, but gained just 185 yards on the night, compared to 477 for the Aggies. For more on that game, please turn to page 8 of these game notes.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET IN COLUMBIA: No. 7 Texas A&M rolled to a 48-3 win over South Carolina in Columbia on Nov. 7, 2020. The Aggies scored touchdowns on seven of 10 possessions, while holding a 530-150 advantage in yards and a 38:21-21:39 lead in time of possession. For more on that game, please turn to page 9 of these game notes.
TEXAS TIES: The Gamecocks have four players from the state of Texas. Cam Hardy is from Frisco (Reedy High School), Landon Samson is from Southlake (Southlake Carroll), Austin Stogner is from Plano (Prestonwood Christian) and Peyton Williams is from Heath (Rockwall-Heath HS).
A South Carolina win over Texas A&M would…
* Be the Gamecocks’ first win in nine tries against their “permanent” SEC Western Division opponent from College Station.
* Extend the Gamecocks’ winning streak to four-straight games. That would mark their longest winning streak since winning the final six games of the 2013 season.
* Give the Gamecocks’ five wins in their first seven games for the first time since the 2017 season.
* Improve the Gamecocks’ record to 15-3 coming off a bye week since the start of the 2009 season.
Weekly Press Conference: Texas A&M
THE LAST TIME OUT: South Carolina went into a sold-out Kroger Field in Lexington and handed the 13th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats a 24-14 setback on Oct. 8. MarShawn Lloyd rushed for 110 yards on 22 carries and Spencer Rattler completed 14-of-19 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown. The Gamecocks took the lead just 13 seconds into the contest and never trailed. The game was deadlocked at 7 at the intermission, but Carolina scored the next 17 points to earn the upset win. The Gamecock defense held UK to just 299 total yards.
THEY CALL IT A STREAK: The win at Kentucky marked the Gamecocks’ third-straight win. It’s their longest winning streak since posting three-consecutive victories over Arkansas, Tennessee and Vanderbilt in the middle of the 2017 season. They have not won four in a row since capping the 2013 season with six-consecutive victories.
NOTABLE WIN: The win at Kentucky marked the first win over a ranked opponent in the Shane Beamer Era at South Carolina. It was the Gamecocks’ first win over a ranked opponent since defeating Auburn in 2020 and the first win over a ranked opponent on the road since handing third-ranked Georgia a 20-17 double-overtime defeat in 2019.
NATIONAL RECOGNITION: Following the upset win at No. 13 Kentucky, South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer was selected as the Dodd Trophy National Coach of the Week.
SEC P-O-W: Senior offensive lineman Jovaughn Gwyn was selected as the SEC’s Offensive Lineman of the Week for his performance against Kentucky. Gwyn graded out at 88 percent in the contest. It was the second time he has been honored by the SEC, as he was the co-Offensive Lineman of the Week after the Gamecocks’ win over No. 15 Auburn in 2020.
LLOYD GOES FOR 100: For the second time in three games, running back MarShawn Lloyd eclipsed 100 yards rushing with a 22-carry, 110-yard, 1-touchdown performance at Kentucky. Included was a 45-yard burst which set up the final score of the game. Lloyd went for a career-high 169 yards against Charlotte earlier this season.
SACK THIS: The Gamecocks recorded a season-high six sacks in the win at Kentucky. Jordan Burch (1.5), Tonka Hemingway (1.5), Gilber Edmond (1.0), Sherrod Greene (1.0) and Zacch Pickens (1.0) all got in on the action. Carolina entered the contest with just four sacks through the first five games before the sack party at Kentucky.
BLOCK THAT KICK: Carolina recorded its fifth blocked punt of the season at Kentucky, with King-Demenian Ford notching his second of the year. The Gamecocks blocked two punts vs. Georgia State and South Carolina State and lead the country with a school-record five blocked punts.
MORE BLOCKAGE: The Gamecocks have five blocked kicks this season and nine blocked kicks in 19 games in the Shane Beamer and Pete Lembo Era. The five blocked punts in a season is a school record, while the five blocked kicks ties for the second-highest mark in school history, behind only the eight blocked kicks recorded in 1994.
FORCING TURNOVERS: In addition to the blocked punt, the Gamecocks recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass at Kentucky. After recording just one takeaway through the season’s first three games whle posting a 1-2 record, Carolina has recorded eight turnovers in its last three contests, all wins. The Gamecocks recorded back-to-back three-interception games against Charlotte and South Carolina State, marking the first time since 2013 that the Gamecocks have recorded three INTs in back-to-back games.
HELLO MR. SPAULDING: Safety David Spaulding returned to action for the first time since the season opener and came up big against Kentucky, bookending the game with turnovers. On the first play from scrimmage, Spaulding forced a fumble that was returned by Tonka Hemingway to the 2-yard line, setting up Carolina’s first score just 13 seconds into the contest. Spaulding then ended any Kentucky hopes with a pick on the Wildcats’ final drive and the Gamecocks ran out the clock for the win.
HANGIN’ HALF A HUNDRED: Carolina put 50 or more points on the scoreboard in back-to-back games against Charlotte (56-20) and South Carolina State (50-10). They were the first 50-point games since the Gamecocks scored 72 against Charleston Southern in 2019. It was the first time the Gamecocks have scored 50 or more points twice in a season since 2013 when they had 52 at Arkansas and 70 against Coastal Carolina. The last time South Carolina had posted back-to-back 50-point games came in 1995 when they scored 77 against Kent State, 65 at Mississippi State and 52 against Vanderbilt in consecutive games.
30 SOMETHING: The Gamecocks have tallied 30 or more points in four of six games this season. They scored 30 or more just three times in 13 games in 2021 and haven’t scored 30 or more points more than four times in a season since 2018 when they accomplished the feat seven times.
DEFENSE TAKES A STAND: Since Charlotte scored on touchdown drives in its first two possessions, the Gamecock defense has tightened up. The 49ers final eight possessions resulted in four punts, three interceptions, and a touchdown. After allowing 171 yards on Charlotte’s first two drives, Carolina surrendered just 121 the rest of the way. The Carolina defense then held South Carolina State to 10 points and 220 yards, including just 75 yards through the air on 7-of-18 passing with three interceptions, and limited Kentucky to just 14 points and 299 total yards.
PLAYING SHORT-HANDED: The Gamecocks were hit hard early in the season by the injury bug, especially on the defensive side of the ball. A pair of starters in edge rusher Jordan Strachan and linebacker Mohamed Kaba suffered season-ending ACL injuries at Arkansas. Safety R.J. Roderick was injured on the first series of the season and has missed all three conference games. Starting defensive tackle Alex Huntley has missed a pair of games with a knee injury, while defensive back David Spaulding missed three games with a lower leg injury. Cornerback Darius Rush suffered a hamstring injury against Georgia and missed two contests. Edge rusher Terrell Dawkins underwent knee surgery after the Georgia game and will be out for an extended period of time.
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 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 625-603-44, a .509 winning percentage.
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.
SUPER SENIORS: The Gamecocks list 10 players (not including transfers) whose eligibility would have expired 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 COVID 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 who have their college degrees in hand. Twelve players who wore the SEC Graduate patch in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl return for the 2022 season, including 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. 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.
LOOKING AHEAD: The Gamecocks host the Missouri Tigers next week in the annual battle for the Mayor’s Cup. Mizzou has won the last three head-to-head battles after Carolina had won three-straight from 2016-18. The Tigers lead the all-time series by a 7-5 count, but the Gamecocks hold a slim 3-2 advantage in Williams-Brice Stadium.