Both teams are coming off wins, as South Carolina routed Kentucky, 54-3, while Mississippi State won at UAB, 21-3, last Saturday. This is the first game of a three-game SEC road swing for Carolina.
Sophomore quarterback Connor Shaw was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts in last week's win over Kentucky. Making just his second career start, Shaw completed 26-of-39 passes for 311 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. He became the first Gamecock to throw four TDs in a game since 2006.
For the latest on Gamecock standouts Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery, check out the websites: MarcusLattimore21.com and AlshonJeffery1.com.
A LITTLE HISTORY: 2011 marks the 118th season of intercollegiate football at the University of South Carolina, dating back to 1892. It is the 105th-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 548-542-44. The 2011 season marks South Carolina's 20th year in the Southeastern Conference. The Gamecocks earned their first SEC Eastern Division title in the 2010 season.
THIS WEEK'S FOE: The Gamecocks travel to Starkville to face the Mississippi State Bulldogs. This is the first meeting between the two teams since the 2007 season. Mississippi State is 3-3 overall, 0-3 in the SEC. They are coached by Dan Mullen, who has a three-year record of 17-14. Last season, MSU went 9-4 overall and 4-4 in the SEC. They defeated Michigan, 52-14, in the Gator Bowl.
CAROLINA VS. MISSISSIPPI STATE: This is the 14th game in a series that dates back to 1992, South Carolina's first season in the SEC. The 21-6 win by the Gamecocks on Oct. 17, 1992, was Carolina's first-ever SEC win. The win that day also snapped a nine-game losing streak for Carolina. The Bulldogs won six of the next seven meetings between the two schools from 1993-99. South Carolina has bounced back with five straight wins - every time the two teams have meet in this millennium. Carolina leads the all-time series 7-6, including a 4-3 advantage in Columbia. The teams have split six games in Starkville evenly. Four of the first 13 games have featured a shutout, and only four have been decided by less than a touchdown. The 1995 game which produced 104 points in a South Carolina 65-39 win, remains the record for most combined points scored in a game played by the Gamecocks.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
* Alshon Jeffery (2,707) needs just 74 yards to match Kenny McKinley (2,781) as the school's all-time leader in receiving yards.
* Alshon Jeffery needs one touchdown catch to move into sole possession of second place on the school's all-time list for touchdown receptions. He is currently tied with Robert Brooks, Jermale Kelly and Kenny McKinley with 19, trailing only Sidney Rice's 23.
* Marcus Lattimore needs 24 rushing yards to become the 15th player in school history to rush for 2,000 yards in a career.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: Freshman Chris Smelley threw for a career-best 279 yards and two touchdowns to lead No. 16 South Carolina to a 38-21 win over Mississippi State on Sept. 29, 2007. Mike Davis scored three rushing touchdowns, including two in the final period, as Carolina scored the game's final 21 points to erase a 21-17 third quarter deficit. Kenny McKinley caught four passes for 107 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the contest. The Gamecocks rolled up 402 yards of offense while limiting Mississippi State to just 258, including 118 through the air.
THE LAST TIME IN STARKVILLE: Carolina opened up the 2006 season with a 15-0 shutout of the Bulldogs in Starkville. The Gamecocks limited State to 161 yards of total offense. The lone touchdown of the game came on a Syvelle Newton-to-Cory Boyd connection on a wide receiver throwback pass early in the fourth quarter. Ryan Succop added three field goals in the win.
THE HEAD BALL COACH: Steve Spurrier is in his seventh season directing the Gamecock football program. He has logged a 49-34 mark in Columbia. The Head Ball Coach ranks second on the school's all-time wins list and second in games coached at South Carolina. He is the first coach to have a career winning record at Carolina since Joe Morrison (39-28-2) patrolled the sidelines from 1983-88. Spurrier owns a 191-74-2 mark as a collegiate head coach, with stops at Duke and Florida before his stint at South Carolina. He is signed through the 2014 season.
SPURRIER VS. STATE: South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier owns a 6-2 all-time record against Mississippi State, including a 2-0 mark as head coach at South Carolina. He has won each of his last three outings against the Bulldogs, two by shutout, outscoring MSU by a 105-21 margin. His teams have scored at least 29 points in six of the eight meetings. For a game-by-game listing, please refer to page 18 of these notes.
ROAD WARRIORS: The Gamecocks have matched a school record by winning their last four "true" road games on their opponents' home field. The Gamecocks won at Vanderbilt, Florida and Clemson to wrap up the 2010 season, then won at Georgia this season. The only other time they posted four consecutive road wins occurred in 1914 (Wofford and Newberry) and 1915 (North Carolina A&M and Wofford).
ABOUT LAST WEEK: The Gamecocks re-wrote many of their records under Steve Spurrier in rolling up an impressive 54-3 win over Kentucky at Williams-Brice Stadium last Saturday afternoon. After spotting the Wildcats an early 3-0 lead, Carolina dominated the rest of the contest, piling up 639 yards and 32 first downs to just 96 yards and six first downs for the Wildcats. Sophomore quarterback Connor Shaw completed 26-of-39 passes for 311 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions in just his second career start. Marcus Lattimore added 102 yards on the ground on 22 carries. Alshon Jeffery caught six passes for 95 yards and two scores. The Gamecock defense forced six turnovers, including four interceptions, and held Kentucky to just four completions in 26 attempts for 17 yards passing.
MORE IMPRESSIVE NUMBERS:
* The 51-point margin of victory over Kentucky was the largest margin for South Carolina against an SEC opponent and was its largest margin of victory since defeating Kent State by 63 points in 1995.
* The Gamecocks rolled up 639 yards of offense against Kentucky, falling just shy of the school record of 656 yards against Vanderbilt in 2001.
* The 32 first downs recorded by South Carolina fell two shy of the school record of 34, set twice previously: vs. Mississippi State in 1995 and matched against Vanderbilt in 2001.
IN THE POLLS: The Gamecocks opened the 2011 season ranked 12th in both major polls. It's the highest Carolina had been ranked to start a season in school history. Previously, they had been ranked six times in the preseason poll by the Associated Press. They were No. 14 in 1959, No. 17 in both 1970 and 1985; 19th in 1988, 21st in 2001 and 22nd in 2002. They moved up three spots to number 15 in the A.P. poll and climbed one spot to No. 13 in the Coaches' poll following the lopsided win over Kentucky.
DEFENSE STEPS UP: After surrendering 79 points in the season's first two games (East Carolina-37; Georgia-42), the Carolina defense has stepped it up. The Gamecocks have allowed 43 points over the last four contests (Navy-21; Vanderbilt-3; Auburn-16; Kentucky-3), an average of 10.8 points per game. Their opponents' scoring average has dipped from 39.5 points per game after two games to just 20.3 points per game.
TOP-10 D: After holding both Vanderbilt (77) and Kentucky (96) to under 100 yards of total offense in the last three games, South Carolina has moved into the nation's Top-10 in total defense.
NOT BY AIR: The Gamecock pass defense has dramatically improved statistically over the start of the season. The Gamecocks currently lead the SEC and rank third in the country in pass defense, allowing just 128.5 yards per game through the air.
TURN IT OVER: The Gamecocks are tied with Rutgers atop the nation in turnovers gained with 22. Carolina is tied for first in the country with 10 fumbles recovered (with Michigan, Rutgers and San Diego State) and is tied for second with 12 interceptions (with NC State, Ohio and Rutgers, trailing only Vanderbilt's 14).
PICK THIS: The Gamecocks have a dozen interceptions this season, including four in each of their last two games against Auburn and Kentucky.
RECORD PACE: The Gamecocks are on pace for their best season under head coach Steve Spurrier in gaining turnovers, with 22 turnovers forced through six games. The school record for turnovers forced in a season is 39, set in the 12-game 1987 campaign.
LEADERS OF THE PACK: The trio of Antonio Allen, Melvin Ingram, and Jadeveon Clowney are the ringleaders in forcing the turnovers. Allen has three interceptions (T6th-SEC, T17th-NCAA), three fumble recoveries (T1st-SEC; T5th-NCAA) and three forced fumbles (T2nd-SEC; T12th-NCAA); Ingram has two interceptions and a fumble recovery; Clowney has three forced fumbles (T2nd-SEC; T12th-NCAA).
WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS: The Carolina defense and special teams have been responsible for six touchdowns this season. Defensive end Melvin Ingram has scored three times, a 68-yard run on a fake punt and a five-yard fumble return, both at Georgia, and a fumble recovery in the end zone against Vanderbilt; Spur Antonio Allen has scored twice, a 25-yard fumble return against ECU and a 25-yard interception return against Georgia; and Ace Sanders scored on a 68-yard punt return against East Carolina. The Gamecocks scored six defensive touchdowns all last season.
HERE THEY COME: Led by Melvin Ingram's 3.5 sacks, the Gamecocks recorded five sacks against Auburn and have 11 sacks in their last three contests. Carolina leads the SEC with 13 sacks through six games. They had a school record 41 sacks last season.
SACK ATTACK: Melvin Ingram leads the SEC and is tied for 11th in the country with 0.92 sacks per game (5.5 total), while freshman Jadeveon Clowney is tied for second in the SEC with 4.0 sacks. With 17.0 career sacks, Ingram ranks fourth on Carolina's all-time list behind only Eric Norwood (29.0), Andrew Provence (26.0) and John Abraham (23.5).
AMONG THE BEST: Marcus Lattimore checks in as the nation's sixth-leading rusher this week with 779 yards in six games, an average of 129.8 yards per game.
GETTING MORE FROM LATTI: Sophomore tailback Marcus Lattimore had the best game of his career when he carried 37 times for 246 yards against Navy earlier this season. The 246-yard performance ranks as the fourth-best in school history. He has carried 37 or more times three times during his career, including a school record 40 totes at Florida last season. He has four 100-yard rushing games this season (also 112 vs. East Carolina, 176 at Georgia and 102 vs. Kentucky) and eight in his 19-game career, with five of the eight going for 175 or more. The great Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers played 27 games before registering his eighth-career 100-yard rushing game. Lattimore has nine rushing touchdowns this season and 26 in his career, tying Jeff Grantz for fifth on the all-time list, just five away from the top spot. With 29 career touchdowns (including three receiving), he ranks third in career touchdowns in school history and is just four away from the record co-held by George Rogers and Harold Green.
MISCELLANEOUS ON MARCUS:
* In the year of the running back in the SEC, Marcus Lattimore leads the conference in rushing with an average of 129.8 yards per game.
* Lattimore is second in the SEC and tied for 12th in the nation in points per game, averaging 10.0 per contest on his 10 touchdowns in six games.
* Lattimore has scored 10 of Carolina's 24 offensive touchdowns this season.
* Lattimore ranks first in the SEC in all-purpose yards (rushing, receiving, punt returns and kickoff returns) at 155.3 yards per game.
* Lattimore has four 100-yard rushing games this season and eight in his career. He ranks in a tie for seventh on the South Carolina list for 100-yard rushing games in a career with Jay Lynn Hodgin and Clarence Williams.
* Lattimore has garnered 61 percent of the Carolina rushing yards this season and has scored nine of the 15 rushing touchdowns.
* Lattimore is the Gamecocks' second-leading receiver with 16 catches for 153 yards, including the season's longest reception of 52 yards.
THE SHAW SHOW: Sophomore quarterback Connor Shaw made just his second career start against Kentucky and responded with an SEC Offensive Player of the Week performance. The 6-1, 204-pounder from Flowery Branch, Ga., completed 26-of-39 passes for 311 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. The four touchdown passes was the most for a Gamecock quarterback since Blake Mitchell in 2006. Prior to that performance, Shaw had completed 27-of-44 passes for 252 yards with one touchdown and two picks in 11 career contests. He got the nod as the starter in the 2011 season opener against East Carolina and completed 3-of-9 passes for 21 yards and rushed seven times for 26 yards. He also saw limited action this season in the win over Vanderbilt.
BROTHER ACT: South Carolina's Connor Shaw and Georgia Southern's Jaybo Shaw, make a rare pair of brothers that are starting quarterbacks on their respective college teams. Other recent quarterbacking brother acts in college football include the Mannings (Payton and Eli), Detmers (Ty and Koy), Hasselbecks (Matt and Tim), McCowns (Randy, Josh, and Luke), Huards (Damon, Luke and Brock), Vicks (Michael and Marcus), Glennons (Sean and Mike), Forciers (Jason, Chris and Tate) and Weatherfords (Drew and Joe).
POINT PRODUCTION: The Gamecocks are averaging 35.5 points per game through six contests. In 2010, they set the school record for points in a season when they tallied 433, an average of 30.9 points per game. The Gamecocks have given up the first score in all six games this season (and in nine straight contests overall) and have been outscored 29-20 in the first stanza, but have outscored their opponents 65-37 in the second period, 69-21 in the third quarter and 59-35 in the fourth quarter. 128 of their 213 points (61 percent) have come after the break.
TRENDING ALSHON: Biletnikoff candidate Alshon Jeffery has been "held" to somewhat modest numbers in the first six games. The junior wideout leads the team with 25 catches for 427 yards, an average of 17.1 yards per catch. He is tied for fifth in the SEC in receptions per game (4.2) and is fifth in receiving yards per game (71.2). Nineteen of his 25 receptions have resulted in a first down. He owns four of the nine touchdown receptions this season. He logged five catches for 92 yards against ECU and came back with five catches for 85 yards and a touchdown at Georgia. He was limited to just two catches for 35 and 34 yards in each of the next two games, against Navy and Vanderbilt, respectively, his fewest receptions in a game since South Carolina State held him to two catches in 2009. He came back with five catches for 86 yards against Auburn, including a 50-yard TD reception, and season highs with six catches, 95 yards and two touchdowns last week against Kentucky. He has caught at least one pass in 29 straight games. Jeffery has vaulted past Sterling Sharpe (2,497) into second place on the all-time receiving yards list in South Carolina history with 2,707 yards, trailing only Kenny McKinley (2,781). He is tied with Sidney Rice for the most 100-yard receiving games in school history with 11.
BRUCE ALMIGHTY: Redshirt freshman wide receiver Bruce Ellington has made an impact on the gridiron after doing so on the hardwood last winter. Ellington is Carolina's top kick returner, averaging 22.7 yards (ninth in the SEC) on 10 returns. He also worked out of the "Wildcat" formation, rushing seven times for 66 yards, including a 61-yard touchdown burst against Kentucky. As a wideout, he has caught eight passes for 97 yards (12.1 per catch), including three for 60 yards against Auburn. The 5-9, 197-pounder from Moncks Corner, S.C. was the starting point guard for the Gamecocks' basketball team as a freshman. He earned a spot on the SEC All-Freshman team after leading the squad with a 12.8 points per game average. He started all 30 games for a squad that went 14-16. He is expected to rejoin the basketball team at the conclusion of the football season. He was a standout prep athlete in both sports for Berkeley High.
STARTS ON THE LINE: The Gamecocks used the same starting five along the offensive line in each of the four games this season. In game five versus Auburn, true freshman Mike Matulis made the start at left tackle for the injured Kyle Nunn (lower back), and against Kentucky, redshirt freshman Cody Gibson got the nod at right tackle with Rokevious Watkins moving to left tackle to replace Nunn. The O-line has combined for 100 starts. Center T.J. Johnson leads the way with 33, followed by tackles Nunn (20) and Watkins (20). Sixth-year senior guard Terrence Campbell has made 19 starts. Redshirt freshman guard A.J. Cann has started all six games this season. Watkins is considered the best of the group by most, while Johnson is a Rimington candidate.
TAKING THE FIFTH (AND THE SIXTH): Linebacker Rodney Paulk and offensive guard Terrence Campbell were both granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA. Paulk earned second-team Freshman All-America honors from Sporting News as a freshman in 2006. He ranked fourth on the squad with 64 tackles during his sophomore season in 2007. Paulk injured his knee in August of 2008 and saw limited action in the first four games of that campaign before sitting out of the remainder of the season. He was granted his first medical redshirt following the season. In 2009, Paulk suffered a season-ending knee injury in the season-opening win at NC State, and was granted his second medical redshirt. He sat out the spring drills in 2010 while continuing his rehab work, and returned to the field in August. Paulk graduated in December with a degree in marine science. Campbell also came to Carolina in 2006, but suffered a season-ending knee injury early in his first camp and was granted a medical redshirt. He played in one game as a defensive lineman in 2007 before moving to the offensive side of the ball. He was a regular at right guard in 2008 then, after starting the first two games of the 2009 season, he suffered a neck/shoulder stinger that sidelined him for the remainder of the season and earned him a second medical redshirt season. He played sporadically in `10 but returns as a probable starter in 2011. Campbell earned his degree in retail in May. Paulk and Campbell are the second and third Gamecocks to have a sixth year of eligibility granted in the Spurrier Era, joining former tight end Andy Boyd.
BIG PLAY INGRAM: Senior defensive end Melvin Ingram is turning in an All-America season with big play after big play. He leads the SEC in sacks with 5.5 and is tied for fourth in tackles for loss with 7.5. Here's what he's done game-by-game:
East Carolina: Recorded his first career interception.
Georgia: Named the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week and National Defensive Player of the Week by Rivals.com after scoring twice... ran a fake punt 68 yards for a touchdown and scooped and scored on a fumble recovery that sealed the win... was only the third Division I player since 2006 to score an offensive and defensive touchdown in the same game.
Navy: Collected eight tackles.
Vanderbilt: Had 3.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks and fell on a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown, earning SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Auburn: Credited with a career-high 11 tackles including 4.5 TFL and 3.5 sacks... also intercepted a pass... despite the loss, named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week for the second straight week.
Kentucky: Played sparingly after not practicing all week with a sprained foot.
ALLEN SPURS D: While many other Gamecock defenders receive the accolades, senior Spur Antonio Allen is having a stellar of a final campaign. He leads the team in tackles with 50 (8.3 per game) which ranks tied for fifth in the SEC. He is tied for second in the SEC and is tied for 12th in the country with three forced fumbles, is tied for the SEC lead and is tied for fifth in the nation with three fumble recoveries, and is tied for fifth in the league with three interceptions. Allen had the best game of his career in the season opener against East Carolina. He logged a game-high 16 tackles, doubling his previous career high, and the most for a Gamecock since Jonathan Martin had 17 at LSU in 2002. Allen also forced two fumbles and recovered a pair, including a strip that he took 25 yards to paydirt. He came back with six tackles against Georgia and intercepted a pass, returning it 25 yards for a score. He led the team with 10 tackles in the win over Navy, was credited with a forced fumble and sealed the game with an interception in the final minute. He had four tackles and a fumble recovery in the win over Vanderbilt. He led the team with 13 tackles with 3.0 TFL and an interception against Auburn.
SEND IN THE CLOWNEY: Freshman sensation Jadeveon Clowney was in the starting lineup against ECU, the first true freshman to start on the D-line at Carolina since Travian Robertson in 2007. Clowney finished the opener with seven tackles, a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry. At Georgia, he was credited with just two tackles, but both were sacks, the first two of his career, including one late in the game that forced a fumble that Melvin Ingram scooped and scored, sealing the win. He had three stops against Navy, including a half-tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry. He had a pair of sacks and forced two fumbles in the win over Vanderbilt. For the season, he is second in the SEC with 4.0 sacks, is tied for eighth with 6.0 tackles for loss, and is tied for second with three fumbles forced.
SHAQ IS BACK: The Gamecocks welcome the return of linebacker Shaq Wilson. Wilson led the team in tackles as a sophomore in 2009, but saw action in just one game last season, due to a hamstring injury suffered the first day of preseason drills. He played in the regular season game at Auburn and accounted for seven tackles and recovered two fumbles, but re-aggravated the hamstring injury and did not play again. He has 23 tackles in six games this season.
IN THE SECONDARY: The Gamecocks feature a talented group in the secondary, led by All-SEC performer and third-team All-American Stephon Gilmore. Gilmore led the team in tackles a season ago with 79. He logged 10 tackles in the opener against East Carolina. He had four stops against Georgia, and also scooped up a fumble and rambled 56 yards, setting up a Carolina score. He had his first pick of the season against Vanderbilt and added a second against Kentucky. D.J. Swearinger is the other awards candidate in the secondary. He is considered the hardest hitter in the defensive backfield and recorded 66 tackles last year. He had seven stops against Georgia and is second on the team with 30 tackles.
GILMORE DOES IT ALL: Gamecock cornerback Stephon Gilmore was one of only six players to earn first-team All-SEC honors by either the Associated Press or Coaches and also be named to the 2010 Fall Academic Honor Roll. The others were Alabama offensive guard Barrett Jones, Florida punter Chas Henry, Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy, Auburn center Ryan Pugh and Mississippi State offensive tackle Derek Sherrod.
DOUBLE DIGITS TACKLES: Antonio Allen (16) and Stephon Gilmore (10) were both credited with double digits in tackles against East Carolina. Allen logged another 10 in the win over Navy, and three players (Allen -13, Reginald Bowens-11 and Melvin Ingram-11) all eclipsed the double figure total against Auburn. Interestingly, no Gamecock had 10 or more tackles in a game during the 2010 season.
COMING UP ACES: Sophomore Ace Sanders returned just one punt against East Carolina, but it paid big dividends, as he scooted 68 yards for a score. It was the first kickoff or punt return for a touchdown for the Gamecocks during the Steve Spurrier Era, and was a nice way for new special teams coach John Butler to get started. Sanders became the first Gamecock to return a punt for a TD since Chavez Donnings went 73 yards against Florida in 2003.
HARD TO BELIEVE BUT...: Ace Sanders' 68-yard punt return against ECU gave the Gamecocks three more yards in punt returns than they had during the entire 14-game season of 2010. Last year Sanders, Stephon Gilmore and the "Team" combined on 19 punt returns for just 65 yards.
WOOTEN WOWS `EM: Senior Jay Wooten has been solid this season, hitting on 27-of-29 of his extra point attempts and nailing four of his six fields goal attempts - the difference in two games - with a 49-yarder at Georgia and a 48-yarder versus Navy. Oddly, all six attempts have come between 40 and 49 yards out. The senior from Laurinburg, N.C., has previous experience, as he kicked for North Carolina during the 2008 season, going 4-for-6 in field attempts and was successful on all 11 extra point tries. He is averaging 6.5 points per game, tied for eighth among the kickers in the SEC.
THE PUNTER: Joey Scribner-Howard, a senior from Irmo who gained experience kicking for Carson-Newman College in 2007 and `08 and as a kickoff specialist for Carolina in 2010, won the punting duties in fall camp and averaged 31.8 yards on four punts in the opener, but did not allow any return yardage. He upped his game at Georgia, averaging 44.8 yards per punt on six punts, including a career-long 59 yarder and three inside the 20. He did not enter the game against Navy, as Carolina was not forced to punt, but the layoff did not hurt him, as he averaged 46.3 yards on three punts with a long of 56 against Vanderbilt. He had another 59-yarder against Auburn. He ranks eighth in the SEC with a 41.0 yards per punt average.
COMEBACK KIDS: The Gamecocks have not scored first in a game this season and have posted two come-from-behind fourth quarter wins. Previously, South Carolina had won only three games in fourth quarter, come-from-behind fashion during the Spurrier Era. Here are the specifics of the fourth-quarter rallies:
2005: SC trails at Tennessee, 15-13 after a UT field goal with 7:39 to play. Carolina gets 49-yard field goal from Josh Brown to win, 16-15.
2008: SC trails 17-14 at Kentucky after three quarters. Ryan Succop kicks a 42-yard field goal to tie it at the 11:58 mark, then Weslye Saunders catches a 7-yard pass from Stephen Garcia with 7:08 remaining for the 24-17 win.
2009: SC trails Vanderbilt 10-7 after three quarters. Stephen Garcia connects with Alshon Jeffery on a 43-yard touchdown pass with 12:51 left on the clock in a 14-10 win.
2011: SC trails 35-31 after a Georgia touchdown with 6:28 to play. Marcus Lattimore gives the Gamecocks the lead at the 3:28 mark, then Melvin Ingram scoops and scores on a fumble recovery in a 45-42 win.
2011: SC trails Navy, 21-17 after three quarters, but Marcus Lattimore scores from 7-yards out with 12:45 to play and the Gamecock defense limits Navy to 35 yards in the final stanza for the win. Navy had been 24-0 under head coach Ken Niumatalolo when leading after three quarters.
GOOD HOME COOKIN': The Gamecocks have done a good job of protecting their home turf of late. In each of the past two seasons (2009 and `10), Carolina posted a 6-1 home record. The only losses in those years came to top-ranked Florida in 2009 and to 17th-ranked Arkansas in 2010. South Carolina is 2-1 at home this season, losing to defending national champion Auburn, and is 17-3 in its last 20 home games.
LEADING THE WAY: Center T.J. Johnson and cornerback Stephon Gilmore have started every game since the beginning of the 2009 season. They have each started 32 consecutive games.
IT'S A NUMBERS GAME: The Gamecocks returned 81 percent of their rushing yards, 100 percent of their passing yards and 79 percent of their receiving yards from a year ago. In addition, eight of the squad's top 10 tacklers return for the 2011 campaign.
SQUAD BREAKDOWN: The Gamecocks have 110 players listed on their roster. The squad breakdown consists of 15 seniors, 26 juniors, 19 sophomores, 14 redshirt freshmen and 36 true freshmen.
FIRST START: Fifteen Gamecocks have made their first career starts this season. Six Gamecocks made their first career collegiate starts in the opener against East Carolina, including Reginald Bowens, A.J. Cann, Jadeveon Clowney, Jimmy Legree, Connor Shaw and Dalton Wilson. In the Georgia contest, Aldrick Fordham and Ace Sanders both made their initial collegiate start. Lamar Scruggs made his first collegiate start against Navy. Damiere Byrd, Nick Jones and Mike Matulis all made their first start against Auburn. Rory Anderson, Cody Gibson and Chaz Sutton each made his first career start against Kentucky.
FIRST ACTION: Eleven true freshmen have seen action for South Carolina this season. That list included Rory Anderson, Damiere Byrd, Shon Carson, Jadeveon Clowney, Kyle Harris, Kadetrix Marcus, Mike Matulis, Kelcy Quarles, Brandon Shell, Brandon Wilds and Brison Williams.
THEY PAY TO SEE THE GAMECOCKS PLAY: South Carolina averaged 76,668 fans for its seven games at Williams-Brice Stadium last season, ranking 18th in the nation in average home attendance. The largest crowd came on Oct. 9 as 82,993 fans packed Williams-Brice Stadium to witness the historic Gamecock upset of No. 1 Alabama. That crowd was the 19th-largest in Williams-Brice Stadium history and the most since 83,704 were on hand for the Gamecocks' contest against then-No. 2 Georgia in 2008. The Gamecocks are averaging 78,357 through four home games of the 2011 season, which ranks 16th in the country. The Florida and Clemson games have already been declared sellouts.
WORKING OVERTIME: The Gamecocks have played just two overtime games in their history, both at Tennessee. They dropped a 23-20 decision in Knoxville on Sept. 27, 2003, then fell by a 27-24 score on Oct. 27, 2007, at Neyland Stadium. Every other SEC team has played at least four overtime games since the rule was established in 1996.
UP NEXT: The Gamecocks will enjoy their lone off week of the season next week before they return to action on Oct. 29 when they travel to Knoxville to face the Tennessee Volunteers. Tennessee leads the all-time series, 22-5-2, but Carolina has won two of the last three and and teams have split the last six meetings evenly. The Gamecocks were 38-24 winners last season in Columbia, while Tennessee won the last meeting in Knoxville, 31-13, in 2009.