Opponent: East Carolina
Date: Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012
Kickoff: 12:21 p.m. ET
Location: Columbia, S.C.
Stadium: Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250)
Address: 1125 George Rogers Blvd., Columbia SC 29201
Series: South Carolina leads 11-5
TV: SEC Network
Radio: 107.5 FM (Flagship) & IMG Network
The South Carolina Gamecocks (1-0, 1-0 SEC) open the home portion of the 2012 season on Saturday, Sept. 8, when they host the East Carolina Pirates (1-0, 0-0 C-USA) in a 12:21 p.m. start at Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250) in Columbia. The game will be televised regionally on the SEC Network with Dave Neal and Andre Ware in the booth and Cara Capuano working the sidelines.
The South Carolina Gamecocks (1-0) and East Carolina Pirates (1-0) are meeting for the second straight year and for the 17th time overall. Carolina holds an 11-5 advantage in the all-time series that dates back to 1977, including an 8-4 mark at Williams-Brice Stadium. South Carolina posted a 56-37 win in the season opener last year in Charlotte, the only neutral site game in the series. Both teams won its season opener, with Carolina topping Vanderbilt, 17-13, and ECU outscoring Appalachian State, 35-13.
The Gamecocks have won five straight games (Florida, Citadel, Clemson, Nebraska, Vanderbilt) dating back to last season. It's their longest winning streak since a six-game stretch over the final three games of the 2006 season (Middle Tennessee, Clemson and Houston) and the first three games of the 2007 campaign (Louisiana-Lafayette, Georgia, South Carolina State. The school record for consecutive wins is nine, set in 1984.
The Gamecocks are looking to start the season 2-0 for the third straight year and for the fourth time (also 2007) in eight seasons under head coach Steve Spurrier.
South Carolina posted a 17-13 win at Vanderbilt in its season opener on August 30. The Gamecocks have won 13 consecutive season-opening games, dating back to the 2000 season. The mark for consecutive season-opening wins is 19, set from 1920-1938. The win improved Carolina to 79-36-4 (.681) in 119 season openers.
Marcus Lattimore was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Week for the fourth time in his career for his 110-yard, two-touchdown effort at Vanderbilt.
A LITTLE HISTORY: 2012 marks the 119th season of intercollegiate football at the University of South Carolina, dating back to 1892. It is the 106th-consecutive year in which South Carolina has competed on the gridiron. The university did not field a team in either 1893 or 1906. Carolina is 12 games over the .500 mark with an all-time record of 555-543-44. The Gamecocks were nine games under .500 until head coach Steve Spurrier took the reins in 2005, but are 21 games over since.
VS. EAST CAROLINA: The Gamecocks lead the all-time series versus East Carolina by an 11-5 margin. South Carolina won each of the first eight meetings between the two squads from 1977-1990. ECU won five of the next seven contests through the end of the 20th century. The Gamecock posted a come-from-behind 56-37 win in last year's season opener in Charlotte. ECU has come away with a win each of the last four times it has visited Williams-Brice Stadium.
POINTS A PLENTY: The scoreboard operator has been busy on several occasions when these two teams have hooked up previously. In fact, two of the top four combined points games in South Carolina history have come against ECU, including a Pirate 56-42 win in Columbia in 1994 and last year's Gamecock 56-37 victory in Charlotte. The winning team has tallied 30 or more points in nine of the previous 16 meetings.
MOST POINTS COMBINED
RK Points Game Date
1. 104 at Miss State (65-39) 10/14/95
2. 98 vs East Carolina (42-56) 10/08/94
3. 93 vs Troy (69-24) 11/20/10
93 vs East Carolina (56-37) 09/03/11
5. 91 Two occasions
SPURRIER VS. ECU: Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier is 1-0 in his career against East Carolina, a 56-37 win in Charlotte to kick off the 2011 campaign.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: The No. 12/12 Gamecocks used a huge third quarter rally to overcome four first half turnovers and pull away for a 56-37 win over East Carolina in the season opener for both schools on Sept. 3, 2011 in Charlotte. The Gamecocks fell behind by a 17-0 score, but used a 42-point second half to avoid the upset. Marcus Lattimore rushed 23 times for 112 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Gamecocks. Carolina also got a defensive score from Antonio Allen and a special teams touchdown on a punt return from Ace Sanders. For more on the game, see page 10 of these game notes.
THE LAST TIME IN COLUMBIA: East Carolina came into Columbia on Sept. 18, 1999 and left with a 21-3 win. South Carolina scored first in the contest on a Steve Florio 34-yard field goal, but trailed 7-3 at the intermission. Jamie Wilson rushed for 145 yards, while David Garrard hit on 10-of-19 passes and scored a rushing touchdown for ECU. Derek Watson led the Gamecocks with 74 yards rushing while Phil Petty hit on 12-of-31 passes for 134 yards with three interceptions. East Carolina has won each of the last four times they've played at Williams-Brice Stadium, with Carolina's last home win coming by a 37-7 score in 1990.
OUT OF THEIR LEAGUE: The Gamecocks put a 12-game regular season non-conference winning streak on the line against East Carolina. They are 4-0 in regular season non-conference action in each of the past three seasons. Including the bowl games, the Gamecocks went 5-0 in non-conference action in 2011 after going 4-1 in non-league games in both 2009 and 2010. They are 26-7 in non-conference games under head coach Steve Spurrier, including wins in 24 of their last 29 non-SEC tilts. The year-by-year breakdown: 2005 (2-2); 2006 (5-0); 2007 (3-1); 2008 (3-2); 2009 (4-1); 2010 (4-1); 2011 (5-0). South Carolina's last regular season non-conference loss came at Clemson in 2008.
PERFECT RECORD: Head coach Steve Spurrier is a perfect 44-0 all-time against schools outside of BCS automatic qualifier conferences, including an 18-0 mark since coming to South Carolina. In 2010, he defeated East Carolina, Navy and The Citadel.
STREAKING INTO THE RECORD BOOKS: The Gamecocks have stretched their winning streak to five straight games dating back to last season, the longest winning streak since they put together a six-game stretch from the end of the 2006 season and the start of the 2007 campaign. The school record for consecutive wins is nine, set in 1984. There have been 14 winning streaks of five games or more in school history, including three during the Spurrier Era, but just six streaks of six-games or more. Here are the top streaks:
Consecutive Wins Year(s)
HOT AS THEY COME: The Gamecocks' five-game winning streak ties for the third-longest current winning streak in the country. TCU holds the longest current winning streak at eight games, followed by Baylor at seven games. South Carolina is tied with Southern California, Missouri, BYU, Alabama, West Virginia and Temple for the third-longest current winning streak at five games.
THE HEAD BALL COACH: Steve Spurrier is in his eighth season directing the Gamecock football program. He has logged a 56-35 mark (.615) in Columbia. Coach Spurrier needs nine wins to become the school's all-time leader in career victories. The Head Ball Coach ranks second on the school's all-time wins list with 56 behind only Rex Enright (64) and third in games coached with 91 behind Enright (140) and Paul Dietzel (96). Spurrier owns a 198-75-2 mark (.724) in 23 seasons as a collegiate head coach, with stops at Duke and Florida before his stint at South Carolina.
TOPS IN HIS FIELD: Steve Spurrier needs just two wins to reach the 200-win plateau as a collegiate head coach. As of the end of the 2011 season, a total of 70 head college football coaches (all divisions) had reached that milestone. Coach Spurrier ranks fourth among active Division I coaches in wins, trailing only Frank Beamer, Mack Brown and Chris Ault. Coach Spurrier's 117 wins in SEC vs. SEC games ranks second only to Bear Bryant's 159.
UNCHARTED TERRITORY: Head coach Steve Spurrier has taken the Gamecocks to six bowl games in his seven-year tenure. The Gamecocks have been bowl-eligible in all seven of his seasons in Columbia, but were not selected following the 2007 season with a 6-6 record. No other coach in Carolina history has taken the Gamecocks to more than three bowl games (Jim Carlen and Joe Morrison). Coach Spurrier is 2-4 in bowl games at South Carolina. He and Lou Holtz are the only Gamecock coaches to post two bowl victories.
GOOD HOME COOKIN': The Gamecocks have done an excellent job of protecting their home turf of late and will put a four-game home winning streak on the line against East Carolina. The Gamecocks were 6-1 at home in 2011, the third straight year in which they won six-of-seven home contests. The only home losses in the last three years came to top-ranked Florida in 2009, to 17th-ranked Arkansas in 2010 and to defending national champion Auburn in 2011. Carolina is 20-3 in its last 23 home games.
IN THE POLLS: The Gamecocks have been ranked in the Associated Press Top-25 for 33 consecutive polls, dating back to the second week of the 2010 season. That is the longest consecutive streak in school history. According to research compiled by "The Blitz," South Carolina was ranked in the A.P. poll 148 times from 1936-2011, 14 times as a member of the ACC (1936-1970), 57 times as a Independent (1971-1991) and 77 times since joining the SEC (1992-2011).
THE BEST FINISH ON RECORD: The Gamecocks finished the 2011 season ranked ninth in the final Associated Press poll, the first time they have finished the season in the top 10. The Gamecocks have finished among the nation's Top-25 in back-to-back years for just the second time in history, joining the 2000 and 2001 squads under Lou Holtz. Four SEC schools - Alabama, LSU, Arkansas and South Carolina - finished the 2011 season ranked among the nation's Top-10. Here are South Carolina's final AP Top-25 rankings:
YEAR FINAL AP
AND NOW THE BEST START ON RECORD: The Gamecocks opened the 2012 season ranked ninth in both the Associated Press and USA Today/Coaches' polls. It's the first time the Gamecocks have been ranked in the preseason top-10 in history. In both polls, five SEC teams are ranked among the nation's top 10, including LSU, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Arkansas.
ABOUT LAST WEEK: The Gamecocks took an early lead in the SEC race with a 17-13 win at SEC Eastern Division rival Vanderbilt on Thursday, Aug. 30. The Gamecocks survived two turnovers on their first three plays from scrimmage and took a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter. The Commodores rallied back to take a 13-10 lead heading into the final stanza. But Carolina was able to put together a nine-play, 66-yard drive that culminated in a Marcus Lattimore one-yard plunge to take a 17-13 advantage early in the fourth quarter, then held on for the win. The Gamecock defense held Vandy to just 17 yards in the final period. Lattimore led the Carolina offense with 110 yards rushing and two scores, earning SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors, while quarterback Connor Shaw carried 14 times for 92 yards as the Gamecocks rolled up 205 yards on the ground. Senior linebacker Shaq Wilson tied for the team lead with eight tackles and also logged a key interception. Carolina recorded five sacks.
FOUR STARTERS: The Gamecocks had four players make their first collegiate start in the season opener at Vanderbilt. The quartet included CB Victor Hampton, DT Byron Jerideau, RG Ronald Patrick and LT Brandon Shell.
TRUE FROSH: The Gamecocks used just four true freshmen in the season opener at Vanderbilt. Among those who saw their first collegiate action were TE Jerell Adams, TB Mike Davis, SPR Jordan Diggs and CB T.J. Gurley.
NUMBER NINE FOR MARCUS: Tailback Marcus Lattimore looked like he had not missed a beat as he returned to the gridiron for the first time since suffering a season-ending knee injury at Mississippi State last October. The junior carried 23 times for 110 yards and two touchdowns in the opener at Vanderbilt. It was his ninth career 100-yard rushing game, moving him into a tie for fifth in school history with Duce Staley and Derek Watson. Here are the school leaders in that category:
Rk. Player 100-Yd Games
1. George Rogers 27
2. Brandon Bennett 11
Harold Green 11
4. Steve Wadiak 10
5. Duce Staley 9
Derek Watson 9
Marcus Lattimore 9
TOPS IN THE NATION: Marcus Lattimore leads the nation in career yards rushing per game, averaging 101.2 yards per contest (minimum 15 games played).
MARCUS MAKES HIS POINT: Junior running back Marcus Lattimore's 29-yard touchdown run in the first quarter at Vanderbilt moved him into sole possession of third place in rushing touchdowns in South Carolina history. After his 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, he now owns 29 career rushing touchdowns, two shy of the school record of 31 set by George Rogers (1977-80) and matched by Harold Green (1986-89). He also has 32 career touchdowns, one short of the school record of 33 that both Rogers and Green hold as well. He is seventh in school history with 192 points scored. Only four players (Collin Mackie-330; Ryan Succop-251; George Rogers-202; Reed Morton-201) have tallied 200 or more points in school history.
BREAKING THE CENTURY MARK: The Gamecocks have three tailbacks who have rushed for 100 or more yards in a game for a total of 15 occasions. Junior Marcus Lattimore leads the way with nine 100-yard rushing games, while senior Kenny Miles and sophomore Brandon Wilds each have three 100-yard rushing contests. In addition, quarterback Connor Shaw has one 100-yard rushing game to his credit.
SHAW AT THE HELM: Connor Shaw used his legs more than his arm to help Carolina win its season opener. The junior quarterback carried 14 times for 92 yards. It was the second highest rushing total in his career, topped only by his 107-yard effort last season against Clemson. The 6-1, 207-pounder from Flowery Branch, Ga. has won nine of his 10 career starts, the best record after 10 games of any signal-caller at Carolina in the past 40 years, just ahead of Steve Taneyhill and Blake Mitchell, both of whom logged 7-3 records after 10 games. Shaw has completed 65.9 percent of his career passes for 1,738 yards and 15 touchdowns with just nine interceptions. He also has rushed 181 times for 782 yards with eight touchdowns. His completion percentage ranks first among all South Carolina quarterbacks in history (minimum 150 pass attempts).
TALENT AT TIGHT END: The Gamecocks are deep at the tight end position. Senior Justice Cunningham is the leader and considered one of the team's top blockers. He had a key reception in the game-winning drive at Vanderbilt in the season opener. Sophomore Rory Anderson is more of a big-play threat, as he caught eight passes for a 23.5-yard average and three touchdowns in 2011. A pair of true freshmen, Jerell Adams and Kelvin Rainey, also have bright futures for the Garnet & Black.
ALONG THE O-LINE: The Gamecocks' offensive line has a blend of youth and experience. Senior center T.J. Johnson, a Rimington Award candidate, anchors the line. He has started every game over the past three seasons, making 41 career starts, He needs just seven starts to become the school's career-leader. Redshirt sophomore A.J. Cann has become a fixture at left guard. He started all 13 games last season as a redshirt freshman and has 14 consecutive starts. True sophomore Mike Matulis (6 starts) gets the call at right tackle. Junior right guard Ronald Patrick and redshirt freshman left tackle Brandon Shell both made their first career starts at Vanderbilt. Redshirt sophomore tackle Cody Gibson has made four career starts.
IMPRESSIVE D-LINE: The Gamecocks, anchored by two of the best defensive ends in college football in senior Devin Taylor and sophomore Jadeveon Clowney, have a standout defensive line. They helped hold Vanderbilt to just 62 yards rushing in the season opener while racking up five sacks, including one each by D-linemen Clowney, Kelcy Quarles, Aldrick Fordham and Chaz Sutton. Quarles, a true sophomore, was credited with a team-leading eight tackles against Vandy, including a pair of tackles for loss.
STRONGMAN COMPETITION: One of the strongest players to ever don the Garnet and Black is fifth-year senior defensive tackle Byron Jerideau. Jerideau, a 6-1, 316-pounder from Green Pond, S.C., is a beast in the weight room, logging a 670-pound squat, a 500-pound bench press and has the strength to power clean well above 300 pounds.
AND TOUGHMAN COMPETITION: There may not be a bigger hitter in the SEC than senior safety D.J. Swearinger. The Greenwood, S.C. native has logged 169 career tackles while making 22 starts during his Carolina career. He owns four interceptions.
PICK THIS: The Gamecocks logged 19 interceptions during the 2011 season with two going for "pick-sixes" (Antonio Allen at Georgia and Devin Taylor at Arkansas). They fell just short of the school record for interceptions in a season (23), set in 1981 and matched in 1984 and again in 1987. Linebacker Shaq Wilson got the first one in 2012.
SENIOR `BACKERS: New linebackers coach Kirk Botkin is blessed with a group of experienced players. The two-deep at the Mike, Will and Spur positions features five seniors who have combined for 14 varsity letters. Reginald Bowens (9 starts) and Damario Jeffery (4 starts) handle the Mike position; Shaq Wilson (21 starts) and Quin Smith (4 starts) man the Will position; and DeVonte Holloman (23 starts) gets the call at the Spur position.
THE PUNTER: Sophomore Tyler Hull did not arrive on the Carolina campus until a week after fall camp began, but quickly asserted himself as the team's top punter. The Mount Airy, N.C. product kicked at Guilford (N.C.) College in 2010 before transferring to Surry Community College. He had six punts in his debut at Vanderbilt, averaging 39.0 yards per kick with a long of 46 yards. Both Hull and backup punter Patrick Fish, wear number 13.
JUST FOR PLACEKICKS: Fifth-year senior Adam Yates has won the placekicking duties. The Sparks, Md. product who sports number 52 in honor of Baltimore Ravens' standout Ray Lewis, connected on his only field goal attempt, a 20-yarder, and two extra points in the opener at Vanderbilt for his first career points. Yates made the biggest kick of his career when he hit a 42-yarder midway through preseason camp, earning a scholarship.
THE LEGACY CONTINUES: The Gamecocks roster features four players whose fathers also donned the Garnet & Black: sophomore defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles and his father, Buddy (1984-87); redshirt freshmen defensive linemen Gerald Dixon and Gerald Dixon Jr. and their father, Gerald (1990-91); and freshman Jordan Diggs and his father, Shed (1984-87).
CAPTAINS: The Gamecock coaches will select game captains each week until the off week in November, at which time the team will select "permanent" captains for the 2012 season. Here are the game-by-game captains:
Vanderbilt: Justice Cunningham, T.J. Johnson, D.J. Swearinger, Shaq Wilson.
EARNING THEIR KEEP: Head coach Steve Spurrier put four former walk-on players on scholarship for the 2012-13 school year. The quartet includes offensive center Travis Ford, deep snapper Walker Inabinet, defensive back Jared Shaw and placekicker Adam Yates.
IT'S A NUMBERS GAME: The Gamecocks returned 89 percent of their rushing yards, 64 percent of their passing yards and 66 percent of their receiving yards from a year ago, In addition, eight of the squad's top 13 tacklers, return for the 2012 campaign.
IN THE CLASSROOM: The Gamecocks placed 21 players on the 2011 SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll, while posting a team GPA of 2.704. Those who made the SEC Honor Roll include returnees Jacob Baker, A.J. Cann, Ryland Culbertson, Bruce Ellington, Travis Ford, Walker Inabinet, T.J. Johnson, Nick Jones, Marcus Lattimore, D.L. Moore, Davis Moore, Ronald Patrick, Connor Shaw, Seth Strickland, Dylan Thompson, and Adam Yates. The team posted its highest GPA on record in Spring 2012 with a mark of 2.781. Football notched a single year (2010-11) APR score of 993 and a multi-year score of 966, both program highs.
SPORTING THE SHEEPSKIN: Ten Gamecocks have earned their diplomas. Those who have graduated include Akeem Auguste (sociology), Reginald Bowens (criminal justice), Qua Gilchrist (sociology), Walker Inabinet (sport & entertainment management), T.J. Johnson (sport & entertainment management), Kenny Miles (criminal justice), D.L. Moore (retailing), Seth Strickland (political science), Shaq Wilson (African-American studies) and Adam Yates (international hospitality-tourism management).
MR. FOOTBALL: The Gamecocks have signed the last four "Mr. Football" winners in the state of South Carolina: Stephon Gilmore in 2009, followed by Marcus Lattimore in 2010, Jadeveon Clowney in 2011 and Shaq Roland in 2012.
THEY PAY TO SEE THE GAMECOCKS PLAY: The Gamecocks averaged 79,131 in their seven home games in the 2011 season, ranking 16th in the country.
UP NEXT: The Gamecocks will continue its three-game homestand when the UAB Blazers visit Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 15. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the contest will be televised on FSN. The Gamecocks are 2-0 all-time against UAB, winning by a 42-10 count in 2003 and again in 2008 by a 26-13 score. Both of those contests were also played in Columbia.