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Home Opener in the Books

The long-awaited home opener at Williams-Brice Stadium had all the makings of a perfect night for the Gamecock faithful on Saturday.  The rain stayed away, the crowd was ready and the team opened the game with the fastest Gamecock touchdown since South Carolina joined the Southeastern Conference.  Halfway through the second quarter, the Gamecocks held a comfortable 17-3 lead.  Game over, right?

In the words of the evergreen Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friend.”

The Owls decided to make it interesting and engineered two scoring drives in the final four and a half minutes of the second quarter to pull within one.  Had it not been for a missed extra point, the teams would have entered the locker room deadlocked at 17.  While watching the two teams jog in at the break, I’m sure many of the Gamecock faithful feared another close battle with a non-conference opponent.

“I’ve come to accept the fact that right now, it’s going to be a dogfight, but I was happy we made three touchdowns in the third quarter,” said Coach Steve Spurrier. “I always expect a dogfight no matter who we play, whether it’s Wofford, Furman or South Carolina State.”

Those three touchdowns from the Gamecocks’ stable of running backs (two from Brian Maddox and one from Jarvis Giles) helped South Carolina pull away and made for a relaxing 38-16 final score to wrap up the first home date of the 2009 season.

“It would’ve been easy to have a down week in practice. It was good to get this one behind us and get ready for another SEC game Thursday in another national TV game,” said Spurrier. “Give Florida Atlantic credit.  They’re a pretty good team.  They won two bowl games in a row and had winning seasons.”

Despite the brief moments of tension, the Gamecocks put in a strong overall performance that resulted in another 500+ yard night for the offense.  In the last two weeks alone, South Carolina has generated over 1,000 yards of offense. Even with the offensive strides made since the season opener at N.C. State, there’s still room for improvement.

“We’re not there yet. We should be a little bit better than we’re doing – a lot better,” said Spurrier.

Night of Firsts: On the night when Gamecock fans had their first chance of the season to sit in Williams-Brice Stadium, a number of South Carolina players had several firsts of their own:

  • Stephon Gilmore picked up his first career interception and his first fumble recovery.
  • Jarvis Giles scored his first career touchdown and had his first 100-yard night (he finished with 113 yards).
  • Kenny Miles picked up his first career carries, rushing five times for 56 yards before sitting out the rest of the game with a shoulder injury.
  • Tori Gurley recorded his first 100-yard night.
  • Scott Spurrier snagged his first career reception.
  • Reid McCollum took his first career snap and had the first completion of his career
  • Tony Straughter recorded his first career start.

Game Ball: Akeem Auguste.  “He was all over the place knocking down passes and making tackles.  He was one of the defensive players that caught my eye and probably caught yours too.” – Spurrier

Double Century Marks: Gurley’s and Giles’ 100-yard nights mark the first time the Gamecocks have had two players with 100 yards receiving and 100 yards rushing in the same game since November 27, 2007 against Tennessee.  Those players were Cory Boyd and Kenny McKinley.  It was the first time two freshmen had done it since Sidney Rice and Mike Davis completed the feat in 2005 (against Clemson and in the Independence Bowl).

Look at him go!: Moe Brown’s 50-yard run to open the game was the longest Gamecock rushing play since a Mike Davis run in the season opener against N.C. State in 2008.

Hope the scoreboard operator was ready: Brian Maddox’s touchdown at the 13:39 mark of the first quarter was the fastest Gamecock touchdown since South Carolina joined the conference.  It was the fastest score since the Gamecocks hit a field goal against Arkansas on November 3, 2003 at the 13:53 mark of the first quarter.

Update the record books: Eric Norwood moved closer to owning the all-time sack record at South Carolina after tying Andrew Provence tonight with his 26th career sack. Chris Culliver took the kickoff returns record from Robert Brooks with his 78th career return tonight.  He only needs 67 yards to become the all-time yardage leader on kickoff returns.

Ready for Thursday: The Gamecocks host No. 5 Mississippi Thursday night (they could climb higher after Southern Cal lost to Washington on Saturday).  The Rebels would be the highest ranked opponent to come to Williams-Brice since No. 2 Georgia visited last September.

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The Closer: Ready for Saturday Night

We’re just about 24 hours away from opening the home part of the 2009 football season.  Check out the scene setter for tomorrow night’s broadcast of the South Carolina – Florida Atlantic game on the Gamecock ISP Sports Network:

If you’re coming to the game, don’t forget to wear Garnet – see you tomorrow!

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South Carolina Depth Chart for FAU Game

Click here to download this weekend’s depth chart for the Gamecocks

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Gameday Live Blog

If you won’t be in the stands at Williams-Brice Stadium this Saturday and you’re looking for a way to follow the game, check out The Editor’s Live Blog from the press box.

Click here to access the blog and sign up for an e-mail reminder.

PressBox Shot

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Florida Atlantic Gameday Need to Know

Time: Saturday at 7:05 p.m. ET

Location: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, SC

TV Coverage: Pay-per-view/ESPN360.com
Broadcast Team:  Andy Demetra, Brad Muller

TV Replay: SportsSouth, Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. ET
Broadcast Team: Andy Demetra, Brad Muller

Radio Coverage: Gamecock Radio Network – Flagship 107.5 FM (Click here for an affiliate in your area)
Broadcast Team: Todd Ellis, Tommy Suggs and Terry Cousin
In-Stadium Radio Frequency: Tune to 107.5 if you’re at the game to hear the Gamecock Radio Network broadcast or E1 on your Live Sports Radio

Satellite Radio:
XM 198

Digital Coverage: Gamecocks Gameday Live. One of the new features for Gamecocks Gameday Live is The Editor’s live game day blog. Click here to get an e-mail reminder and sign up for tomorrow’s blog.

Weather: High 84/Low 68/Chance of rain 60%

Important Gameday Times:

1 p.m. – Stadium Parking Office Opens (located under northwest ramp)
2 p.m. – Parking Lots Open
3 p.m. – Stadium Box Office Opens (located under the northwest ramp)
5 p.m. – Select Stadium Gates Open (Gates 4, 14, 16, 22, 25)
5:30 p.m. – Remaining Stadium Gates Open
7:05 p.m. – Kick-off

Note: Parking lots close 2 hours after the end of the game

Texting for Assistance at the Game:

Report stadium issues, unruly behavior, or requests for help by texting “USC” <space> your issue and location to 41513. Assistance is available two hours before kickoff and one hour after the game. Standard SMS rates apply.

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The 411 on the Florida Atlantic Owls

Florida_AtlantichelmetWhat happened last week…the Florida Atlantic Owls enjoyed a weekend without football after traveling to Nebraska on September 5, losing 49-3 to the No. 24 ranked Cornhuskers.  Read the recap from FAU’s website here.

The last time they played the Gamecocks…was on September 23, 2006 when the Gamecocks defeated the Owls 45-6 in Williams-Brice Stadium.  Sidney Rice caught a school record five touchdown passes in the game.  Click here for a recap of the game.

What to know about Florida Atlantic University….Located in Boca Raton, Florida, the university opened in 1964 as the first public university in southeast Florida.  Enrollment has grown to over 27,000 students.

Head Coach…Howard Schnellenberger owns a 48-49 record in his ninth year at the helm for the Owls.  Schnellenberger was an All-American tight end at Kentucky.  After working as an assistant at Kentucky, he became the offensive coordinator for Bear Bryant at Alabama and won three national championships.  He would later win a national championship as head coach at the University of Miami in 1983.

schnellenberger

Impress your friends with these trivia tidbits…

  • Saturday’s game will feature two of the 12 active coaches who own national championship rings.
  • The Gamecocks are 6-0 all-time against current members of the Sun Belt Conference.
  • South Carolina has a 22-3 home record against non-conference opponents since 2000.
  • South Carolina is two wins away from the winningest decade of all-time.  The Gamecocks have won 62 games in the 2000s.  The 1980s saw the team win 63 games.
  • South Carolina has won its home opener in eight of the last nine seasons.


Offensive Stats
Points Per Game:
3
Yardage Per Game: 358 (Rushing 122; Passing 236)
Red Zone %: 50% (1-2)
Turnovers:
3 (1 fumbles, 2 interceptions)

Defensive Stats
Points Allowed Per Game:
49
Yardage Allowed Per Game: 490 (Rushing 259, Passing 231)
Red Zone %: 100% (4-4)
Turnovers Forced: 1 (1 interception)

Offensive Leaders
Passing:
Rusty Smith –  15-31, 164 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT
Receiving: RB William Rose  – 3 rec., 59 yards; WR Cortez Gent – 5 rec, 58 yards; TE Jamari Grant – 5 rec, 43 yards
Rushing: RB Alfred Morris – 18 carries, 85 yards

Defensive Leaders
Tackles:
LB Michael Lockley 9 tackles (4 solo); DB Ed Alexander 8 tackles (2 solo); LB Edward Bradwell 7 tackles (4 solo)
Tackles for Loss: DL Daniel Joseph – 1 tackle, -2 yards; DB Austin Jensen – 1 tackle, -1 yard

Kicking Game
Field Goals:
K Blair Walsh 1-2 (Long: 21 yards)
Punting: K Keegan Peterson, 31 yard average


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Cocks Crow: Thursday

Don’t forget about Carolina Calls tonight at Wild Wing in the Vista with Coach Spurrier at 7 p.m.  If you can’t make it downtown, listen live on 107.5 The Game or watch the streaming webcast from WIS.

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