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2019 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ISSUE AUGUST 2019 • VOLUME 41 • ISSUE 8

THE

EVOLUTION

OF JAKE

Bentley chasing records as he leads Will Muschamp’s best team


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August 2019


Game Time There’s no more exciting moment than when South Carolina takes the field to 2001. Williams-Brice Stadium is sure to be rocking for the home opener Sept. 7 against Charleston Southern and a week later when the Gamecocks play host to No. 1 Alabama. For the complete schedule,

SEE PAGE 42. Photo by Travis Bell

August 2019

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Publishing SCHEDULE

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purs & Feathers is the official publication of the University of South Carolina Gamecock Club. It is published monthly, 12 times per year and is available to Gamecock Club members as well as additional subscribers. To opt in or subscribe, email subscribe@spursandfeathers. com or call 843-853-7678. The Gamecock Club and Spurs & Feathers thank you for your support. Below is our publication schedule for 2019:

Jan. 23 Feb. 20 March 20 April 24 May 22 June 19

CONTENTS

July 24 Aug. 28 Sept. 25 Oct. 23 Nov. 20 Dec. 18

SHOUT OUT Kobe Smith celebrates South Carolina’s 48-44 win over Ole Miss last year. Smith leads a deep and experienced defensive line this season. For previews on every position, SEE PAGES 26-39.

Editor’s Note: The editorial deadline for this issue was August 16.

Photo provided by SC Athletics

GAMECOCK CLUB EVENTS

GAMECOCK CLUB

Charlotte Kickoff The Charlotte Gamecock Club will hold its annual Football Kickoff party prior to the South Carolina-North Carolina game on Aug. 30 at Ri-Ra’s at 208 N. Tryon St. in Uptown Charlotte. Sponsored by the My Carolina Alumni Association, The Gamecock Club and the Charlotte and York County Clubs, the free event will start with Happy Hour from 5-7 p.m., followed by live music by Ben Fagan & the Hooligans. The party will also feature Cocky, Gamecock cheerleaders, a DJ and surprise guests. Free parking is located in the Center City Green Parking Garage at 350 E. 6th Street. On game day, the Charlotte club will hold its Official Gamecock Tailgate from 11-3 at Ink N Ivy at 222 Church St. in Uptown Charlotte. The Charlotte Gamecock Club also has a new home for its weekly football viewing party. The Charlotte Gamecocks will be at the Dillworth Neighborhood Grille at 911 E. Morehead Street on game day. The free party will feature game audio and a DJ.

Got a Gamecock Club event you’d like us to list? Email jowens@ spursandfeathers.com

8 Lattimore heads HOF class

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FAN FAVORITE Bryan Edwards has been a steady performer the past three seasons. Now he’s in position to break many of South Carolina’s all-time receiving records. For a look at how Edwards became a Gamecock, SEE PAGE 16. Photo by Jenny Dilworth

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Hopes and Dreams: Calhoun Wrenn Foundation inspires Columbia kids

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Gunter: Four intriguing players to watch

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Opponent Previews: Breaking down all 12 games

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August 2019


CRUNCH TIME Javon Kinlaw (3), D.J. Wonnum (8), Keir Thomas (5) and Sherrod Greene (44) gang tackle a Florida running back. Stopping the run will be critical for the Gamecocks this season. For 10 keys to the 2019 season, SEE PAGE 20. Photo by Travis Bell

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August 2019

TABLE OF CONTENTS

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Lattimore heads 2019 South Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame class

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amecock football great Marcus Lattimore headlines a class of nine new members of the University of South Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame. Lattimore, who starred from 2010-12, ranks sixth on the school’s all-time rushing list with 2,677 yards and owns the school record for both rushing touchdowns (38) and touchdowns scored (41) despite an abbreviated career due to injury. His best season came as a freshman in 2010 when he rushed for 1,197 yards and was a unanimous selection as a Freshman All-American. He was a Photo by Allen Sharpe fourth-round pick by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2013 NFL Draft and is now part events in 1986. He also competed in of head coach Will Muschamp’s the 1988 summer Olympics. staff as director of player developKristi Coggins, women’s golf ment. (1994-2007) — Coggins was head The 2019 class, selected by the women’s coach for 13 years, leading Association of Lettermen, will be the Gamecocks to 12 trips to the inducted into the Hall of Fame on postseason and six NCAA champiThursday, Oct. 17 at The Zone at onship appearances. She was SEC Williams-Brice Stadium and recogCoach of the Year in 1999 and her nized at the South Carolina-Florida 2002 team claimed its first SEC title. football game on Oct. 19. Rashad Faison, football (1999Here’s a look at the other 2019 2002) — A Freshman All-Amerinductees: ican in 1999, Faison is the school Gary Binfield, swimming (1986record holder with 247 careeer 89) — A 15-time All-American, he unassisted tackles. A defensive held the school record in the 100m back, he is seventh in total tackles and 200m backstroke and was the with 349, 10th in tackles for loss Metro Conference champion in two

fourth in kills and fifth in attacks. The Gamecocks made the NCAA tournament in all four of her seasons. Jim Schaper, track & field (1971-74) — A

two-time All-American, Schaper ranked 10th in the world in the mile run and holds the school record in the 1,500 meters, the two-mile relay and the distance medley relay. He was a member of the second NCAA Championship in track & field history with the 1974 indoor two-mile relay. Derick Urquhart, baseball (1995-98) — Urquhart holds the

with 27.5 and fourth with 25 career passes broken up. Joe Grugan, multi-sport (193741) — Grugan spent five decades

either playing, coaching or serving in an administrative role. He was a star running back in football from 1937-41 for Rex Enright and a pitcher and outfielder in baseball. He served as head coach for baseball, tennis and golf, as well as assisting on the football and basketball staffs. Cally Plummer, volleyball (1998-2002) — Plummer is one

of just four Gamecocks in program history to be a four-time All-SEC performer. She is the program’s alltime leader in career aces and ranks

career record with 223 runs scored and had a .332 career batting average. He also ranks among the all-time leaders in doubles (51), hits (265), RBIs (180) and total bases and is one of only seven players to hit for the cycle and the only one to do it twice.

Harry Wolf, multi-sport (1925-28) — Wolf starred in the

late 1920s, when the Gamecocks were members of the 22-school Southern Conference. Wolf won the conference heavyweight boxing championship, was a member of the football and basketball teams and competed in the weight throws in track & field, where he was conference champion in the shot put.

New Gamecock GO Pass offers unlimited games across all sports

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outh Carolina Athletics has introduced the Gamecock GO Pass, an all-sport subscription-based plan that allows fans to attend an unlimited number of home games across all sports for only $25 per month. The mobile-only pass will assign seats prior to the game with those seat locations changing each game. “Gamecock fans are the best in the nation with a history of passionate support,” South Carolina Athletics Director Ray Tanner said. “No school in the nation 8

GAMECOCK HALL OF FAME • MARCUS LATTIMORE

has the fan support for all of its sports like we do at Carolina. Our student-athletes, coaches and staff appreciate the tremendous home advantage our fans give us, and the Gamecock GO Pass is an opportunity to grow that support.” The all-sport subscription pass, which is similar to popular online streaming services, is the first of its kind in the SEC with only one other program in the Power 5 conferences offering a similar product. The Gamecock GO Pass is $25 per month with a 12-month commitment, or fans can make

a one-time payment of $300. All regular-season home events are included, however, tickets are not available in sellout scenarios. Other features include “Sit With Friends,” guest tickets and gameday seat upgrades. The “Sit With Friends” feature allows fans to link their passes in order to sit together at their selected games. Guest tickets provide the opportunity to purchase at face value extra tickets to a game with those seats located with the Gamecock GO Pass seats. Should fans want to improve their assigned seat

location, upgrades are available for purchase on game day. “We are always looking at ways to make it more convenient and affordable for Gamecock fans to attend our home events,” Tanner said. “The Gamecock GO Pass is the most cost-effective, userfriendly way for any fan to support our student-athletes at most, if not all, of our sports’ home games.” For more information on the Gamecock GO Pass or other ticket options, visit ItsGreatToBeAGamecock.com/Go or GamecocksOnline.com/Tickets.

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ATHLE TE OF THE MONTH

Paul Jubb A

fter winning the NCAA Singles Championship at the end of the 2019 season, South Carolina’s Paul Jubb made a big splash on the pro circuit this summer. Jubb, a junior from Hull, England, scored back-to-back wins over ATP Top 160 players to earn a wild-card entry into the Wimbledon Championships at the prestigious All England Club. On the grandest stage in tennis, the Gamecock star took No. 69 Joao Sousa to four sets before falling 0-6, 3-6, 7-6, 1-6 in the first round. After an amazing junior season that featured a 38-4 record, a school-record 23 wins over ranked opponents and the highest national ranking in program history (No. 3), the South Carolina All-American finished 3-3 on the ATP Challenger Tour and climbed as high as No. 427 in the world during his summer pro tour.

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August 2019


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NEXT LEVEL

Jake Bentley sets sights on school passing records, bright future By Jeff Owens | Executive Editor

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ake Bentley had spent the week with some of the best college quarterbacks in the country. As a camp counselor at the prestigious Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux, La., Bentley hung out with elite QBs like Georgia’s Jake Fromm, Notre Dame’s Ian Book and LSU’s Joe Burrow. On Saturday night, it was time to test his skills against the nation’s best. With hundreds of aspiring young quarterbacks watching, Bentley squared off against the likes of Fromm, Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and Oregon’s Justin Herbert — all Heisman candidates — in the Air It Out Quarterback Challenge. Each quarterback had to throw three passes at a moving golf cart — overthe-middle routes from 15 and 25 yards, followed by a deep route. And as NFL legend Archie Manning said, the deep route is a unique challenge because “unlike a receiver, the golf cart doesn’t adjust to the ball, so you have to be on target.” Only two quarterbacks hit all three targets — Bentley and Appalachian State’s Zac Thomas. Bentley then beat Thomas in a playoff to win the competition, cementing his

victory by raising his right arm in the air and letting out a signature “Whooo.” “I was standing there beside him and he really wanted to win,” said Archie Manning, who runs the camp with his sons, NFL greats Peyton and Eli Manning. “He was really pumped about winning that, and we were excited for him because we all like Jake.” “Jake did well,” Eli said. “He was right up there with the rest of the big names.” The mid-summer competition showed just how far Bentley has come in his three years as South Carolina’s starting quarterback and how he stacks up against the nation’s best. Going into his senior year, he is regarded as one of the SEC’s best and is in line to break most of South Carolina’s school passing records. After taking over the starting job as a true freshman, Bentley is 19-13 as a starter (10-7 in the SEC) and could challenge Connor Shaw’s record of 27 wins as a starting QB. He has thrown for 7,385 yards and 54 touchdowns and is second in school history with a completion percentage of 62.8. He’s coming off

Photo by Travis Bell

his best season, throwing for 3,171 yards and 27 touchdowns. He’s expected to take the next step this season, emerging as one of the top quarterbacks in April’s NFL Draft. He’s spent the offseason getting bigger and strong, refining his mechanics and hanging out with some of the best quarterbacks in the game. “Jake is as hard a worker as I’ve ever been around,” quarterbacks coach Dan Werner said. “He had a plan of what he needed to work on and that’s what he has been working on. Hopefully it will get him to that next level.” Former Ole Miss quarterback David Morris, an instructor at Quarterback Country, a training and development center in Mobile, Ala., is Bentley’s offseason coach. He believes his prize student is poised for a big senior year. “He is better than he has ever been mentally and physically and has a great

“I think he can be one of the top quarterbacks in the SEC this year. I think he has the ability and intangibles to do special things.” — David Morris, Quarterback Country 12

COVER STORY • JAKE BENTLEY

August 2019


plan for the year,” Morris said. “His confidence is better than it’s ever been; that’s one of the reasons I’m so excited about where he is. I feel like he knows there’s another level he can take his game to, and I think he’s going to be there this year.” Bentley appeared more confident and focused entering training camp and is determined to put together a big senior year, leading South Carolina to another winning season and a fourth straight bowl game. “He’s matured a lot,” says Bobby Bentley, Jake’s dad and South Carolina’s tight ends coach. “From what I’ve seen, he’s gotten quicker, he’s worked harder in the offseason program and gotten stronger. I’ve seen a difference out there on the field and hopefully it pays off for him.” Though quarterback is now one of the deepest positions on the team with talented young backups Dakereon Joyner and Ryan Hilinski in the fold, head coach Will Muschamp reiterates what he has said for the past three years: He’s glad Bentley is his starting quarterback. “I’ve been very comfortable from day one with Jake as far as him being a very mature guy, mature beyond his years, which I think is critical at that position,” he said. “He positively affects people around him. He has a calm, cool demeanor. He’s a great competitor. He has great toughness. He has all the intangible qualities you look for at that position.” Bentley credits the Manning Passing Academy with helping him mature as both a person and a quarterback. The camp invites 40 of the top college quarterbacks in the country to serve as camp counselors, and Bentley is one of just

Photo by Parker Waters/ Manning Passing Academy

three to attend each of the past three years. When he wasn’t hanging out with Fromm, Book, Burrow and Florida State’s Alex Hornibrook, he got to pick the brain of Peyton, Eli and Archie. “Just being around a group of high-level quarterbacks there and to be able to soak up all the knowledge from Peyton and Eli is a really big thing for a quarterback,” he said. “That has helped me a lot.” “The Manning family, those guys are serious about quarterbacking, obviously,” said Werner, a former Ole Miss coach and good friend of the Mannings. “So just the fact that they are down there around each other talking football is a big thing. But they get to compete against each other at the end, which is fun. And Jake wound up winning it, so that is a huge deal for him.”

Bentley loves working with kids and has become a favorite of both the campers and coaches at the passing academy. Werner even says he learned a thing or two from the younger quarterbacks. “He gets to coach younger kids and he’s thinking, ‘Oh, now I see why coach says this all the time. This guy is doing the same thing,’” he said. “Everybody likes Jake and he does a great job with the kids,” Archie Manning said. “He’s just a great kid. If all our counselors through the years had Jake’s attitude, it would be great.” Peyton (Tennessee) and Eli (Ole Miss) were both great college quarterbacks and have won four Super Bowls between them. Peyton holds numerous NFL records, including touchdown passes (539) and MVP awards (5). Bentley, a student of the game, says the lessons he has learned from the two NFL greats has been invaluable. “Just how they approach things, it’s so professional,” he said. “There is no laughing and giggling when they are ready to go play. It’s business and it’s time to go to work. They are really chill guys when you just talk to them one-on-one after the workout is over, but when it’s time to go to work, it’s all business and there is nothing else that really matters in that moment.”

From left: Peyton Manning, Archie Manning, Jake Bentley, Eli Manning, Cooper Manning.

Photo by Parker Waters/ Manning Passing Academy

August 2019

Growing Up

Bentley started his South Carolina career with a bang, beating UMass, Tennessee and Missouri to go 3-0 as a freshman in 2016. Then, in his fourth start, he faced his first heavy dose of adversity. He struggled against Florida in Gainesville and was moping on the sidelines as the Gamecocks trailed the Gators 20-7. “I wasn’t playing good and I was kinda sitting there, ‘poor me,’” he recalled. “Now I feel like, senior year, it’s my job to get us back going. I’ve got to go down the line and get the guys fired up and ready to go. It’s just maturity and everything slowing down.” He made great strides last season. After struggling in early-season losses to Georgia and Kentucky, Bentley missed the Missouri game with a knee injury. He had to watch from the sidelines as senior backup Michael Scarnecchia led the Gamecocks to a thrilling 37-35 win over Missouri. When Bentley struggled in the first half against Texas A&M the following week, he was booed by fans calling for Scarnecchia to replace him. But in the second half, Bentley stormed back to turn around the game and his season. Trailing 16-0 in the third quarter, he led the Gamecocks on two long scoring drives to tie the game and nearly led them to a come-from-behind victory before falling 26-23. Over the next five weeks, Bentley threw for 1,603 yards and 14 touchdowns (he also rushed for two) as South Carolina won three of its JAKE BENTLEY • COVER STORY 13


JAKE VS. SC RECORD BOOK STAT TOTAL RANK Pass Attempts 972 4th Pass Completions 610 3rd Passing Yards 7,385 4th Completion Pct 62.8 2nd Passing TDs 54 3rd QB Wins 19 6th Total Offense 7,533 5th TDs Responsible For 62 4th

Photo by SC Athletics

final five games. He capped the regular season with a school-record 510 yards and five touchdowns against national champion Clemson. Though he struggled in the Belk Bowl loss to Virginia, Muschamp believes the way Bentley finished the season demonstrates his ability to bounce back and finish strong. “To be able to rebound and play as well as he played down the stretch certainly goes back to facing adversity, handling adversity and then responding the right way,” he said. “I think that’s a great example of who he is as a person.” Bentley’s biggest challenge this season is taking better care of the ball and reducing turnovers. He threw 14 interceptions last season, five of them in the red zone, though the number was inflated by more than 20 dropped passes, including some momentum- and gamechanging drops. “That’s unacceptable,” Bentley said of the interceptions. “To be a quarterback in this league, that can’t happen. Whether it was tipped passes or just bad throws, I sign the check on every throw and I’ve got to limit those. I think I did a good job in the spring of limiting those and continued through the summer.” 14 COVER STORY • JAKE BENTLEY

“All 14 interceptions weren’t on Jake. But we have to do a better job in the red zone, we have to do a better job overall,” Muschamp said. “The biggest thing I have told Jake is, let’s just take care of the football and be more consistent with our decision-making, and he’s worked extremely hard in the offseason.” Morris, of Quarterback Country, believes Bentley is poised to be more consistent and make the right decisions in key situations. “I think he’s really dialed in as far as knowing his tendencies and being familiar with his mechanics and being familiar with the areas in which he can continue to grow,” he said. “Because of the experience he has, I think he is in a position to have a breakout year from the standpoint of consistency and playing really good, smart football at a high level. “I think he can be one of the top quarterbacks in the SEC this year. I really believe that. I think he has the ability and intangibles to do special things.” Bentley will face the biggest challenge of his career against the nation’s toughest schedule. South Carolina will play the nation’s top three teams — Alabama and

Clemson at home and Georgia on the road. The schedule also features two more top-10 teams in Florida and Texas A&M. The biggest knock against Bentley and Muschamp has been their inability to win big games — they are 1-10 together against ranked opponents. Bentley’s approach is to treat those games just like all the others, creating consistency by preparing the same way for each game. “We have to find a way to win those games. It’s games that decide our season,” he said. “But I think the biggest thing is to not go into those games with a different mindset than you go into a game against a lowerlevel team. That’s the thing that people get twisted. They think you have to do some magical thing and have a magical mindset going into a game against Alabama or something, but you should have that same mindset when you are lifting, when you are in the film room, when you have practice. If we can have that, I think it will be good for us.” If he maintains that approach and puts up good numbers against the nation’s top teams, Bentley could go down as the greatest quarterback in school history. He enters the season in the top five in most

passing categories and should break the record for completions, passing yards and touchdowns. Growing up in Duncan, S.C., he has dreamed of seeing his name on the concourse at Williams-Brice Stadium. But winning comes first. “It’s something that is special to me,” he said. “I think it will be more special after the season, but growing up in South Carolina and going to games and seeing the names up there on the walkways, it’s something you always dreamed about as a kid. Too have that opportunity is special.” If Bentley caps his career with a record-setting performance, he will not only emerge as one of the top quarterbacks in the SEC but will put himself in position to be one of the top players taken in next year’s NFL Draft. His proponents believe he will get there. “Jake is a heckuva player,” says Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher, who recruited Bentley in high school and watched him engineer the comeback against his Aggies last year. “He has great arm talent and being a coach’s son, he knows the game. He’s tough, he can make all the throws, he stands in the pocket. He’s a guy I think will play on Sundays.” “Jake can absolutely be an NFL quarterback,” says Morris, who worked with Duke quarterback Daniel Jones, the sixth overall pick in last year’s draft. “It’s just not worrying about that right now and just playing good football and getting better. If he continues to do that, all that will just happen naturally and it will happen because he focused on each day at a time and each game at a time.” Archie Manning, who is in the College Football Hall of Fame, has become a big fan of Bentley. He texts him after almost every game and sat with 1980 Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers last fall as they watched Bentley throw for 363 yards in a 48-44 win over Ole Miss in Oxford. “I know they have a tough schedule, but there is something about being a senior,” Manning said. “A lot of kids who come out early and don’t experience that, I think they miss something. … I think there is really something special about being a senior, being a captain, being a quarterback and a leader and being a quarterback in a program for three years. There are a lot of special things there. “I think he will have a really good year.”

August 2019


GAMECOCK GREATS How Jake Bentley stacks up against some of South Carolina’s top quarterbacks of all-time CONNOR SHAW (2010-13) Comp Pct 65.5 Passing Yards 6,074 Passing TDs 56 Interceptions 16 Rushing Yards 1,683 Rushing TDs 17 Record 27-5 (17-0 at home) Signature Wins: 3-0 vs. Clemson (34-13, 27-17, 31-17) • 3-0 in bowl games (Nebraska, Michigan, Wisconsin) • beat No. 5 Georgia in 2012 • beat No. 5 Missouri in 2013 • 2-1 vs. Tennessee and Florida.

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Photo by Allen Sharpe

STEVE TANEYHILL (1992-95) Comp Pct 60.1 Passing Yards 8,555 Passing TDs 61 Interceptions 37 Rushing Yards 0 Rushing TDs 1 Record 20-19-1 Signature Wins: Beat No. 15 Miss State in first career start • beat No. 16 Tennessee in 1992 • won at Clemson in 1992 • beat No. 14 Georgia in 1993 • won at LSU in 1994 • won at Clemson in 1994 • beat West Virginia in 1994 Carquest Bowl.

Receive your exclusive offer and learn more about TODD ELLIS (1986-89) Receive your exclusive offer and learn more about our partnership our partnership Comp Pct 55.3 Passing Yards 9,953 Passing TDs 49 Interceptions 73 Rushing Yards 0 Rushing TDs 3 Record 24-16-3 Signature Wins: Beat No. 8 Clemson in 1987 • beat No. 6 Georgia in 1988 • beat No. 23 Georgia in 1989.

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STEPHEN GARCIA (2008-11) (803) 808-2886 Comp Pct 57.7

Passing Yards 7,597 Passing TDs 47 Interceptions 41 Rushing Yards 777 Rushing TD 15 Record 20-14 Signature Wins: Beat Tennessee in second career start in 2008 • won at No. 15 Clemson in 2009 • beat No. 1 Alabama, No. 22 Georgia and No. 24 Florida in 2010 • beat Clemson in 2010 • came off the bench to beat East Carolina 5637 in Charlotte in 2011 • won at Georgia 45-42 in 2011.

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(1972-75)

Comp Pct 50.8 Passing Yards 3,440 Passing TDs 26 Interceptions 25 Rushing Yards 1,577 Rushing TDs 26 Record N/A Signature Wins: Beat Florida State 52-12 in 1973 • beat Clemson in 1973 • beat No. 18 Baylor in 1975 • beat Clemson 56-20 in 1975.

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August 2019

JAKE BENTLEY • COVER STORY 15


Elite Company Bryan Edwards poised to become one of Carolina’s all-time greats By Josh Hyber | Staff writer

EDWARDS vs. SC RECORD BOOK STAT NO RANK Photo by Allen Sharpe

A

lshon Jeffery, Sterling Sharpe, Robert Brooks. Sidney Rice, Kenny McKinley, Zola Davis. Pharoh Cooper and Deebo Samuel. He may not have gotten as much attention — at least not yet — as the aforementioned South Carolina greats, but Bryan Edwards will go down among them as one of the alltime great Gamecock receivers. If not the best. “Bryan Edwards should have every receiving record there is at the University of South Carolina after this season,” Gamecock head coach Will Muschamp said at SEC Media Days. “You think about some of the elite players that have played the receiver position at South Carolina. “That’s pretty high company.” “I think he’s the most underrated receiver in the nation,” SC quarterback Jake Bentley said. “He’s just a workhorse. You never see him not working on some part of his game at the facility.” Before this season Edwards was named to the Biletnikoff Award watch list and earned preseason 16 FEATURE • BRYAN EDWARDS

All-SEC third-team honors. The 6-3, 215-pounder enters his senior season ranked fifth in receptions (163), sixth in receiving yards (2,229) and tied for ninth in receiving touchdowns (16) on the school’s all-time lists. The Conway native — who has played in 38 games (37 starts) during his career — needs 45 receptions, 814 receiving yards and eight receiving touchdowns to move into first in each of the categories. “I don’t pay too much attention to stuff like that,” Edwards said. “I know if I go out there, do my job and play how I know I can play, all the fame and the notoriety and things like that, it’ll come. “Obviously it’s something you think about, anytime you can put your name in the record book and get your name on the stadium and things like that. I’m excited for it, but I know the only way I can accomplish it is if I go out there and do my job.” Edwards looks up to Jeffery, someone he speaks with from time to time. “It’s an everyday thing. Go hard every day,” Jeffery tells him.

Receptions 163 5th Receiving Yards 2,229 6th 100-Yard Games 5 10th Receiving TDs 16 9th Consecutive Games W/ Catch 38 2nd

Photo by Jenny Dilworth

“Your life can change in the next six months. You can be whatever you want to be. Believe in yourself and have that confidence and you can accomplish anything.”

Edwards has said he needs to be more consistent, surprising considering his numbers in his first three seasons as a Gamecock haven’t wavered drastically: 44 catches for 590 yards and four touchdowns as a

August 2019


August 2019

Bryan Edwards, Will Muschamp, Michelle Edwards Photo courtesy of Edwards family

“We all sat around the living room and [Will] told us what he thought and what he wanted to go down,� Michelle Edwards, who happens to be a South Carolina alumnae, told Spurs & Feathers. “Bryan just listened. “I told [Will], ‘I looked you up and I’ve seen your face and how you act sometimes at games.’ But after speaking with him, I liked him from then on.� A little more than a week after the visit, Edwards, who had committed to South Carolina when Steve Spurrier was coach and later de-committed, re-committed to the Gamecocks. Although Edwards said last year he grew up mostly a Georgia Bulldogs football fan and attended both South Carolina and Clemson games, his mom said that growing up he was mostly a Clemson and New York Giants football fan. “He was fun-loving and always a happy kid,� she said. “And always eating — beef roast, spaghetti, homemade fried rice, meatloaf, oxtail stew. There are very few things I cook he won’t eat. “And always outside playing or getting into something. He was always busy. Never had trouble-making friends. And he would dance at parties. We had family get-togethers and he would dance.� He also loved sports. “Anything that involved him being outdoors and playing with a group of people, that was him,� Michelle Edwards said. Football really only separated itself because Bryan’s older sister, who later attended Clemson, was a cheerleader and the Edwards parents could get them to the field at the same time. At South Carolina, Edwards became the sixth true freshman to start a season opener since 2009. He earned SEC All-Freshman first-team accolades and turned in the second-

best true freshman season for a receiver in school history behind Jeffery. As a sophomore he won the Steve Spurrier Award as the team’s offensive MVP and led the team with 64 receptions, eighth in school history for a single season. As a junior last year he was the Gamecocks’ second-leading receiver. He ranked sixth in the SEC with 65.1 receiving yards per game and 10th with 4.2 receptions per game. Now Edwards’ focus remains on himself and his team. “From the time spring ended till now, you know, it’s been all football, all work,� Edwards said. “Even the month off we had, I was up here trying to work out and get ready for this upcoming season. So I feel as confident as I’ve ever been in myself and in my body and what I can do.� “He knows we are only going to be as good as the rest of the guys too,� Bentley said. “Me and Bryan can’t do it ourselves. Josh Vann, Shi

Smith, OrTre Smith are going to have big years too. I think he understands that and is doing everything he can to help them along the way too.â€? Edwards also announced in June he and his girlfriend Breahsha are expecting a son, Braxton. “I’m as motivated as I’ve ever been,â€? he said. “I’m confident in what I can do and my abilities. I’m excited, more than anything, to see where I land and what the future holds. I’m excited to get the season rolling.â€? “I’m happy for him and I’m excited for him to go to the next chapter of his life,â€? Michelle Edwards said. “I would love for him to have another year. For my husband, he wishes Bryan could stay forever.â€? “He has worked extremely hard this summer and attacked the offseason,â€? Muschamp said. “I’ve seen a lot of guys who make a decision to come back and kind of cruise through the offseason. ‌ That’s not the right mentality and that’s not what Bryan has done. Bryan is in really good shape. He told me he’s in the best shape he’s been in at South Carolina. “I expect him to have a great year.â€?

      







      @ 



      @ 

|   |    THE WILLIAMS GROUP AT MORGAN STANLEY

FT8-1811021-1

freshman; 64 catches for 793 yards and five touchdowns as a sophomore; and 55 catches for 846 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior. Last season he played in all 13 games, catching seven passes twice, five twice and four twice. He never caught fewer than three in a game. Edwards will also focus this season on being a leader, on the field and in the meeting room. “Being that number one guy and just separating myself from the pack,â€? he said. “I just have to control my room and the guys I’m leading and make sure they know their roles are important. And make sure we’re ready to play every week.â€? Now, without Samuel, a secondround NFL Draft selection by the San Francisco 49ers, it’s his time to shine. “I always saw myself as a number one. Kind of a 1A, 1B when Deebo was here,â€? Edwards said. “Even when Deebo went down with the ankle injury, I got a chance to step into that role at an early age. So it’s another day at work for me. â€œâ€Ś It’s time for me to step up. But I feel that will be easy for me, natural for me, because it’s what I do every day.â€? Before last season’s Belk Bowl, Virginia cornerback Bryce Hall, one of the nation’s best at his position, said he would have liked to play against Samuel but called Edwards “every bit as good.â€? “I learned [from Deebo] that you’ve got to come to work with your lunch pail and do what the coaches ask of you,â€? Edwards said. “And not try to do too much. Play in the system and take it one game at a time, one play at a time.â€? Edwards was the second player Muschamp recruited when the latter was named the Gamecocks’ head coach. He flew to Conway with Gamecock defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson and met for about an hour with Bryan and his parents John and Michelle. Bryan’s maternal grandfather, Eddie Geathers, a star defensive back for Clemson from 1977-1980, also showed up. “He was decked out in his Clemson stuff,â€? Edwards remembers. “He wanted them to know he played at Clemson and what team he wanted me to go to. “But it was a great experience. They had a great message for me and a great plan for me. They kind of turned the tide and I actually started looking at South Carolina as the place I wanted to go.â€?

     

BRYAN EDWARDS • FEATURE 17


Photo by Allen Sharpe

the brunson file Tackles 206 Tackles For Loss 15 Sacks 6 Fumble Recoveries 3 Career High 16 tackles (twice) Honors: Team Captain; Defensive MVP; Leadership Award; Nutrition Award; Most Productive Player; Unselfish Teammate; Co-Defensive Player of Spring.

18

FEATURE • T.J. BRUNSON

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Will Muschamp, T.J. Brunson and Shawn Elliot Photo courtesy of Jay Frye

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T.J. BRUNSON • FEATURE 19


will be targeted often this year. With Samuel gone, Smith will move outside more to take advantage of his blazing speed. “He’s just as explosive as Deebo, but they play different,” Bentley said. “Definitely a guy who is going to have a big year for us.”

4. Win Turnovers

Two years ago, the Gamecocks were +11 in turnover margin (second in the SEC) and finished 9-4. Last season, they were -5 (12th in the SEC). That number must improve this season. The Gamecocks had just six interceptions last year but tall, aggressive corners Jaycee Horn and Israel Mukuamu and ball hawking safety R.J. Roderick should help. With a deeper front seven and a better pass rush, they should have plenty of opportunities.

5. Score Touchdowns A.J. Turner

The Time is Now

10 keys to Gamecocks taking big step in Muschamp’s fourth season By Jeff Owens | Executive Editor • Photos by Allen Sharpe and SC Athletics

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ill Muschamp makes no bones that this is his best team in his four seasons at South Carolina. He has 16 returning starters, including several who have started multiple seasons, and strong leadership from what he calls a “special” senior class. He has the most depth he’s ever had and better talent at key positions. Though the Gamecocks face a daunting schedule, they also have a chance to do something special. For South Carolina to have a third straight winning season, contend in the SEC East and reach a fourth straight bowl game, here’s 10 things that must happen.

1. Jake Must Shine

Starting quarterback Jake Bentley had a busy and productive offseason (see page 12) and seems poised for a record-setting senior year. There is no more important player on the team. In many ways, the Gamecocks will go as Jake goes. 20 FEATURE • 10 KEYS TO 2019 SEASON

Simply put, if he plays like he did against Clemson, South Carolina could upset one of the big three teams it plays and have a big year. But if he plays like he did against Georgia, Kentucky and Virginia, the Gamecocks could struggle. “I feel very confident going into this season,” Bentley said.

2. Run The Ball

South Carolina averaged just 4.5 yards per carry last season — a yard shy of Muschamp’s goal — and was 12th in the SEC with 153 yards per game. Gamecock running backs struggled on third down and failed to produce many explosive plays. “We haven’t in three years met what we need to do running the football,” Muschamp said. “We have got to improve those areas to take the next step as a program.” Rico Dowdle (654) and Mon Denson (432) led the team in rushing last year but both battled injuries. A.J. Turner averaged 6.4 yards per carry but finished the season on defense. All three return. The

Gamecocks should get a big boost from Tavien Feaster, a grad transfer from Clemson (see page 30).

3. Replace Deebo

Replacing Deebo Samuel is practically impossible. The secondround NFL Draft pick scored 29 career touchdowns, including four on kickoff returns. And he shined in big games, torching Clemson for 210 yards and three touchdowns in his final collegiate game. How do you replace that kind of production? And who are the candidates to fill Samuel’s role? Turner is champing at the bit to take over kickoff return duties. He’s spent much of his career blocking for Samuel and can’t wait to get his hands on the ball on special teams. A fast running back who's versatile enough to play defensive back, he could break one. Shi Smith has the speed and explosiveness to replace some of Samuel’s production at receiver. He has 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns in his first two seasons and

Quarterbacks coach Dan Werner doesn’t even like to talk about field goals. He hates them. “I don’t even look at that stat that says red-zone scoring, which means you kick a bunch of field goals,” he said. “I look at how many times we scored touchdowns, and we weren’t close to where we want to be.” The Gamecocks averaged 30 points per game last year but scored touchdowns on only 57 percent of their red-zone opportunities. Werner says that number needs to increase to at least 70 percent. In 56 red-zone trips last year, they came away with no points 13 times. “That’s gut-wrenching,” Muschamp said. Much of that falls on Bentley, who threw five red-zone interceptions. “To win football games we have to stop turning the ball over, especially down in the red zone,” Bentley said. A stronger running game will help, and Bentley has plenty of redzone targets in the passing game (see page 28).

6. Stop The Run

Muschamp and his coaching staff have raved about the depth on the defensive line. There are five experienced seniors and a host of talented young players. Javon Kinlaw and D.J. Wonnum are all-star candidates, while youngsters Zacch Pickens, Rick Sandidge and J.J. Enagbare could be ready to make a big impact. The big challenge is playing better run defense. The Gamecocks allowed 195.3 yards per game last year and couldn’t stop Georgia, Florida or Clemson. Kinlaw is a

August 2019


8. Catch The Ball

beast, and the Gamecocks have more big bodies inside in Pickens, Sandidge and senior Kobe Smith. Having quality depth up front is essential in the SEC. “We are definitely going to need it,” Kinlaw said. “I like where we are headed.”

Bentley’s performance and red-zone execution won’t matter if his receivers don’t catch the ball. Gamecock receivers dropped more than 20 passes last year, many of them in key situations. “There were some touchdowns left out there. There were some momentum-changing drops,” Muschamp said. Edwards and Shi Smith are normally sure-handed receivers, but even they dropped some big passes last season. The receiving corp is a veteran group that spent plenty of time in the offseason catching passes from Bentley and on the JUGS machine. Getting OrTre Smith, who missed last year with a knee injury, back should help. And Feaster is a good pass catcher out of the backfield.

7. Rush The Passer

South Carolina had just 26 sacks (10th in the SEC) last year and Kinlaw led the team with 4.5. Only one other player — linebacker T.J. Brunson — had more than 2.5. Wonnum, who missed five games with injuries, had just two after leading the team with six in 2018. Getting to the quarterback is critical against elite signal-callers like Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, Georgia’s Jake Fromm and Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. Kinlaw, who also batted down five passes, can penetrate the middle, while Wonnum, Enagbare, Keir Thomas and others should be able to rush off the edge. "Stopping the run and making the quarterback uncomfortable are the biggest things for us," Wonnum said

9. Go Fast

Despite the drops, turnovers and poor red-zone execution, South Carolina’s new up-tempo offense was effective at times last year. Bentley and crew averaged eight more snaps per game over 2017 and it resulted in seven more points and almost 100 yards more per game. They scored more than 35 points six times and topped 500 yards five times.

Kobe Smith

“The tempo did help us,” Muschamp said. The offense returns eight starters, and Werner believes the group can play even faster this season. “I feel like we were close last year, but I think you can always go faster,” he said. “I feel like, as an offense, we’re just going to keep on getting better.”

10. Get Joyner On The Field

Dakereon Joyner is battling true freshman Ryan Hilinski for the backup quarterback job, but unless Bentley suffers another injury, nei-

ther will see the field much except in mop-up duty. But Joyner is an explosive athlete with elite running skills and Muschamp may be tempted to get him on the field, whether it’s a special package at quarterback or lined up somewhere in the backfield. He rushed for 60 yards on eight carries in the spring game and fans are clamoring to see what he can do in a real game. Whether he’s under center or split out wide, Joyner could be a game-changing weapon.

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Numbers That Matter 1

South Carolina has the toughest schedule in the country with games vs. Alabama, Clemson and Georgia, the preseason top three. The Gamecocks also face Florida and Texas A&M, two other top-10 teams. Six of the 12 opponents had at least 10 wins last season.

3 4

Four players started every game last year — T.J. Brunson, Sherrod Greene, Sadarius Hutcherson and Donell Stanley. SC had 42 players start games, 13 for the first time in their career.

5.9

6

Number of Gamecocks whose fathers played in the NFL — Jaycee Horn (Joe), Damani Staley (Deuce) and Shilo Sanders (Deion).

Transfer running back Tavien Feaster’s career rushing average at Clemson. South Carolina backs averaged just 4.5 yards per carry last year.

Donell Stanley is a sixth-year senior. When he started his Gamecock career under head coach Steve Spurrier, Zacch Pickens and this year’s freshman class were in the seventh grade.

7 2222

Javon Kinlaw, a 6-6, 300-pound defensive tackle, estimates he has a 7-foot wingspan. His length has helped him deflect eight passes, force three fumbles and block two kicks.

August 2019


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233 2


Numbers That Matter Eleven players have already graduated, including starting offensive lineman Donell Stanley. Sixteen are scheduled to graduate in December, including starters Jake Bentley, Bryan Edwards, T.J. Brunson, Sadarius Hutcherson and Javon Kinlaw.

11 44.8

Joseph Charlton’s punting average last season, a single-season school record. Charlton’s career average of 44.1 is also a school record.

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QB

POSITION PREVIEWS

Dakereon Joyner

Love Of The Game Joyner, Hilinski give Gamecocks two talented backup quarterbacks By Jeff Owens | Executive Editor • Photos by Travis Bell

T

here is no one on the South Carolina team that loves football more than quarterback Jake Bentley. He shows it with his constant film study, his offseason work and his leadership as one of Carolina’s permanent team captains. Bentley sees the same type of commitment from young quarterbacks Dakereon Joyner and Ryan Hilinski, who battled throughout the offseason for the backup job. “The biggest thing is just their love of the game,” Bentley said. “They are constantly wanting to 26 POSITION PREVIEW • QUARTERBACK

for 60 yards. Hilinski showed impressive accuracy, completing 24 of 36 passes and leading two scoring drives. While Hilinski has shown the potential that followed him from Orange Lutheran High School in California, Joyner has worked hard on his passing accuracy. Werner and head coach Will Mushamp have been impressed with his progress. “His throwing has gotten a lot better,” Werner said. “That’s something he has worked really hard on.” “[He had] a fantastic transition from year one to year two,” Muschamp said. “We’re excited about his future.” Hilinski has worked on getting bigger and stronger, but has demonstrated a strong grasp of the South Carolina offense. “I think he’s coming along great for a guy who just stepped on campus less than a year ago. I’m proud of him,” Werner said. “You can tell he has a much better grasp. He knows it inside and out, just like Joyner and Hilinski both looked the other guys do.” good in the Garnet & Black Spring While Joyner has improved as Game and carried their battle into a passer — he threw for more than fall camp. Quarterbacks coach 10,000 yards at Fort Dorchester in Dan Werner was pleased with the North Charleston — his biggest progress of threat is as a both players in runner. Mustraining camp. champ has “Both of hinted that them have he may find played really 3 Ryan Hilinski a way to get hard and are 7 Dakereon Joyner him on the protecting 10 Jay Urich field whether the football 11 Corbett Glick he is playing and doing 14 Connor Jordan quarterback everything we 19 Jake Bentley or not. asked,” he said. For complete roster, see “Well I’m Though page 40. not going to they have give away different skill any secrets, sets — Joyner but I agree was one of [with that],” he said during his the top dual-threat quarterbacks offseason Spurs Up Tour. “Number in the country — Bentley has been one, he’s an unbelievable human impressed with them both. being, a great person. He’s got natu“They are two guys who are just ral leadership ability. He positively hungry to play and hungry to be effects everybody around him.” great,” he said. “They push me every “My biggest thing is just being day just like I try to push them to be more confident and knowing the best they can be.” the offense in and out and being Joyner completed 10 of 23 coachable,” Joyner said. “Just be passes for 185 yards, including a consistent and do what my coaches 62-yard touchdown pass, and led ask. Protect the football and just three scoring drives in the spring play my game.” game. He also rushed eight times Ryan Hilinski

learn and wanting to grow their knowledge of being a quarterback and their knowledge of football in general. That’s one of the things I noticed in myself. I love football and see that in them.” Joyner, South Carolina’s High School Player of the Year in 2016 and the state’s Mr. Football as a senior, played in one game last year while working mostly with the scout team. Hilinski, a high school All-American and 2018 National Player of the Year, was the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the country.

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27


WR

POSITION PREVIEWS

Shi Smith

Another Deebo? Shi Smith poised for breakout year with talented WR group By Josh Hyber | Staff writer •

A

list of similarities between Shi Smith and Deebo Samuel would be lengthy. Fast, of course, followed by sure-handed, explosive and quality route-runner. South Carolina native. Soft-spoken. Well-dressed, especially when it comes to shoes. Also, most importantly to Gamecock fans, an “I’m the best player on the field” mentality. “I think [Shi’s] just as explosive as Deebo,” quarterback Jake Bentley said. “But I think they play different. They can change a game differently. Shi is a great receiver in his own right and definitely has a different skill set. “Definitely a guy who is going to have a big year for us.” Smith shadowed Samuel, the San Francisco 49ers' second-round pick, last season and catapulted himself into the SEC spotlight with 28 POSITION PREVIEW • WIDE RECEIVER

Photo by SC Athletics

W IDE RECEI V ER S

be counted on to be the go-to pass-catching option opposite 6 Josh Vann senior Bryan Edwards. Smith, 8 Randrecous Davis along with Edwards and Or13 Shi Smith Tre Smith, are looking to lead 16 Bailey Hart offensive coordinator Bryan 17 Xavier Legette McClendon’s receiving corps, 18 OrTre Smith a deep unit that also includes 35 Trey Adkins veterans Josh Vann, Randre80 Keveon Mullins cous Davis, Chavis Dawkins 81 Darius Rush and Chad Terrell. 83 Chavis Dawkins “I think we’ve recruited 85 Tyquan Johnson well through the receiver posi86 Chad Terrell tion,” head coach Muschamp 89 Bryan Edwards said. While Edwards, a fouryear starter, is an established star, Shi Smith is poised for a 45 catches for 673 yards. The 5-10, breakout season. He will play more 185-pounder made a reputation outside this season, allowing him to as someone who caught the ball take advantage of his speed. anytime it was thrown to him. “I think Shi has tremendous Now, without Samuel around ball skills at the end of a catch,” as an everyday mentor, Smith will Muschamp said. “He’s got really

good catch radius to be able to finish plays. … Shi can stick his foot in the ground. He can make people miss in space. “We’re expecting a big year from him.” Smith, a junior, rose to the occasion two seasons ago when Samuel missed 10 games with injuries. He caught 29 passes for 409 yards and three touchdowns as a freshman before taking another step as a starter last season. “[Shi is] just a dog, really,” OrTre Smith said. “His mentality, that’s why he makes the plays he does. Nothing’s really changed about him. He’s still the same person. He’s stronger. His mindset is a little different. He’s more mature. He’s just a dog.” With Edwards, who is line to set almost every South Carolina receiving record this season (see page 16), and the Smiths, the Gamecocks have what Bentley calls “one of the more underrated receiving corps out there.” “Guys who can go change a game with one play,” he said. “They each bring a unique skill set and are really just great receivers. I love throwing to them.” “We have the talent to do whatever we want to do,” Edwards said. “We have bigger guys like OrTre Smith. We have smaller guys like Shi Smith. Josh Vann is a guy that’s coming along. “We have all of the tools to be whatever we want to be this year.” It’s a position loaded with talent, but also a unit that needs players to step up and produce. The group needs to find a reliable third option, which could be OrTre Smith. “He’s going to be a beast, honestly,” Edwards said. “He’s a big dude, uses his body well, has good feet. It’s just a matter of time before it’s his time to take over.” “His strength is being able to power through DB’s arms and go get the ball,” Bentley said. “He attacks the ball very well. That’s probably one of his best traits. … That’s one thing that I think is going to help us a lot, knowing I can throw it to him and he’ll go get it.” Add former quarterback Jay Urich and freshmen Keveon Mullins, Xavier Legette and Tyquan Johnson, and Bentley will have no shortage of options when he drops back to pass.

August 2019


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RB

POSITION PREVIEWS

Lead Back

Tavien Feaster gives Gamecocks deeper, more explosive running game By Jeff Owens | Executive Editor Photos by Allen Sharpe and Jenny Dilworth

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here was a lot of excitement surrounding the South Carolina football team when players reported to fall camp on Aug. 1 and hit the field Aug. 2. But it didn’t compare to the buzz when one player showed up for the first time on Saturday, Aug. 3.

Tavien Feaster

30 POSITION PREVIEW • RUNNING BACK

That’s when Clemson transfer Tavien Feaster hit the practice field in his garnet No. 4 jersey, ready to inject some juice into Carolina’s running game. “He’s a hard worker and a talented young man,” head coach Will Muschamp said. “I’m excited he’s here.”

South Carolina has struggled to run the ball in Muschamp’s three seasons. Though last year’s 153 yards per game and 4.5 yards per carry were a slight improvement over 2017, the Gamecocks were 12th in the SEC in rushing. Feaster, a 6-1, 221-pound graduate senior who was part of the Clemson’s 2016 and 2018 national championship teams, is expected to have a big impact. He rushed for 1,330 yards and 15 touchdowns in his three seasons with the Tigers and averaged 5.9 yards per carry. He chose South Carolina over Virginia Tech after deciding to transfer for his final season. “We knew Tavien from recruiting him before. He’s a good young man. He’s got a great family,” Muschamp said. “We reached out to him to see his interest in South Carolina and he came down a couple of times

and really enjoyed it and felt like he fit in here. “It’s a good opportunity for us and him.” “Obviously I liked what I heard and I liked the opportunity here,” Feaster said. “I thought this was the best place for me to come in and help the team right away.” New running backs coach Thomas Brown met with Feaster twice before he arrived on campus and was immediately impressed with his workman-like approach. “He picked the offense up really fast. I love the way he goes about his business,” he said. Feaster said the presence of Brown, the former running backs coach at Georgia and Miami, had a lot to do with his decision. “He has an amazing track record and I like the way he coaches and his intensity, a guy who is going to be on you every day and demands your best.” Feaster, a Spartanburg native, joins a deep and experienced running back group that includes three seniors. Rico Dowdle, who led the Gamecocks with 654 yards last year, is a three-year starter but has struggled with injuries. So has senior Mon Denson, who rushed for 432 yards last season. Senior A.J. Turner has had some big games but will focus primarily on defense this year. Redshirt freshman Deshaun Fenwick and true freshman Kevin Harris are also in the mix. Feaster is challenging Dowdle and Denson for the starting job, though all three could play. Muschamp loves the depth and competition at the position. “Anytime you have more competition, that certainly helps you,” he said. “Iron sharpens iron,” said Denson, repeating a popular mantra among the running backs. “If you have someone behind you just as good as you, they push you to go to a level you have never been.” Brown, who recruited Feaster when he was at Georgia, says South Carolina’s backs have been inconsistent and underachieved the last two years. He believes Feaster will provide more consistency and push the other backs. “I don’t care if you’re a freshman, sophomore, junior or transfer, the best guy is going to play,” he said. “I think there were flashes from a couple of guys who had some highlight moments and highlight games, but it was never back to back. I think competition is a big part of that.

August 2019


“I’ve always said, ‘I don’t care how broken leg as a sophomore and three self-motivated you are, you can never last year with an ankle injury. reach a certain level without being “Rico is very talented but he’s got pushed by guys around you.’” to be healthy,” Muschamp said. “You Feaster has the size to run watch Rico in the weight room, you between the tackles and the speed watch him in workouts, athletically it to break long runs. He’s also an is want you want, he’s just got to stay excellent receiver out of the backfield. healthy.” More importantly, he can make deDowdle has shown flashes of befenders miss, something Muschamp ing a lead back throughout his career. says he hasn’t seen enough the last He’s doing all he can to stay on the few years. field and reach his potential in his “Running final season. back is more “Some of about being the injuries able to play in have been out a phone booth. of my hands. 4 Tavien Feaster You know, They are just 5 Rico Dowdle can you make part of the 14 Deshaun Fenwick a guy miss in risk we take 20 Kevin Harris a short area?” playing the Brown says. game,” he said. 25 A.J. Turner “… There are “I’m trying to 30 Zachariah Doe a bunch of make sure I 32 Caleb Kinlaw guys who can am doing as 33 Slade Carroll kill some stuff much as I can 34 Mon Denson combine-wise on my part to but can’t play stay healthy at all on the and help this football field. That’s the ultimate, team win games.” determining factor.” Brown said Dowdle had his best Dowdle has had a productive offseason and looked good early in career, rushing for 1,669 yards and 12 training camp. touchdowns. He has had six 100-yard “He’s in really good shape,” he games. But he’s also struggled to stay said. “He’s had some really good healthy. He missed five games with a flashes of competing. He has to stay

Rico Dowdle

running b acks

consistent and bring it every single day.” Feaster has been impressed with the other backs. “Those guys are great. They bring the juice every day so you have to stay on your toes and go out there and compete with them.” The presence of Feaster has made all three backs better.

“I think the entire room has been competing well,” Brown said. “I think it has elevated [Rico’s] game. Him and Mon, they’ve been working their butts off.” “[Tavien] has made our whole running back group better," quarterback Jake Bentley said.

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POSITION PREVIEWS

The Incredible ‘Hutch’ 'Freakish' Sadarius Hutcherson stars on talented offensive line By Jeff Owens | Executive Editor • Photos by Jenny Dilworth and SC Athletics

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hen Sadarius Hutcherson first arrived on campus in 2016, fellow freshman Chandler Farrell thought he was a wide receiver. Hutcherson, from Huntingdon, Tenn., was a 240-pound tight end and defensive end. But in his first year on campus, he gained more than 75 pounds and then started four games on the offensive line as a redshirt freshman.

Sadarius Hutcherson

32 POSITION PREVIEW • OFFENSIVE LINE

“I have a picture of Hutch from the first week we showed up on campus together and it’s unbelievable. The guy looks like he should play wide receiver, and now he’s just a house,” Farrell said. “It’s really impressive to see the strides he has made.” Hutcherson has transformed himself into one of the top offensive linemen in the SEC. At 6-4, 320 pounds, the two-year starter has

moved to left tackle and caught the eyes of NFL scouts. “The amount of weight and muscle he has put on is insane,” center Hank Manos said. “I think that gets him on the freak list.” Hutcherson — or “Hutch” to his teammates — is also a freak in the weight room. Widely regarded as the strongest player on the team, his feats of strength have become legendary. During the offseason, he bench-pressed 225 pounds 38

times. He was so dominant on the power clean and squat test that he bent the weight bar. “He is the strongest guy on the team, hands down,” senior linebacker T.J. Brunson said. “He’s one of those people who gets in the weight room and he transforms.” “He is outrageously strong,” Farrell said. “You just take one step into that weight room any day of the week and you will see it. The guy throws just ungodly amounts on the bar in any exercise and he will just crush it like it’s not even there.” Hutcherson was a freakish athlete in high school. He dominated at defensive end, played tight end on offense and was a dunking machine on the basketball court. When he arrived at South Carolina, coaches viewed him as a potential star on the offensive line because of his strength and athleticism. But to become that kind of player, he had to gain a ton of weight. Under the guidance of Nutrition Director Kristin Coggin, Hutcherson eats six meals a day. Breakfast starts with three eggs, three pieces of bacon and three sausages. Snacks between meals consists of two or three peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. His eating habits are as legendary as his feats of strength. Donell Stanley, who often cooks for his teammates on the offensive line, took Hutcherson home with him once for a cookout and seafood boil. Hutcherson ate everything he could get his hands on. “Ten minutes later, he was like, ‘I’ve got to fix me a sandwich,’” Stanley said with a laugh. “If Sadarius is eating with you, you have to have thirds and fourths.” Hutcherson’s growth at the table and in the weight room is an example of his commitment to become one of the best offensive linemen in the nation and help set an example for his teammates. “He’s just a guy that’s worked extremely hard and has completely bought in to the nutrition part of what you’ve got to do to be successful,” Muschamp said. “He’s completely bought in to the weight room. We’re expecting a big year out of Hutch.” “It all started just by staying committed to my eating habits and just staying in the weight room and staying in the playbook and trying

August 2019


to get better at one thing every day,” Hutcherson said. “It was tough for the first month but it all got easier once I started seeing results, and I just kinda fell in love with it.” Stanley, who has been Hutcherson’s mentor the past three years, believes his roommate and best friend is on the verge of being a star. “His mental game is so much better than when he first got here,”

he said. “He’s running meetings with me, he’s answering questions. He’s developed into a great offensive lineman.” Now “Hutch” will move to the all-important left-tackle position, replacing two-year starter Dennis Daley, who was drafted by the Carolina Panthers. Stanley, who will play left guard, believes Hutcherson has what it takes to protect quarterback Jake Bentley’s blind side. “He’s got all the Sadarius Hutcherson intangibles you need Jaylen Nichols to play left tackle,” Jovaughn Gwyn he said. “He’s quick Jakai Moore on his feet, he’s got William Rogers some good power Mark Fox and a good anchor, Chandler Farrell and that’s what folks Cameron Johnson at the next level are Wyatt Campbell looking for.” Hank Manos Hutcherson is one of Eric Douglas three returning starters Donell Stanley on the offensive line along Summie Carlay with Stanley, a four-year Vincent Murphy starter, and right tackle Jordown Carty Dylan Wonnum, who Jordan Rhodes started seven games last M.J. Webb year and was named to Dylan Wonnum the SEC All-Freshman team. Farrell and Manos

Hutcherson, Jake Bentley and Donell Stanley

OF F ENSI V E L INE 50 52 54 55 57 58 60 61 68 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 78 79

Charlie Guarino

Frank Cannon

Jackee Moye

are battling for the starting center position, while either redshirt freshman Jovaughn Gwyn or versatile sophomore Eric Douglas is expected to land the other guard spot. Sophomores Jordan Rhodes and Jordon Carty and freshman Jaylen Nichols will provide depth. Stanley, a sixth-year senior, believes the offensive line is the best

Laurel Suggs

and deepest he’s seen in his six years at South Carolina. “I think with me and Sadarius leading this group, we won’t have any failures or people who are not wanting to come along," he said. "We had a great offseason and I feel confident in this group. We have as much depth as we have ever had.”

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POSITION PREVIEWS

Kyle Markway

Backup Plan Gamecocks turn to Markway, Muse after Pollard injury By Jeff Owens | Executive Editor • Photo by Travis Bell

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hen new tight end Nick Muse transferred to South Carolina this summer, tight ends coach Bobby Bentley was thrilled to get him. “You don’t ever turn down a good tight end, a good wideout. I’ve learned that from coach Muschamp,” Bentley said. “As deep as we can get the tight end room, the better.” Bentley’s words turned out to be prophetic when senior starter Kiel Pollard went down with a careerending neck injury during training camp, leaving the Gamecocks with only one experienced tight end in Kyle Markway. 34 POSITION PREVIEW • TIGHT END

Muse, who arrived in time to participate in preseason training camp, was waiting on a waiver to be eligible to play this season. His availability could be huge after the loss of Pollard, who caught 15 passes, two for touchdowns, last year and was expected to be a big part of the offense this season. Junior tight end Evan Hinson also suffered from an irregular heartbeat in training camp and was expected to miss six to eight weeks. The Gamecocks added two freshman tight ends in Traevon Kenion and KeShawn Toney. With Pollard out, the Gamecocks will likely lean heavily on Markway, a fifth-year junior who

has played in 27 games and caught his first career touchdown pass last year at Florida. Muschamp is a big fan of Markway, who is also a valuable special teams player. “Kyle is a junior, but I’m going to throw him in that category of guys who are very dependable players who are going to be very productive for us,” he said. “He’s a great person,” Bentley said. “In the past I’ve mentioned that he’s kind of that Marcus Lattimore type. He makes everybody around him better. You know, he’s a no-excuse guy and when he makes a mistake he has no traffic report. He doesn’t have any type of excuse on what he did wrong. He just says, ‘Coach, I’ll do better.’" Wide receiver Bryan Edwards believes Markway is ready to contribute more this season. “[Kyle’s] a dude that’s obviously strong, like super strong. One of the strongest guys in the tight end room,” he said. “He can do a lot of things. He’s improved his route running. You can tell he’s catching the ball a lot better. He’s going to be a good player.”

Markway and Muse, whose brother Tanner plays safety for Clemson, could make a solid combination for the Gamecocks. As a sophomore in 2018, Muse was an All-CAA third-team selection. He ranked seventh in the CAA in receiving yards per game (64.7) and second on his team in catches (30), receiving yards (453) and touchdowns catches (1). When asked if the 6-3, 232-pound Muse has a chance to see significant playing time if he is allowed to play, Bentley responded with one word: “Yes.” “He is a guy who can really be a dominant in-line player with his size and athleticism,” Bentley said. “… Yet he can still flex out and do some things on the perimeter that you’d like to do too. “… He’s probably one of the alpha males in the room. He stands out. He’s a leader. He is really going to be special.” When he arrived at South Carolina, Muse became a shadow to Pollard and Markway. He has also watched video of Gamecock alumnus Hayden Hurst, a tight end and first-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens two seasons ago. “… I’m starting to get the hang of things and starting to learn the plays. For the most part I feel like I’m fitting in really well,” he said during training camp. If the waiver is granted, there’s a Nov. 30 game in Columbia the Muse family will be particularly interested in: Nick’s Gamecocks against his brother’s Tigers. “That’d be a big deal. It’s always been in the back of my mind to play against him. I’ve always wanted to play either with him or against him,” Muse said. - Josh Hyber contributed to this story.

T IGH T END S 9 12 15 41 46 82 84 88

Nick Muse Traveon Kenion Evan Hinson Caleb Jenerette Patrick Reedy KeShawn Toney Kyle Markway Will Register

August 2019


A Big Kick

POSITION PREVIEWS ST

Kicker Parker White leads experienced special teams unit By Josh Hyber | Staff writer Photos by Jenny Dilworth and Allen Sharpe

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ike many of his South Carolina teammates, Parker White will graduate school well before his football eligibility expires. A redshirt-junior athletically, the kicker — who was mentioned by head coach Will Muschamp as one of the team’s leaders — has senior academic standing and will graduate in May of 2020. Until then, the plan is simple: Win as many games as possible and make every kick he attempts. “I know that kind of sounds like a cliché, but in all honesty, it just feels so good to win,” White told Spurs & Feathers. “That’s probably my biggest goal right now, along with making every kick. There’s no excuse to miss a kick, really. “I want to make every single kick and I want to win games.” White and senior punter Joseph Charlton — who earned a spot on the All-SEC second team last season and was called by Muschamp “as good a punter as there is in the country” — lead an experienced special teams unit that includes returners A.J. Turner,

Joseph Charlton

August 2019

Bryan Edwards and Shi Smith and long snapper Matt Oliveira. As a junior last season, Charlton set the school record by averaging 44.8 yards per punt and is averaging a school-record 44.1 yards throughout his career. But only one player led the Gamecocks in scoring last season: White. Though he missed 11 field goals in 2017, the Mount Pleasant, S.C. native bounced back last season and made 13 of 16 along with 45 of 46 extra points. His 84 points led the team and bested receivers Deebo Samuel (78 points) and Bryan Edwards (46 points), who finished second and third respectively. White’s résumé also includes three fourth-quarter, gamewinning field goals, including two (against Louisiana Tech in 2017 and Missouri in 2018) that came in the game’s final seconds. “Parker has always been a very calm and cool individual,” said Muschamp, who blamed himself for White’s “shaky” 2017 season. “I don’t blink at all if he’s lining up to take a game winner.” White worked this past summer with a few coaches on refining his kicks from the outside hashmarks from 50-plus yards. He’s working on keeping his head down, placing his plant foot a few inches further downfield and overall staying levelheaded. “Whether it’s a 35-yarder against Missouri in the fourth quarter, down two, or a 35-yarder on the first drive in the opening game to make it 3-0, it’s the same kick,”

Parker White

White said. “It doesn’t really matfoot further downfield is going to ter what the situation is. help me be more consistent. “At the end of the day, I’m just “And I have to keep my head hitting a ball. I just have to make down.” myself believe that. And that helps White, an Atlanta Falcons fan, me be ready for a pressure kick.” has also paid close attention to White has worked hours on Matt Bryant, who kicked for the end with Oliveira, a senior transfer Falcons from 2009-18. from Maryland who will be the “His personality always Gamecocks’ snapper this season. seemed so monotone,” White said. “I’m really looking forward to “Whether or not he made a kick, spending a lot of time together in it was always the same face, same camp,” said White, who added it emotion. normally takes a couple hundred “[Like him], I just want to stay repetitions with a new snapper to in the middle.” get on the same page. Spoken like a true kicker. In June, White and his uncle drove to Nashville, where White worked for about an hour and a half with Tennessee Titans 36 Christian Kinsley kicker and Gamecock 39 Matt Oliveira alumnus (2005-08) Ryan 40 Eddie Buckhouse Succop. They spent time 42 Alexander Woznick kicking together and also 43 Parker White analyzed video. 45 Alex Herrera “Sometimes I have a bad 47 Cole Hanna habit of planting too shal48 Will Tommie low, where I need to have it 59 Matthew Bailey further down field,” White 62 Max Durschlag said. “But it’s just a matter 85 Michael Almond of inches. It’s a super small thing, but getting my plant

SP ECI A L T E A MS

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POSITION PREVIEWS

Keir Thomas, D.J. Wonnum, Javon Kinlaw

Tough Guys

Wonnum-led defensive line has talent, depth to dominate By Jeff Owens | Executive Editor • Photos by SC Athletics and Travis Bell

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fter an all-star caliber season as a sophomore, D.J. Wonnum entered 2018 with high hopes and plenty of hype. But Wonnum didn’t even make it out of the season opener before going down with an ankle injury. The junior defensive end/Buck missed five games, costing the defense its best pass rusher. “It was very frustrating, but everything happens for a reason. I think it set me up to have a great season this year,” Wonnum said. No one is more motivated entering 2019 than Wonnum, a team cap36 POSITION PREVIEW • DEFENSIVE LINE

tain and three-time SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week. “I’m extremely hungry. I’ve got to make up for lost time,” he said. “I feel like this year is going to be a big year for me and I’m ready to go.” Wonnum leads a talented defensive line that finally has the depth Will Muschamp has been looking for up front. He is one of five seniors that the group will lean heavily on. “I’m really going to put a lot of pressure on our five seniors up front,” Muschamp said. “We need those five guys to play well, and they should.”

Wonnum will be backed up by senior Daniel Fennell and junior Brad Johnson at the Buck position. The other defensive end position features returning starter Aaron Sterling, senior Keir Thomas, sophomore J.J. Enagbare and freshman Joseph Anderson. The interior, led by new defensive line coach John Scott Jr., features another all-star candidate and NFL prospect Javon Kinlaw. He will team with senior Kobe Smith, sophomore Rick Sandidge, five-star freshman Zacch Pickens as well as Thomas and

Jabari Ellis, who can both play inside and outside. “We have five or six guys we feel like are going to be able to help us,” Scott said. “That’s so important because the more guys you can play, the harder they can go. The more guys you can roll at an offensive line can be a big-time advantage.” With talent, depth and experience, the coaching staff believes the defensive line will be the strength of the defense. A key emphasis will be stopping the run and generating a better pass rush. The Gamecocks gave up 195 yards rushing per game last year (13th in the SEC) and had just 26 sacks (10th). “We have the experience, we have the size, we have the talent, we have speed, we have strength,” Wonnum said. “We have all that. It’s just putting it all together. We are going to shock a lot of people this year.” The key is Wonnum, who led South Carolina with 13 tackles for loss and six sacks as a sophomore. Three of his 11 tackles last year were for losses, including two sacks against Tennessee. He should help the defense against the run and putting pressure on opposing QBs. “He’s a special guy,” said Scott, who coached in the NFL. “He can set the edge for us, he can rush the passer. I was with the Jets for two years and when I look at his body type, I look at his athleticism, he was better than some of the guys we had up there. I think he has a lot of potential. He could be special for us.” More importantly, he is a key leader on the defense and the whole team. “He’s very instinctive, he’s very smart,” Muschamp said. “We missed that when he only played five games for us last year. It hurt us.” “He’s always been a reliable guy with how he comes to prepare for practice and everything. He’s locked in every day,” said senior linebacker and defensive captain T.J. Brunson. “He’s a big leader for us, so it’s huge to have him back.” The other key player on the defensive line is Kinlaw, the 6-6, 310-pound tackle who has garnered numerous preseason accolades. A two-year starter, he can clog the middle, attract double teams and get into the backfield. “It’s going to be a rough year for some offensive linemen, because that big boy is going to get after it this year,” Wonnum said. “I’m excited to watch him play.”

August 2019


Scott just smiles when asked about Kinlaw. “A guy that big, Javon is physical and he is a tough-minded guy,” he said. “I like the way he practices; he practices hard. He came into camp in shape so he is moving around well. It’s a pleasure when you have a guy who can be disruptive like that and

play the way you want him Zach Pickens to play.” Scott compares Kinlaw to another all-star he coached with the Jets — twotime All-American and Pro Bowler Leonard Williams. “There are not many 6-6, 300-plus pound guys that have his athleticism,” Scott said. “He’s really strong and he’s got something that only God can give you — Javon Kinlaw extremely long arms Keir Thomas so he can separate off blockers. If you had to D.J. Wonnum draw up the body type Aaron Sterling for that league, that’s the Rodricus Fitten body type.” Brad Johnson The Gamecocks Zacch Pickens to do some big things for us this year. may have another Daniel Fennell The sky’s the limit for him.” budding star in Pickens, MusGriffin Gentry Pickens was rated the No. 2 champ’s first five-star signee Donovan Wirt defensive lineman in the country at South Carolina. The 6-3, J.J. Enagbare coming out of high school and was 300-pound tackle has made Jazuun Outlaw also a 1,000-yard rusher on offense. an impression already and is Alex DeLoach Scott says he’s advanced beyond his expected to make an impact as a Rick Sandidge years in size and strength. freshman. Jaquaze Sorrells “He’s got really, really good size “He’s just getting used to Tyreek Johnson and strength for a freshman coming college football, but he is going to Joseph Anderson in. He’s got like a junior body right be a good player,” Wonnum said. Kobe Smith now as a freshman, so that certainly “He has the size and strength and Devontae Davis helps,” he said. “For him, it’s just speed. I’m pretty sure he’s going Jabari Ellis developing the mental part, and that’s coming.”

DEF ENSI V E L INE 3 5 8 15 16 19 26 35 50 51 52 57 59 90 91 92 93 95 97 99

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With at least three potential stars and plenty of depth and experience, Scott believes the defense can be a force up front, helping the Gamecocks improve on the 30 points and 424 yards of total offense they allowed last season. "I want us to be the toughest group we can be,” he said. “We are the core of the defense and you are only as strong as your core. I want to make us a tough, physical group.”

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DEFENSIVE LINE • POSITION PREVIEW 37


LB

POSITION PREVIEWS

Man Down, Man Up Gamecocks building solid depth at linebacker By Josh Hyber | Staff writer • Photo by Allen Sharpe

“M

an Down, Man Up” has been one of South Carolina’s go-to mantras since Will Muschamp took over as head coach, and it’s something Ernest Jones has personified. Jones, the South Carolina middle linebacker, took first-team reps while senior incumbent T.J. Brunson sat out spring practice with a knee injury. “Being the starter, I learned the talent we have and everything that surrounds the linebackers,” Jones said. “We’re capable of doing a lot better than we’ve put out there. We’ve definitely grown as a group and as a whole team, defensive-wise, and we’re going to a good place. “Overall, all the work we’ve put in, spring and summer, it’s going

Ernest Jones

38 POSITION PREVIEW • LINEBACKERS

to show Aug. 31 that we are a really good team.” While Brunson sat out spring practice, he saw potential in Jones, Sherrod Greene, Eldridge Thompson, Damani Staley and Rosendo Louis Jr. “All of those guys can ball and that’s not even something I question,” the Columbia native said. “They put in a lot of work this offseason. Film, weight room. They’ve [played in] a lot of games. Seeing those guys, it makes me more excited knowing I get to play with those guys.” Like Jones, the 6-1, 230-pound Brunson said the Gamecocks’ performance last season — particularly the defense

L INEB ACK ER S 6 T.J. Brunson 11 Eldridge Thompson 23 Derek Boykins 30 Damani Staley 40 Jahmar Brown 42 Rosendo Louis Jr. 44 Sherrod Greene 45 Spencer Eason-Riddle 46 Noah Vincent 48 Sean McGonigal 53 Ernest Jones For complete roster, see page 40.

and linebackers — wasn’t indicative of what its capable of. “The things that happened aren’t necessarily what we wanted to happen,” he said. “That’s the game, adversity and how you bounce back from that. Looking at film from last year, guys understand that. They see what we can improve on and what needs to be improved on to have a better season. People are buying in to that.” Along with Brunson and Jones, Thompson, a sixth-year senior, entered fall camp as the starting strongside linebacker but is coming off a season in which he played only three games because of a shoulder injury that also limited him during spring. Derek Boykins, a true freshman, is a backup at middle linebacker behind Jones, who himself played only five games last season. Greene, who started all 13 games and had 73 tackles,

was listed ahead of Staley at weakside linebacker. Jones, a 6-2, 235-pound sophomore, made 16 tackles (10 solo) last season and should benefit from a significant increase in playing time. “I thought Ernest did some really nice things [during the spring] from a communicating standpoint,” Muschamp said. “We put a lot on our Mike linebacker, and I thought Ernest did a really nice job of transitioning to be that guy. That was really good for him.” “I bring a different kind of physicality to the game,” Jones said at South Carolina’s Media Day. “I feel like I’m a very physical player and I feel that’s going to take me a long way. “And then me getting a lot faster this summer and just me being smart and able to dissect offenses and pre-snap reads, I feel like those three things are going to make me a better linebacker.” “[Ernest is] a really smart guy,” Brunson said. “He watches a lot of film too. He’s pretty big. He’s got some heavy hands. I’m looking forward to watching him make plays. He’s a guy that will fly around and make stuff happen. I’m pretty sure he’s more than ready.” Gamecock coaches may decide to keep Jones in the middle and use Brunson as an outside linebacker (a position he played when former Gamecock Skai Moore was on campus) — something Brunson said he would be comfortable doing. “Knowing that you’re playing next to a guy that you can trust and you know that person knows what they’re doing, it makes things a lot easier,” he said. But playing time at the position is up for grabs. Only two linebackers — Brunson (T-7) and Greene (32) — ranked in the top 50 in the SEC in tackles last season. Jones said the atmosphere and feeling around the group has changed. “You can tell everyone stepped up their game this summer,” he said. “Everybody’s bringing a new attitude to it, because no one likes to lose. … We’ve done even more than what’s necessary to become a better unit and a better team. “I’m excited about what’s to come from this group.”

August 2019


POSITION PREVIEWS DB

Terrific Tandem Horn, Mukuamu lead young but talented secondary By Josh Hyber | Staff writer • Photo by SC Athletics

I

t’s almost as if Jaycee Horn and Israel Mukuamu are tied at the hip. During training camp last August, Will Muschamp realized the two cornerbacks had missed curfew. “It turns out they were back in the film room watching practice,” Muschamp told Spurs & Feathers in July before repeating the story publicly. “Those are the kind of things I’m talking about when it comes to intangibles. Because at the end of the day, the really good players I’ve been around are the ones who do it when the coaches aren’t watching.” In the spring, both Horn and Mukuamu said the duo has the potential to be the best cornerback tandem in college football, let alone the SEC. “I think we can be the best tandem in the country because we hold each other accountable,” Mukuamu said. “If I’m having a bad practice, he tells me to get better. If he’s having a bad practice, I tell him the same. “I think we can potentially be the best tandem in the country.” “We talk about that a lot. That’s mostly our conversations, talking

about the future and how good we can be and to push each other on and off the field,” Horn said. “If I hear he’s going to work out, I’m going to work out. When I’m going to work out, he’s coming with me.” Now entering their sophomore seasons, Horn and Mukuamu lead a talented but young secondary that includes safety/nickelback R.J. Roderick, safeties J.T. Ibe and Jamel Cook, the versatile Jamyest Williams and freshmen Jammie Robinson, Shilo Sanders and Cam Smith. “Israel and Jaycee both are guys that have excelled for us in the offseason. … I’m excited about the progress they’ve made,” Muschamp said. “J.T. Ibe and Jamyest Williams have made great strides at the safety position. Jamel Cook has had a good summer. “We’ve got some young players that we’re excited about. We’ll play those guys.”

The position group projects to have three sophomore starters — Horn, Mukuamu and Roderick, who played mostly quarterback in high school and didn’t factor into SC’s plans in the secondary until mid-season last year — and a senior, J.T. Ibe, who started the only four games he played last season before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Senior A.J. Turner, who has primarily played running back during his career, entered fall camp listed as the primary backup behind Horn and Mukuamu. Williams came into camp having missed five games last season with a season-ending shoulder surgery. The Gamecocks also have Cook, who sat out last season after transferring from the University of Southern California. But the unit centers around the 6-1, 200-pound Horn and the 6-4, 205-pound Mukuamu, good

friends who have almost become inseparable. Last season, Horn became just the seventh true freshman to start a season-opener for the Gamecocks. In 11 games (10 starts), he had 45 tackles, two sacks and eight pass breakups en route to being named to the SEC All-Freshmen Team. Mukuamu made two starts in 13 games and made 17 tackles, one pass breakup, one forced fumble and came down with one interception. “Number one, he’s 6-5 with cleats on. It’s crazy when you think he’s 6-5 lining up in front of receivers,” Horn said of Mukuamu. “… It’s almost like he smothers receivers. There’s nowhere for them to get off the line. There’s nowhere they can run. Sometimes they just stop in the middle of their route. “… Six-five is big, man. I don’t see how he moves like that at 6-5.” “[Facing them in practice] definitely makes me better as a quarterback. It’s hard, it’s challenging. It makes you play differently,” quarterback Jake Bentley said. “You can’t just throw a fade up to a guy because they are going to go get it more than the receiver. You have to be strategic in how you throw. “Jaycee and Israel are just really two great corners.” Just how good may determine how well South Carolina’s defense plays this season.

DEF ENSI V E B ACKS 1 4 7 9 10 12 21 22 24 25 27 29 31 39 47

Jaycee Horn Jaylin Dickerson Jammie Robinson Cam Smith R.J. Roderick Shilo Sanders Jamyest Williams John Dixon Israel Mukuamu A.J. Turner Kevin Pickens J.T. Ibe Jamel Cook Dawson Hoffman Jordan Villafane

August 2019

Jaycee Horn

Israel Mukuamu DEFENSIVE BACKS • POSITION PREVIEW 39


2019 ROSTER NO 1 3 3 4 4 5 5 6 6 7 7 8 8 9 9 10 10 11 11 12 12 12 13 14 14 15 15 16 16 17 18 19 19 20 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 29 30 30 31 31 32 33 34 35 35 36 39 39 40 40 41 42 42 43 44 45 45 46 46

NAME Jaycee Horn Ryan Hilinski Javon Kinlaw Jaylin Dickerson Tavien Feaster Rico Dowdle Keir Thomas T.J. Brunson Josh Vann Dakereon Joyner Jammie Robinson Randrecous Davis D.J. Wonnum Nick Muse Cam Smith R.J. Roderick Jay Urich Corbett Glick Eldridge Thompson Traevon Kenion Kevin Pickens Shilo Sanders Shi Smith Deshaun Fenwick Connor Jordan Evan Hinson Aaron Sterling Rodricus Fitten Bailey Hart Xavier Legette OrTre Smith Jake Bentley Brad Johnson Joseph Charlton Kevin Harris Jamyest Williams John Dixon Derek Boykins Israel Mukuamu A.J. Turner Zacch Pickens J.T. Ibe Zachariah Doe Damani Staley Jamel Cook Chandler Farrell Caleb Kinlaw Slade Carroll Mon Denson Trey Adkins Daniel Fennell Christian Kinsley Dawson Hoffman Matt Oliveira Jahmar Brown Eddie Buckhouse Caleb Jenerette Rosendo Louis Jr. Alexander Woznick Parker White Sherrod Greene Spencer Eason-Riddle Alex Herrera Patrick Reedy Noah Vincent

40 SEASON PREVIEW • 2019 ROSTER

POS DB QB DL DB RB RB DL LB WR QB DB WR B/S TE DB DB WR/QB QB LB TE DB DB WR RB QB TE DL B/S WR WR WR QB B/S P RB DB DB LB DB DB/RB DL DB RB LB DB OL RB RB RB WR B/S P DB LS LB PK TE LB PK PK LB LB K/P TE LB

HT/WT 6-1, 200 6-3, 230 6-6, 310 6-1, 195 6-0, 221 6-0, 215 6-2, 275 6-1, 230 5-10, 185 6-1, 205 5-11, 200 5-10, 190 6-5, 260 6-3, 232 6-0, 185 6-0, 200 6-5, 210 6-1, 204 6-1, 225 6-3, 225 5-8, 189 6-0, 190 5-10, 190 6-1, 230 6-4, 197 6-4, 245 6-1, 250 6-1, 245 6-3, 185 6-0, 205 6-4, 220 6-4, 220 6-2, 250 6-5, 190 5-10, 225 5-8, 180 6-0, 190 6-1, 226 6-4, 205 5-10, 190 6-3, 300 5-10, 195 6-0, 202 6-1, 235 6-4, 200 6-3, 295 5-10, 202 5-9, 205 5-10, 215 5-11, 170 6-2, 255 6-2, 245 5-11, 200 6-3, 208 6-1, 205 5-8, 159 6-2, 227 6-2, 250 5-11, 165 6-5, 200 6-1, 230 6-0, 230 5-11, 186 6-7, 250 6-1, 215

CLASS SO FR SR SO-RS SR SR SR SR SO FR-RS FR JR-RS SR JR FR SO SO-RS FR-RS SR-RS FR SR-RS FR JR FR-RS FR JR-RS JR FR JR-RS FR SO-RS SR JR SR-RS FR JR FR FR SO SR-RS FR SR-RS FR JR JR-RS JR-RS SR-RS JR-RS SR-RS FR-RS SR-RS JR-RS FR-RS SR-RS FR FR-RS SO-RS SO JR-RS JR-RS JR JR-RS FR FR-RS FR-RS

HOMETOWN Alpharetta, Ga. Orange, Calif. Charleston, S.C. Southern Pines, N.C. Spartanburg, S.C Asheville, N.C. Miami Columbia, S.C. Tucker, Ga. North Charleston, S.C. Leesburg, Ga. Atlanta Stone Mountain, Ga. Belmont, N.C. Blythewood, S.C. Summerville, S.C. Greenville, S.C. Columbia, S.C. Houston Monroe, N.C. Anderson, S.C. Cedar Hill, Texas Union, S.C. Bradenton, Fla. Raleigh, N.C. Deltona, Fla. Atlanta Atlanta Mount Pleasant, S.C. Mullins, S.C. Mount Pleasant, S.C. Opelika, Ala. Pendleton, S.C. Columbia, S.C. Hinesville, Ga. Dacula, Ga. Tampa, Fla. Concord, N.C. Bossier City, La. Clifton, Va. Anderson, S.C. Mansfield, Texas Ridgeland, S.C. Columbia, S.C. Miami Summerville, S.C. Goose Creek, S.C. Lexington, S.C. LaGrange, Ga. Simpsonville, S.C. Loganville, Ga. Lexington, S.C. Spartanburg, S.C. Watchung, N.J. Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Florence, S.C. Aynor, S.C. Deerfield Beach, Fla. Greenville, S.C. Mount Pleasant, S.C. Rocky Mount, N.C. Raleigh, N.C. Columbia, S.C. Columbia, S.C. Buford, S.C.

NO 47 47 48 48 49 50 50 51 52 52 53 54 55 57 57 58 59 59 61 62 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 95 97 99

NAME Cole Hanna Jordan Villafane Sean McGonigal Will Tommie Jaylan Foster Griffin Gentry Sadarius Hutcherson Donovan Wirt Kingsley Enagbare Jaylen Nichols Ernest Jones Jovaughn Gwyn Jakai Moore Jazuun Outlaw William Rogers Mark Fox Matthew Bailey Alex DeLoach Cameron Johnson Max Durschlag Gavin Bennett Wyatt Campbell John Kanaan Hank Manos Eric Douglas Donell Stanley Summie Carlay Vincent Murphy Jordon Carty Jordan Rhodes M.J. Webb Dylan Wonnum Keveon Mullins Darius Rush KeShawn Toney Chavis Dawkins Kyle Markway Michael Almond Tyquan Johnson Chad Terrell Kiel Pollard Will Register Bryan Edwards Rick Sandidge Jaquaze Sorrells Tyreek Johnson Joseph Anderson Kobe Smith Devontae Davis Jabari Ellis

POS PK DB LB PK DB DL OL B/S DL OL LB OL OL DL OL OL LS B/S OL LS OL OL TE OL OL OL OL OL OL OL OL OL WR WR TE WR TE K/P WR WR TE TE WR DL DL DL DL DL DL DL

HT/WT 5-7, 180 5-10, 175 6-1, 225 5-10, 170 5-10, 184 6-1, 275 6-4, 320 6-2, 242 6-4, 260 6-5, 320 6-2, 235 6-2, 305 6-5, 295 6-2, 235 6-3, 310 6-4, 300 6-2, 185 6-3, 212 6-6, 302 5-9, 203 6-2, 250 6-6, 308 6-4, 260 6-4, 290 6-4, 315 6-3, 322 6-5, 295 6-2, 290 6-7, 310 6-4, 330 6-3, 290 6-5, 310 6-1, 220 6-2, 195 6-2, 240 6-2, 225 6-4, 250 6-3, 223 6-3, 180 6-3, 220 6-1, 235 6-4, 245 6-3, 215 6-5, 300 6-2, 315 6-3, 270 6-3, 280 6-2, 300 6-3, 300 6-3, 280

CLASS FR-RS SO-RS SO-RS SR-RS RS-JR JR-RS JR-RS JR-RS SO FR SO FR-RS FR JR-RS FR FR FR SO-RS JR-RS RS-FR FR FR-RS FR-RS FR-RS SO-RS SR-RS SO-RS FR SO-RS SO-RS SO-RS SO FR FR-RS FR SR JR-RS SR-RS FR SO-RS SR SO-RS SR SO FR FR-RS FR SR JR-JC JR-RS

HOMETOWN Norcross, Ga. East Stroudsburg, Pa. Myrtle Beach, S.C. Greenwood, S.C. Duncan, S.C. Birmingham, Ala. Huntingdon, Tenn. Raeford, N.C. Atlanta Charlotte Waycross, Ga. Charlotte Nokesville, Va. Dillon, S.C. Hampton, Ga. Miami Deland, Fla. Summerville, S.C. Bennettsville, S.C. Charlotte Rock Hill, S.C. Elgin, S.C. Piedmont, S.C. Chapin, S.C. Charlotte Floydale, S.C. Laurens, S.C. Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Lauderdale Lakes, Fla. Fairburn, Ga. Rutledge, Ga. Tucker, Ga. Memphis, Tenn. Kingstree, S.C. Williston, S.C. Duncan, S.C. St. Louis North Augusta, SC Sylvania, Ga. Bogue Chitto, Miss. Moultrie, Ga. Chapin, S.C Conway, S.C. Concord, N.C. Winter Park, Fla. Sumter, S.C. Murfreesboro, Tenn. Lawrenceville, Ga. New Ellenton, S.C. Vance, S.C.

COACHES Will Muschamp Head Coach | Bryan McClendon Offensive Coordinator/Receivers Travaris Robinson Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs Bobby Bentley Tight Ends | Thomas Brown Running Backs Coleman Hutzler Special Teams/Linebackers | Kyle Krantz Nickels/Sam Linebackers Mike Peterson Outside Linebackers | John Scott Jr. Defensive Line Dan Werner Quarterbacks | Eric Wolford Offensive Line Jeff Dillman Strength & Conditioning

August 2019


2019 DEPTH CHART

OFFENSE

DEFENSE

POS NO WR 89 18 86

NAME Bryan Edwards OrTre Smith Chad Terrell

WR or

6 8

Josh Vann Randrecous Davis

WR

13 83

TE

POS NO DE 5 or 15 or 52 99

NAME Keir Thomas Aaron Sterling J.J. Enagbare Jabari Ellis

Shi Smith Chavis Dawkins

DT or

95 90 5

Kobe Smith Rick Sandidge Keir Thomas

84 9

Kyle Markway *Nick Muse

DT

3 26

Javon Kinlaw Zach Pickens

LT

50 75

Sadarius Hutcherson Eric Douglas

LG

72 76

Donell Stanley Jordan Rhodes

BUCK or

8 19 35

D.J. Wonnum Brad Johnson Danny Fennell

SLB

11

Eldridge Thompson

C

70 71

Hank Manos Eric Douglas

or

35

Danny Fennell

RG

71 54

Eric Douglas Jovaughn Gwyn

MLB

6 53

T.J. Brunson Ernest Jones

RT

79 71

Dylan Wonnum Eric Douglas

WLB

44 30

Sherrod Greene Damani Staley

QB or

19 7 3

Jake Bentley Dakereon Joyner Ryan Hilinski

CB

1 25

Jaycee Horn A.J. Turner

POS NO NAME PK 43 Parker White 42 Alexander Woznick

CB

24 25

Israel Mukuamu A.J. Turner

P

S or

29 31

J.T. Ibe Jamel Cook

LS

39

Matt Oliveira

S

10 21 7

R.J. Roderick Jamyest Williams Jammie Robinson

H

20 16

Joseph Charlton Bailey Hart

N

10 21 7

R.J. Roderick Jamyest Williams Jammie Robinson

PR or

89 13 6

Bryan Edwards Shi Smith Josh Vann

KR

25 13

A.J. Turner Shi Smith

RB 4 Tavien Feaster or 5 Rico Dowdle or 34 Mon Denson * Muse is waiting on an appeal to be eligible this season after transferring

August 2019

SPECIALISTS

20 36

Joseph Charlton Christian Kinsley

41


2019 SCHEDULE DATE OPP TIME/ TV AUG. 31

North Carolina (Charlotte)

3:30pm/ ESPN

SEPT. 7

Charleston Southern

NOON/ SEC NETWORK

SEPT. 14

Alabama

3:30/ CBS

SEPT. 21

at Missouri

TBA/ TBA

SEPT. 28

Kentucky

TBA/ TBA

OCT. 12

at Georgia

TBA/ TBA

OCT. 19

Florida TBA/

OCT. 26

at Tennessee

TBA/ TBA

NOV. 2

Vanderbilt

TBA/ TBA

NOV. 9

Appalachian State

TBA/ TBA

NOV. 16

at Texas A&M

NOV. 30

Clemson

TBA/

TBA

TBA

TBA/ TBA

For up to date game times and TV coverage, visit spursandfeathers.com *Home games highlighted in bold

4422

August 2019


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43


North Carolina TAR HEELS 2018 record: 2-9 (7th in ACC Coastal) | Projection: 6th in ACC Coastal | Returning Starters: 12 Record vs. SC: 34-19-4 | Head Coach: Mack Brown | Overall record: 244-122-1 | At North Carolina: 69-46-1 Offensive Coordinator: Phil Long | Defensive Coordinators: Jay Bateman, Tommy Thigpen

WR Dazz Newsome Photos by Jeffrey H. Camarati and Alex Kormann/ UNC Athletic Communications

T

he season opener against North Carolina will be a reunion of sorts for Will Muschamp and Mack Brown. Muschamp served as Brown’s defensive coordinator at Texas from 2008-10. The two will square off for the first time as head coaches

KEY PLAYERS Michael Carter, RB— Led the Tar Heels with 597 yards rushing and has averaged 6.4 yards per carry through his first two seasons. Dazz Newsome, WR — Led North Carolina with 44 receptions for 506 yards. Also had an 84-yard touchdown run and a 75-yard return for a TD. Charlie Heck, OT — Left tackle has started 22 straight games. Jason Strowbridge, NT —Had 7.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks as junior.

44 OPPONENT PREVIEW • NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS

on Aug. 31 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. “I admire Will and pull for him,” Brown said. “You never like coaching against your buddies. But that’s the way it is. You forget that when kickoff starts.” Brown coached North Carolina for 10 seasons before leaving for Texas, where he led the Longhorns to the 2005 national championship and played in the 2009 national title game. He led the Tar Heels to two

of their best seasons — 10-2 and 11-1 in 1996-97. He has a big rebuilding job in his return to North Carolina, which has won just five games the past two seasons and has just three wins in its last 24 against FBS competition. Brown has just 12 returning starters and likely will have a freshman quarterback. Brown was 3-1 against South Carolina while in Chapel Hill. The last time the two teams met, the Gamecocks won 17-13 in Charlotte. — Jeff Owens

2019 SCHEDULE

2018 RESULTS

South Carolina (Charlotte) Miami at Wake Forest App State Clemson at Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech Duke Virginia at Pittsburgh Mercer at NC State

DNP L 10-47 DNP DNP DNP L 28-38 L 19-22 L 35-42 L 35-42 W 38-35 DNP L 28-34

2018 STATS/RANK

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING:

“I know more than I did last time I was here, and I’m more mature than I was last time I was here. We want to win, and we want to win in the opener. That’s just part of who we are.” — Mack Brown

OFFENSE Scoring Rushing Passing Total

PER GAME 27.4 ppg 193 ypg 249.1 ypg 442.1 ypg

ACC 11 6 6 5

NATL 78 44 48 31

DEFENSE Scoring Rushing Passing Total

PER GAME 34.5 ppg 218.8 ypg 228.8 ypg 447.6 ypg

ACC 13 13 9 12

NATL 106 111 64 105

August 2019


Charleston Southern BUCCANEERS 2018 record: 5-6 (3-5 in Big South) | Projection: 3rd in Big South | Returning Starters: 10 Record vs. SC: 0-0 | Head Coach: Autry Denson | Overall record: First Season | At Charleston Southern: First Season | Offensive Coordinator: Felton Huggins | Defensive Coordinators: Zane Vance, Bryant Foster

C

harleston Southern was on its way to establishing itself as one of the top FCS teams in the nation just a few years ago. The Bucs made the FCS Playoffs in 2015 and 2016, reaching the quarterfinals in 2015 and spent 35 straight weeks ranked in the top 25. The program has struggled the last two seasons, however, finishing 6-5 in 2017 and then 5-6 last season. Enter new head coach Autry Denson, the running backs coach at Notre Dame the past four seasons. Denson should be a good fit for the Bucs, which were third in the Big South in rushing with 168.5 yards per game. They also played sound defense, ranking second in the conference and 22nd nationally in total defense. Charleston Southern will make its first trip to WilliamsBrice, serving as the Gamecocks’ home opener. — Jeff Owens

2019 SCHEDULE

2018 RESULTS

at Furman at South Carolina NC A&T at The Citadel Savannah State at Kennesaw State at North Alabama Monmouth at Gardner-Webb Hampton at Presbyterian Campbell

DNP DNP DNP L 14-43 L 3-23 L 10-38 DNP L 3-37 W 16-0 W 48-14 W 41-7 W 12-7

Head Coach Autry Denson Photo by Charleston Southern

KEY PLAYERS

2018 STATS/RANK OFFENSE Scoring Rushing Passing Total

PER GAME 21.2 ppg 168.5 ypg 83 ypg 251.5 ypg

BS 4 3 6 6

NATL 99 55 123 119

DEFENSE Scoring Rushing Passing Total

PER GAME 23.5 ppg 185.2 ypg 139.4 ypg 324.5 ypg

BS 2 3 2 2

NATL 32 73 4 22

August 2019

J.D. Sosebee, LB — Senior was third on the team last season with 72 tackles, including 6.5 tackles for loss. Zack Evans, OL — Senior guard is a preseason Big South pick after starting 11 games last year. Terrance Wilson, RB — Led the Bucs with 540 yards rushing last season, averaging 6.2 yards per carry and scoring six touchdowns. Kyle Reighard, P — Senior punter was second in the Big South last season with a 40.9-yard average..

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING:

“There are very few times in life, very few opportunities when you have the chance to do something which is the status of legendary. I feel that today, right now, that is the time we have here at Charleston Southern. We have the chance to do something that has not been done, both on and off the field.” — Autry Denson

CHARLESTON SOUTHERN BUCCANEERS • OPPONENT PREVIEW 45


Alabama CRIMSON TIDE 2018 record: 14-1 (8-0 in SEC) | Projection: 1st in SEC West; SEC Championship | Returning Starters: 13 Record vs. SC: 12-3 | Head Coach: Nick Saban | Overall record: 237-63-1 | At Alabama: 12-3 Offensive Coordinator: Steve Sarkisian | Defensive Coordinator: Pete Golding

Alabama vs. South Carolina, 2010 Photo by Allen Sharpe

N

ick Saban will never forget his first trip to Williams-Brice Stadium. The defending national champions got thumped by the Gamecocks, 35-21 in 2010. Saban’s Crimson Tide arrived in Columbia ranked No. 1 and riding a 19-game winning streak. But Stephen Garcia was magical and Steve Spurrier outsmarted a team that finished 10-3 before

KEY PLAYERS Tua Tagovailoa, QB — Heisman runnerup threw for 3,966 yards and 43 touchdowns. Najee Harris, RB — A backup last year, Harris averaged 6.7 yards per carry. Jerry Jeudy, WR — Considered the top WR in the country, Jeudy averaged 19.3 yards on 68 catches. Dylan Moses, LB — Led the Tide with 86 tackles last year.

46 OPPONENT PREVIEW • ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE

Saban won four more national championships. “I remember quite a bit. We got the lining kicked out of our britches,” Saban said at SEC Media Days. Saban returns to Columbia Sept. 14 and enters the season ranked No. 1 again. The Tide is angry after a staggering beating by Clemson in last year’s national title game. And with Heisman Trophy candidate Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback, the nation’s top receiver in Jerry Jeudy and another stout defense, Saban is expected to play for a sixth national championship (seventh overall).

He knows, however, that may depend on whether he can survive another trip to WilliamsBrice. “We have a lot of respect for Will and what he’s done at South Carolina and the team they have,” Saban said. “It’s always a challenging place to play. That’s going to be a difficult game for us and our players need to be ready to go.” — Jeff Owens

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING:

“I think that our players learned a lot from that experience. I think that we didn't play with the discipline at the end of the season that we'd like to have as a team. I don't think that our preparation … was what it needed to be. … It seems like we had a lot of distractions at the end of the year. So hopefully we learned from those scenarios.” — Nick Saban on loss to Clemson in National Championship game

2019 SCHEDULE

2018 RESULTS

Duke (Atlanta) New Mexico St. at South Carolina Southern Miss Ole Miss at Texas A&M Tennessee Arkansas LSU at Miss State Western Carolina at Auburn

DNP DNP DNP DNP W 62-7 W 45-23 W 58-21 W 65-31 W 29-0 W 24-0 DNP W 52-21 SEC Championship Georgia W 35-28 CFP Oklahoma W 45-34 CFP Clemson L 16-44

2018 STATS/RANK OFFENSE Scoring Rushing Passing Total

PER GAME 45.6 ppg 198.4 ypg 323.6 ypg 522 ypg

SEC 1 7 2 1

NATL 3 42 6 6

DEFENSE Scoring Rushing Passing Total

PER GAME 18.1 ppg 121.3 ypg 200.6 ypg 321.9 ypg

SEC 3 3 5 3

NATL 12 19 33 16

August 2019


Missouri TIGERS 2018 record: 8-5 (4-4 in SEC) | Projection: 3rd in SEC East | Returning Starters: 14 Record vs. SC: 4-4 | Head Coach: Barry Odom | Overall record: 19-19 | At Missouri: 19-19 Offensive Coordinator: Derek Dooley | Defensive Coordinator: Ryan Walters

M

issouri is charged with replacing the most prolific passer in school history in four-year starter Drew Lock. They will do it with a familiar name to Gamecock fans. Former Clemson starter Kelly Bryant, who replaced another elite QB in Deshaun Watson, transferred to Mizzou after losing his job to Trevor Lawrence last season. He will take over an offense that features one of the SEC’s best running backs in Larry Roundtree III and the nation’s best tight end in Albert Okwuegbunam. Missouri, which won its final six games in 2017, won its final four last season to finish 8-5. It could have won 10 games if not for heartbreaking losses at South Carolina and at home to Kentucky. South Carolina has a history of close, dramatic games against Missouri, none more thrilling that last year’s 37-35 win in a driving rain with backup QB Michael Scarnecchia at the helm. The Gamecocks travel to the other Columbia in Week 4 for what figures to be another barnburner. — Jeff Owens

KEY PLAYERS

Missouri vs. South Carolina, 2018

Kelly Bryant, QB— Clemson transfer led the other Tigers to the College Football Playoff in 2018 and completed 66 percent passes at Clemson. Larry Roundtree, RB — Preseason All-SEC pick rushed for more than 1,200 yards last season. Albert Okwuegbunam, TE — The nation’s best tight end scored 17 touchdowns in the past two years, despite missing four games last season. Cale Garret, LB — Led the Mizzou with 112 tackles last season and has 264 in his career.

August 2019

Photo by Allen Sharpe

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING:

“When Kelly stepped on campus for his official visit, I saw an interaction between him and our team in the locker room. It was a natural fit. He’s a very selfless person, low, low ego. And one of the best competitors I have ever been around.” — Barry Odom on new QB Kelly Bryant

2019 SCHEDULE

2018 RESULTS

2018 STATS/RANK

at Wyoming West Virginia SE Missouri St. South Carolina at Vanderbilt at Kentucky at Georgia Florida Tennessee at Arkansas

W 40-13 DNP DNP L 35-37 W 33-28 L 14-15 L 29-43 W 38-17 W 50-17 W 38-0 Liberty Bowl Oklahoma St. L 33-38

OFFENSE Scoring Rushing Passing Total

PER GAME 36.6 ppg 202.4 ypg 279.4 ypg 481.8 ypg

SEC 3 5 3 3

NATL 18 33 22 13

DEFENSE Scoring Rushing Passing Total

PER GAME 25.5 ppg 126.5 ypg 262 ypg 388.5 ypg

SEC 9 4 14 10

NATL 50 22 112 62

MISSOURI TIGERS • OPPONENT PREVIEW 47


Kentucky WILDCATS 2018 record: 10-3 (5-3 in SEC) | Projection: 6th in SEC East | Returning Starters: 9 Record vs. SC: 11-17-1 | Head Coach: Mark Stoops | Overall record: 36-39 | At Kentucky: 36-39 Offensive Coordinators: Eddie Gran, Darin Hinshaw | Defensive Coordinator: Brad White

Kentucky vs. South Carolina, 2018 Photo by SC Athletics

K

entucky had an historic 10-win season in 2018, which included its first win in 31 years over Florida and a victory over Penn State in the Citrus Bowl. But Kentucky has lost 14 starters, including National Defensive Player of the Year Josh Allen and the school’s all-time leading rusher in Benny Snell. While the Wildcats had one of the best defenses in the SEC, it had one of the worst offenses (12th in total offense) and must replace its best offensive player in Snell. While the defensive line remains strong, Kentucky must replace key starters at linebacker and its entire starting secondary. Kentucky used to be a sure win for South Carolina, but the Gamecocks have lost five straight games to the Wildcats, including last year’s 24-10 loss in Lexington. They will look to snap that losing streak in a big game in Columbia in Week 5. — Jeff Owens 48 OPPONENT PREVIEW • KENTUCKY WILDCATS

KEY PLAYERS Terry Wilson, QB — Oregon transfer was 14th in the SEC in passing yards but can make game-changing plays as a runner. Beat Florida, South Carolina, Missouri and Penn State in his first year as a starter. Lynn Bowden Jr., WR —Ranked fifth in the SEC with 111.9 all-purpose yards and led Wildcats with 67 catches for 745 yards. Kash Daniel, LB — Emerged as team captain after making 84 tackles, third-most on the team. Quinton Bohanna, NG — Huge defensive lineman emerged as NFL prospect as a sophomore.

2019 SCHEDULE

2018 RESULTS

Eastern Michigan Florida at Miss State at South Carolina Arkansas at Georgia Missouri Tennessee at Vanderbilt UT Martin Louisville

DNP W 27-16 W 28-7 W 24-10 DNP L 17-34 W 15-14 L 7-24 W 14-7 DNP W 56-10 Citrus Bowl Penn State W 27-24

2018 STATS/RANK

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING:

“It’s been a long time since we’ve won [10 games], and we’re proud of that accomplishment, but we want more. It’s really important to have the detail and stay focused on the good things that we did to put us in a position to win, and then what areas can we improve on. The nice thing is our players saw what it takes.” — Mark Stoops

OFFENSE Scoring Rushing Passing Total

PER GAME 26.6 ppg 199.4 ypg 161.5 ypg 360.8 ypg

SEC 12 6 14 12

NATL 85 40 117 104

DEFENSE Scoring Rushing Passing Total

PER GAME 16.8 ppg 151.6 ypg 186.3 ypg 337.9 ypg

SEC 2 8 4 4

NATL 6 51 18 23

August 2019


Georgia BULLDOGS 2018 record: 11-3 (7-1 in SEC) | Projection: 1st in SEC East | Returning Starters: 13 Record vs. SC: 50-18-2 | Head Coach: Kirby Smart | Overall record: 32-10 | At Georgia: 32-10 Offensive Coordinator: James Coley | Defensive Coordinator: Dan Lanning

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eorgia won the SEC championship two years ago, but has lost its last two championships games, dropping the national title to Alabama in 2017 and the SEC title, also to Alabama, last year. To make matters worse, the Bulldogs were upset by Texas in last year’s Sugar Bowl, falling to 11-3 on the season and leaving Georgia fans disgruntled. Kirby Smart has the talent to get another title shot (or two) this season. The Dawgs are led by elite quarterback Jake Fromm, a strong running game and the best offensive line in the nation. The Bulldogs lack depth and experience at wide receiver. The defense, led by an experienced secondary, lost six starters but is once again loaded with talent. In Week 6, South Carolina travels to Athens, where it has lost three straight, including a 24-10 loss in 2017. The Gamecocks have lost four straight to Georgia. Their last win in Athens was a 45-42 thriller in 2011. — Jeff Owens 2019 SCHEDULE

2018 RESULTS

at Vanderbilt Murray State Arkansas State Notre Dame at Tennessee South Carolina Kentucky Florida (Jacksonville) Missouri at Auburn Texas A&M at Georgia Tech

W 41-13 DNP DNP DNP W 38-12 W 41-17 W 34-17 L 36-17 W 43-29 W 27-10 DNP W 45-21 SEC Championship Alabama L 28-35 Sugar Bowl Texas L 21-28

2018 STATS/RANK OFFENSE Scoring Rushing Passing Total

PER GAME 37.9 ppg 238.8 ypg 226.1 ypg 464.9 ypg

SEC 2 1 8 5

NATL 14 16 73 18

DEFENSE Scoring Rushing Passing Total

PER GAME 19.2 ppg 134 ypg 180.3 ypg 314.3 ypg

SEC 4 5 2 2

NATL 14 31 12 13

August 2019

Georgia vs. South Carolina, 2018 Photo by Allen Sharpe

KEY PLAYERS Jake Fromm, QB — One of the most efficient quarterbacks in Georgia history, he has 54 touchdown passes in two seasons. D’Andre Swift, RB — Rushed for 1,049 yards last season, the fourth most by a Georgia sophomore. Andrew Thomas, OT — A second-team All-American last year, Thomas is regarded as the best tackle in the country on the nation’s best offensive line. J.R. Reed, S — A second-team All-SEC player last year, Reed was second on the team with 66 tackles.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING:

“One of the themes our players have adopted this year has been to do more. We like it because we understand how close we’ve been to taking the next step. And although 24-5 the last two seasons is good, it’s not good enough. It’s not where we expect to be at the University of Georgia.” — Kirby Smart

GEORGIA BULLDOGS • OPPONENT PREVIEW 49


Florida GATORS 2018 record: 10-3 (5-3 in SEC) | Projection: 2nd in SEC East | Returning Starters: 15 Record vs. SC: 26-9-3 | Head Coach: Dan Mullen | Overall record: 79-49 | At Florida: 10-3 Offensive Coordinators: Billy Gonzales, John Hevesy | Defensive Coordinator: Todd Grantham

KEY PLAYERS CJ Henderson, CB — Part of the SEC’s best cornerback tandem, Henderson is projected to be a first-rounder. Lamical Perine, RB — Led the Gators with 826 yards rushing and has scored 17 TDs the past two seasons. Jabari Zuniga, DE — Had 6.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss as a junior. David Reese II, LB — A four-year starter and QB of the defense, Reese has 228 tackles in 33 games.

2019 SCHEDULE

2018 RESULTS

Miami (Orlando) UT Martin at Kentucky Tennessee Towson Auburn at LSU at South Carolina Georgia (Jacksonville) Vanderbilt at Missouri Florida State

DNP DNP L 16-27 W 47-21 DNP DNP W 27-19 W 35-31 L 17-36 W 37-27 L 17-38 W 41-14 Peach Bowl Michigan W 41-15

2018 STATS/RANK

Florida vs. South Carolina, 2018 Photo by Travis Bell

D

an Mullen proved to be the right choice for Florida. The former Florida offensive coordinator and Mississippi State head coach led the Gators to a six-win improvement in his first season and just their second top-10 ranking since Tim Tebow was under center. After back-to-back losses to Georgia and Missouri, the Gators rallied from a 31-14 third-quarter deficit to beat South Carolina 35-31 in Gainesville. That sparked 50 OPPONENT PREVIEW • FLORIDA GATORS

a four-game winning streak that culminated with a 41-15 beatdown of Michigan in the Peach Bowl. The Gators return 15 starters and should be strong on both sides of the ball. Junior quarterback Feleipe Franks showed vast improvement under Mullen and leads an offense stacked at the skill positions. The defense, led by a starstudded secondary, should also be strong again. Florida visits Williams-Brice Oct. 19 as part of a three-game

stretch that starts with games against Auburn and at LSU. — Jeff Owens

OFFENSE Scoring Rushing Passing Total

PER GAME 35 ppg 213.2 ypg 213.5 ypg 426.7 ypg

SEC 5 4 10 6

NATL 22 27 83 42

DEFENSE Scoring Rushing Passing Total

PER GAME 20 ppg 162.5 ypg 180.8 ypg 343.3 ypg

SEC 6 10 3 6

NATL 20 65 13 28

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING:

“I think we took great strides in our first year in the program. When you look at the year, you get a 10-win season, you finished ranked sixth in the country in the final polls … . It showed how fast our guys bought in to what we’re trying to do and what we’re trying to build.” — Dan Mullen

August 2019


Tennessee VOLUNTEERS 2018 record: 5-7 (2-6 in SEC) | Projection: 5th in SEC East | Returning Starters: 16 Record vs. SC: 25–9-2 | Head Coach: Jeremy Pruitt | Overall record: 5-7 | At Tennessee: 5-7 Offensive Coordinator: Jim Chaney | Defensive Coordinators: Derrick Ansley, Chris Rumph

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he rebuilding Volunteers had one of the worst offensive teams in the SEC last year, averaging just 23 points and 325 yards per game under new head coach Jeremy Pruitt. But big things are expected after the hiring of new offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, who had the secondbest offense in the conference last year at Georgia, and wide receivers coach Tee Martin, a former Tennessee quarterback. Their biggest challenge will be getting more out of quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, who led the Vols to wins over Kentucky and Auburn but was inconsistent. He will have plenty of weapons with running back Ty Chandler and a fleet of wide receivers. Tennessee must replace four starters on the defensive line but has one of the SEC’s best secondaries, led by senior Nigel Warrior. South Carolina has won its last three games against Tennessee, but the last six have all been decided by six points or less. Expect another close one on Oct. 26 in Knoxville. — Jeff Owens

2019 SCHEDULE

2018 RESULTS

Georgia State BYU Chattanooga at Florida Georgia Miss State at Alabama South Carolina UAB at Kentucky at Missouri Vanderbilt

DNP DNP DNP L 21-47 L 12-38 DNP L 21-58 L 24-27 DNP W 24-7 L 17-50 L 13-38

Tennessee vs. South Carolina, 2018 Photo by Allen Sharpe

KEY PLAYERS Jarrett Guarantano, QB — Threw for 1,907 yards and 12 touchdowns last year but much more is expected under new OC Jim Chaney.

2018 STATS/RANK OFFENSE Scoring Rushing Passing Total

PER GAME 22.8 ppg 129.1 ypg 196.4 ypg 325.5 ypg

SEC 13 14 11 14

NATL 108 114 97 122

DEFENSE Scoring Rushing Passing Total

PER GAME 27.9 ppg 154.5 ypg 222.9 ypg 377.4 ypg

SEC 12 9 8 9

NATL 77 52 60 49

August 2019

Marquez Callaway, WR — Led the Vols in receptions last year, including a season-high nine against South Carolina. Nigel Warrior, S — Senior safety, who had 83 tackles and three forced fumbles in 2017, leads an experienced secondary. Ty Chandler, RB — Led Vols with 630 yards rushing and finished the season with three straight 80-yard performances.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING:

“When I was growing up, Tennessee was one of the premier programs in the country, and that’s still the expectations of the fans, everybody associated with the athletic department, our coaching staff and our players. … So we got to do our part, and we have a plan as a staff. Our players, they believe in our vision and the kids that we’re recruiting.” — Jeremy Pruitt

TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS • OPPONENT PREVIEW 51


Vanderbilt COMMODORES 2018 record: 6-7 (3-5 in SEC) | Projection: 7th in SEC East | Returning Starters: 16 Record vs. SC: 4-24 | Head Coach: Derek Mason | Overall record: 24-38 | At Vanderbilt: 24-38 Offensive Coordinator: Gerry Gdowski | Defensive Coordinator: Jason Tarver

Vanderbilt vs. South Carolina, 2018 Photo by SC Athletics

V

anderbilt head coach Derek Mason vowed that last year’s game against South Carolina would be a “street fight.” He got his wish as the Gamecocks whipped the Commodores 37-14 in Nashville. Mason might be a bit more cautious this season when Vanderbilt faces South Carolina, which has won 10 straight against the Commodores. The Commodores struggled on defense last year (Carolina rolled up 534 yards) but had a respectable offense, averaging 28.5 points and 411 yards per game. They should be strong again with three of the best offensive players in the league in running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn, wide receiver Kalija Lipscomb and tight end Jared Pinkney. The key for Vanderbilt will be replacing quarterback Kyle Shurmur, the school’s career passing leader. The competition will come down to fourth-year junior Deuce Wallace and Ball State transfer Riley Neal. 52 OPPONENT PREVIEW • VANDERBILT COMMODORES

The Commodores have a tough schedule, opening with Georgia, Purdue and LSU. They likely will be looking to turn

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING:

“For us, it’s been about trying to make sure that we keep up with that program, you know, up the road, but there’s a big combat zone going on in the SEC East side of the conference and … we’ve got to continue to make sure that we just don’t focus on Tennessee, we focus on winning games in our conference. I believe right now this is the best football team that I’ve had.” — Derek Mason on beating Tennessee three straight years

things around when they travel to Columbia Nov. 2. — Jeff Owens

KEY PLAYERS Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB — Rushed for 1,244 yards and 12 TDs and led the SEC with 7.9 yards per carry. Led the nation with six carries for 60-plus yards. Kalija Lipscomb, WR — Led the SEC with 87 receptions for 916 yards. His nine TDs were the most by a Vanderbilt player since 2005. Jared Pinkney, TE — One of the nation’s best tight ends, Pinkney led the SEC with 50 catches for a 15.5-yard average. Riley Neal, QB — Ball State transfer replaces four-year starter Kyle Shurmur. Has started 32 games, throwing for 7,393 yards and rushing for 1,363.

2019 SCHEDULE

2018 RESULTS

Georgia at Purdue LSU Northern Illinois at Ole Miss UNLV Missouri at South Carolina at Florida Kentucky E. Tenn State at Tennessee

L 13-41 DNP DNP DNP W 36-29 (OT) DNP L 28-33 L 14-37 L 27-37 L 7-14 DNP W 38-13 Texas Bowl Baylor L 38-45

2018 STATS/RANK OFFENSE Scoring Rushing Passing Total

PER GAME 28.5 ppg 167.5 ypg 243.7 ypg 411.2 ypg

SEC 10 9 6 8

NATL 68 66 56 59

DEFENSE Scoring Rushing Passing Total

PER GAME 26.6 ppg 194.7 ypg 244.2 ypg 438.9 ypg

SEC 10 12 10 13

NATL 60 94 85 99

August 2019


Appalachian State MOUNTAINEERS 2018 record: 11-2 (7-1 in Sun Belt) | Projection: 1st Sun Belt East | Returning Starters: 17 Record vs. SC: 1-8 | Head Coach: Eli Drinkwitz | Overall record: First season | At App State: First season Offensive Coordinator: Eli Drinkwitz | Defensive Coordinator: Ted Roof

A

pp State has emerged as one of the top Group of 5 programs in the country and is favored to win a fourth straight Sun Belt Conference championship. New head coach Eli Drinkwitz inherits an experienced team that returns 17 starters, including several all-conference peformers. The Mountaineers had the league’s best offense last year and was 16th in the nation in scoring at 37.3 points per game behind Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year Zac Thomas. The unit could be even better under Drinkwitz, who had one of the nation’s top passing attacks at NC State. The Mountaineers also have a strong defense, finishing fourth nationally in scoring defense (15.5 ppg) and sixth in yards per game (288 mpg). It returns six

2019 SCHEDULE

2018 RESULTS

East Tenn State Charlotte at North Carolina Coastal Carolina at Louisiana UL Monroe at South Alabama Georgia Southern at South Carolina at Georgia State Texas State at Troy

DNP W 45-9 DNP W 23-7 W 27-17 DNP W 52-7 L 14-34 DNP W 45-17 W 38-7 W 21-10 SBC Championship Louisiana W 30-19 New Orleans Bowl Middle Tenn. W 45-13

starters, including a couple of all-league linebackers. App State is best known nationally for upsetting Michigan in 2007 and always plays top competition tough. It lost to Penn

State in overtime last season. The Gamecocks must make sure they don’t take this late-season, nonconference game lightly. — Jeff Owens

KEY PLAYERS

2018 STATS/RANK OFFENSE Scoring Rushing Passing Total

PER GAME 37.3 ppg 240.4 ypg 190.6 ypg 431 ypg

SB 1 2 7 2

NATL 16 14 100 37

DEFENSE Scoring Rushing Passing Total

PER GAME 15.5 ppg 125.9 ypg 162.1 ypg 288 ypg

SB 1 1 1 1

NATL 4 21 5 6

August 2019

Zac Thomas Photo by App State Athletics

Zac Thomas, QB — The Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year completed 62 percent of his passes and threw for 2,039 yards and 21 touchdowns. Also rushed for 504 yards and 10 touchdowns. Darrynton Evans, RB — Rushed for 1,187 yards and seven touchdowns. Corey Sutton, WR — A deep threat who had 44 receptions for 773 yards and 10 touchdowns last year. Akeem Davis-Gaither, LB — Led a strong linebacking crew with 105 tackles, 10 for loss, as a junior.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING:

“We have a strong football team, we have a great staff. The biggest challenge for us is to put it all together and become an ‘us’ unit and become the 2019 Mountaineers.” — Eli Drinkwitz

APPALACHIAN STATE MOUNTAINEERS • OPPONENT PREVIEW 53


Texas A&M AGGIES 2018 record: 9-4 (5-3 in SEC) | Projection: 3rd in SEC West | Returning Starters: 13 Record vs. SC: 4-0 | Head Coach: Jimbo Fisher | Overall record: 92-27 | At Texas A&M: 9-4 Offensive Coordinator: Darrell Dickey | Defensive Coordinator: Mike Elko

Texas A&M vs South Carolina, 2018 Photo by Jenny Dilworth

J

imbo Fisher made an impact in his first year at Texas A&M, nearly upsetting Clemson and finishing second in the mighty SEC West after a memorable sevenovertime win over LSU. But taking the next step might be a huge challenge. The offense, led by versatile quarterback Kellen Mood, should be strong again and the defense, third nationally against the run, returns seven starters. But like South Carolina, Texas A&M has a brutal schedule. The Aggies travel to Clemson in Week 2 and open SEC play against Auburn, Arkansas and Alabama. The Gamecocks, who are looking for their first win over A&M, travel to College Station Nov. 16 before the Aggies finish the regular season at Georgia and at LSU. — Jeff Owens

2019 SCHEDULE

KEY PLAYERS Kellen Mond, QB — Fourth in the SEC in total offense with 3,581 yards. Quartney Davis, WR — Aggies’ top receiver last year with 45 catches and seven touchdowns. Justin Madubuike, DT — Had 40 tackles and 5.5 sacks as a sophomore. Braden Mann, P — An AllAmerican and the Ray Guy Award winner returns for his senior season.

2018 RESULTS

Texas State DNP at Clemson L 26-28 Lamar DNP Auburn L 24-28 Arkansas (Arlington, Texas) W 24-17 Alabama L 23-45 at Ole Miss W 38-24 Miss State L 13-28 UTSA DNP South Carolina W 26-23 at Georgia DNP at LSU W 74-72 (7 OT) Gator Bowl: NC State W 52-13

2018 STATS/RANK OFFENSE Scoring Rushing Passing Total

PER GAME 36 ppg 219 ypg 252.6 ypg 471.6 ypg

SEC 4 3 5 4

NATL 19 21 44 15

DEFENSE Scoring Rushing Passing Total

PER GAME 25.3 ppg 95.2 ypg 253.2 ypg 348.4 ypg

SEC 8 2 12 7

NATL 47 3 98 32

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING:

“They are great teams, but we expect to play with them and compete with them and win those games. That’s why we’re here. We are not looking to spoil anything. We’re looking to win something.” — Jimbo Fisher on playing Alabama, Clemson and Georgia this season.

54 OPPONENT PREVIEW • TEXAS A&M AGGIES

August 2019


Clemson TIGERS 2018 record: 15-0 (8-0 in ACC, National Champion) | Projection: 1st in ACC Atlantic | Returning Starters: 12 Record vs. SC: 70-42-4 | Head Coach: Dabo Swinney | Overall record: 116-30 | At Clemson: 116-30 Offensive Coordinators: Tony Elliott, Jeff Scott | Defensive Coordinator: Brent Venables

T

hough South Carolina lost to rival Clemson for the fifth straight year last season, the Gamecocks gave the defending national champions one of their biggest challenges. Clemson won 56-35, but the Gamecocks rolled up 600 yards and 35 points on one of the nation’s best defenses. Clemson allowed just 13 points per game and held eight teams to 16 points or less, including Alabama. The Tigers had the No. 1 scoring defense in the country and were No. 5 in yards allowed (285.9), so South Carolina’s offensive performance was impressive. The Gamecocks will need to be just as productive when the two rivals meet in Columbia this year. Though Clemson lost seven starters on defense, the Tigers will have one of the most talented offenses in the nation, led by two Heisman hopefuls in quarterback Trevor 2019 SCHEDULE

2018 RESULTS

Georgia Tech Texas A&M at Syracuse Charlotte at North Carolina Florida State at Louisville Boston College Wofford at NC State Wake Forest at South Carolina

W 49-21 W 28-26 W 27-23 DNP DNP W 59-10 W 77-16 W 27-7 DNP W 41-7 W 63-3 W 56-35 ACC Championship: Pitt W 42-10 CFP: Notre Dame W 30-3 National Championship: Alabama W 44-16

PER GAME 44.3 ppg 248.2 ypg 279 ypg 527.2 ypg

DEFENSE PER GAME Scoring 13.1 ppg Rushing 96.3 ypg Passing 189.6 Total 285.9 ypg

August 2019

Photo by Jenny Dilworth

Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne. But Will Muschamp, who will have his best team at South Carolina, remains committed to beating the Gamecocks’ biggest rival. “Our goal every year is win the [SEC] East … and to win our state, and we haven’t done either

one in three years,” he said. “That’s something we’ve got to be able to accomplish, and that goal is not going to change, regardless of the situation or the circumstances.” — Jeff Owens

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING:

2018 STATS/RANK OFFENSE Scoring Rushing Passing Total

Clemson vs. South Carolina, 2018

ACC 1 2 2 1

NATL 4 10 23 3

ACC 1 1 3 2

NATL 1 4 24 5

“It’s kind of business as usual for us. It’s just what we do every year. We’ve had eight 10-plus winning seasons in a row, been very consistent. The reason for that is we start over. Truly, we don’t carry everything over. It’s a new team, there’s new challenges. You’ve got to redevelop the leadership, reinstall the core values.” — Dabo Swinney

KEY PLAYERS Trevor Lawrence, QB — Threw for 3,290 yards and 30 touchdowns with just four interceptions as a true freshman to lead Clemson to the national championship. Travis Etienne, RB — Rushed for 1,658 yards and led the nation with 24 touchdowns. The junior back gives Clemson two Heisman candidates. Justyn Ross, WR — Caught 46 passes for 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns as a freshman. Xavier Thomas, DE — Expected to be Clemson’s next great defensive lineman; had 10.5 tackles for loss as a backup last year.

CLEMSON TIGERS • OPPONENT PREVIEW 55


Making Dreams Come True Calhoun Wrenn Foundation giving Columbia kids hope, inspiration By Jeff Owens | Executive Editor • Photos by Allen Sharpe

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ake Bentley ran toward the end zone, whooping and hollering like he had just thrown another touchdown pass to Bryan Edwards. Instead, Bentley was jumping up and down, pumping his fist and high-fiving a team of kids who had just scored a touchdown in a game of flag football at the Jerri and Steve Spurrier Indoor Practice Facility. Bentley and some of his Gamecock teammates had just helped make some dreams come true, which was the point of this special event hosted by the Calhoun Traumatic Brain Injury Foundation. “The main thing we want to do is give hope, to give inspiration, because I’m willing to bet one of those little kids in that crowd will 56 FEATURE • CALHOUN WRENN FOUNDATION

probably end up playing here at South Carolina,” said former Gamecock basketball star Carey Rich, who works with under-serviced kids throughout Columbia. “Even if that is not the case, just being able to experience this, it gives them a reason to dream and a reason to hope. It gives them a reason to be inspired.” The foundation, named after Cal Wrenn, the son of long-time South Carolina coach and recruiting coordinator Clyde Wrenn, hosted about 40 kids from the inner-city of Columbia in July. Cal suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2008 and spent weeks in the hospital before eventually recovering. He and his father started the foundation in 2014 to raise money for the trauma

center at Prisma Health (formerly Palmetto Health) Richland. With an assist from NFL legend Brett Favre, the Wrenns have raised more than $200,000 for the trauma center and more than $80,000 for other local charities. With the help of Rich, the Recreation Superintendent for the City of Columbia and part of Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin’s youth initiative, the foundation has been holding such events to help innercity youth. “We just thought this was a good way to give back to kids, to give them something they weren’t used to,” said Clyde Wrenn, who has spent more than 18 years with

South Carolina Athletics and the university’s football program. “I’m lucky enough to have a good family and we enjoy helping people even if we didn’t have a foundation,” Cal said. “Dad’s a guy who stops on the side of the road when somebody needs help. We just enjoy helping and this gives us a better way to do this.” The foundation took a group of kids to meet with Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, who showed them his department’s K9 team, and then to Riverbanks Zoo. Afterward, they visited the new Long Family Football Operations Center, where they met South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp and several of his players. Muschamp spoke to the group and delivered the same message he has for his players. “You show me your friends, I’ll show you your future,” he said. “The people you hang around and the choices you make with those people, that’s going to determine your future. Don’t let your circumstances define your life.” Muschamp and his players also stressed the importance of doing well in school and getting a good education. “School is really, really important,” Muschamp said. “If you want to continue on to play football in college or basketball or baseball, you have to do a great job academically. Hang around the right people, make good choices and understand how important education is to your future and the rest of your life.” “You have to be a good student in the classroom and you have to show as much respect to your teacher as you do your coach,” senior offensive lineman Donell Stanley said. “That’s what Coach Muschamp preaches to us all the time. “Always encourage each other. Encourage your teammates. Always be a good team player, always keep your head up and always do the right thing.” After touring the new $50 million football ops center — including playing games in the player’s lounge — the kids played flag football with Bentley, Stanley and fellow Gamecock stars Bryan Edwards, Javon Kinlaw, D.J. Wonnum, Hank Manos and Zacch Pickens. “It’s special to give back to them, knowing I was that kid at one point who wanted to be out here playing with the college guys and just having fun,” Bentley said. “It’s really a cool experience to be out there with them.”

August 2019


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August 2019

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“These guys are just like you. They allowed basketball to give them an opportunity to step foot on a college campus and now they are having the time of their lives and they are understanding how many opportunities are out there to find success.” Providing those kinds of opportunities are what the foundation and the programs run by Rich and Martin are all about. “I’m a product of inner-city Columbia,” said Rich, a two-time captain on Eddie Folgler’s 1994-96 teams. “I grew up in the same situation as many of these kids grew up in, so it’s a little bit more special for me. There is a passion I share with them. “Basketball created a new path for me that otherwise had not been created in my neighborhood. Realizing where it has taken me, it’s really important to help create different pathways — and it doesn’t always have to be basketball or football — for kids that would otherwise not be able to enjoy this.” Most of the kids who participated in the foundation event had never been to Riverbanks Zoo. Getting to visit the zoo, tour South Carolina’s football and basketball facilities and meet the Gamecock stars was an experience most of them might not have gotten if not for organization’s like the Wrenn foundation. Seeing the smile on their faces was worth the effort. “It’s a joy to see these kids smile,” Rich said. “Ninety-eight percent of them had never been to the zoo before and to see that smile and that amazement and that disbelief, that’s all gold. How do we create that wow moment? How do we create that lifelong moment, that everlasting memory? And we’re doing that today.”

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The group then moved to the South Carolina basketball facility at the Carolina Coliseum, where they participated in Frank Martin’s 8K in 8 Days community outreach program. “It’s great to be able to talk with the little kids and talk about education,” sophomore forward Alanzo Frink said. “I came from the city too, so it’s [neat] connecting with them and showing them how it is over here.” After doing drills with several Gamecock players, the group heard another valuable lesson from Martin. “I was just like you guys. I had never been on a college campus until I was 19 years old, not because I wasn’t smart enough, not because I wasn’t good enough, I just never had anybody ever tell me,” Martin said. “No one in my family ever went to college. I never had anyone tell me, ‘Frank, go to that college campus and see what life is like.’ You guys have an opportunity right now because of a lot of folks who are giving of themselves to give you an idea and a dream to one day be on a college campus.” Martin also emphasized the importance of education and the opportunities it can provide. “If it wasn’t for my high school coach taking me to go see one of my high school teammates play at a university, I probably never would have started coaching and never gone to college,” he said. “Because of that, I dreamt, ‘you know what, I kinda want to be a part of that, too.’ Be thankful that you’ve got people who are willing to give you the opportunity to go walk around a college campus and get around college athletes.

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Four intriguing players to watch in 2019

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very preseason there are several players who attract the main headlines but others I become intrigued with entering the season. Here’s a look at four who have my attention entering 2019.

dled, reached up and swatted the ball away, making a play that few defensive backs in the country can make. It is that type of skill that has me intrigued.

2017, don’t be surprised to see the defense finish among the best in the SEC and Wonnum in the conversation for several national honors.

DE/BUCK D.J. Wonnum

Last year I had Smith as one of the breakout players, but a serious injury to his kneecap required surgery and caused him to miss the season. Now fully healthy, there were positive reviews regarding Smith’s work over the summer and in training camp. Smith has never been completely healthy during his time in Columbia. When he arrived, he was still dealing with an ankle injury suffered in high school. Despite that, the 6-4, 220-pound receiver had 30 catches and three touchdowns as a freshman. Now fully healthy and with two years learning the system, Smith should be primed for a big season.

There have been times when DB Israel Mukuamu doing the radio show each mornHaving a defensive back that is ing that we start discussing the 6-4 is a bit of an anomaly, but the defensive line and the first names rising sophomore gives the Gamementioned are Javon Kinlaw, Rick cocks maybe the tallest secondary Sandidge, J.J. Enagbare and Zacch in the country when paired with 6-1 Pickens. After playing in just five Jaycee Horn. However, it is the skill games in 2018 due to injury, it is like set that Mukuamu possesses that we have forgotten Wonnum and the makes him a player I cannot wait to impact he can have on the defense. see perform this season. His sack and strip of the football The coaching staff has raved late in the game helped preserve about his football I.Q. and work the victory over Tennessee last year. ethic, but Mukuamu brings length Now back for his senior year, how and athletic ability to the secondary much of an impact can he have with that the Gamecocks have lacked in a few more talented players around Will Muschamp’s first three years. him? One play from the spring game The 6-5, 260-pound Georgia stood out. As Jake Bentley rolled native was one of, if not the best, right and had a running back open Gamecock defender during his in the flat, he attempted to lob the first two years and should return to ball over Mukuamu for an easy form, which should help the defense completion and possibly a nice gain, take a big step forward. If Wonnum but Mukuamu simply back-pedis the1player we all 1:05 remember from Spurs & Feathers- Fall '19.pdf 8/16/19 PM

WR OrTre Smith

eight months, you are well aware of the former Clemson running back transferring to South Carolina to play his final season. The question is what type of impact can the 6-0, 220-pound Feaster have in his one season in Columbia? Rico Dowdle has been inconsistent due to injuries but has shown flashes of a solid player. Now with Feaster entering the equation, he should be pushed more during practice and on game days to fight for his starting spot. Feaster has the type of game-breaking speed that can change a game in a heartbeat and add a new element to the offense.

RB Tavien Feaster

Let’s be honest, if you are going to list the most intriguing Gamecocks heading into 2019, Feaster has to be on the list. Unless you have been in outer space for the past

Bill Gunter is the co-host of the Early Game on 107.5 The Game in Columbia. Follow him on Twitter @WillGunter.

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Here’s how the Gamecocks can go undefeated

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t’s time! The waiting is over. Football season is upon us. The constant remembering of the top teams of 2018 (which is enough to make you throw up; and which all seem to be on our schedule) is over. Questions abound. Will the offense be the one that scored 35 points and could have scored 49 or 56 on the eventual national champion on their home field? Or the one that put up a goose egg in the bowl game? Will the defense, which was so hurt and porous at the end of last year, be healed up and a whole lot better? (It can’t help but be better.) Will award-winning throwing of footballs to golf carts translate into connecting with live receivers? (Let’s hope so.) The schedule is tough, but sometimes, if you look real, REAL deep, maybe it’s not.

Charleston Southern: First time playing. First-time win for the Gamecocks. Can’t lose this one.

North Carolina: The last three times we’ve opened with them have been wins. The last time, in Charlotte in 2015, we won 17-13. There’s a new, old coach and a new era for the Tar Heels. Gotta get it started with a win here.

Georgia: On the road. Histori-

Alabama: Who can forget the last time we played the Tide? Ten years ago, in Willy B, No. 1 in the land, and arguably the biggest win in South Carolina history. We’ve won three of the last five against them. Why not again? Missouri: SC has won the last three in a row and is 5-2 since the Tigers joined the SEC, including two wins in Columbia, Mo. It is high time to show their new QB the door, and the Gamecocks are always good for a win on the road (see Ole Miss from last year). Run the streak to four.

Florida: Raise your hand if you think we should have beat Florida last year? That is one that got away. The differences from this year to last are not much between the two. This is a winnable game and the home field will help take it.

So we’re 7-0 going into … Tennessee: The Gamecocks have won the last three in a row, two of the last four at Rocky Top. We’re on a roll now and can’t be stopped. Vanderbilt: At home? Have to be careful, but see above.

Kentucky: If there’s anyone Carolina needs to beat, it’s Kentucky. At home. Time to turn their streak around.

cally, a very tough place for Carolina to play. Since the Gamecocks won in Athens in 1979, SC has won at Georgia once about every eight years. It’s year eight. Time to win.

Appalachian State: We are 8-1 all time against the Mountaineers, but this one scares me. I remember 1975 and a loss in Columbia. Got a speeding ticket (the first of a few to come) on the way to the game. Better be ready. I think we will. Texas A&M: Hard to believe we have never beaten the Aggies. It’s in College Station. It’s about time to win. And home against the team that must not be named: I hope

they come in unbeaten. Then again, I hope they lose every game. That’s quite a dichotomy. Their roll has to come to an end. There. Easy peasy. Undefeated. Playoffs, here we come. I won’t even begin to predict that, but stranger things have happened. Honestly, I think we can win every week, no matter what happens the week before. Here’s hoping we stay healthy and this is our year to bust out. Right now, just beat North Carolina! With loyal devotion, remembering the days …

Ed Girardeau is a 1982 South Carolina graduate and has been a columnist for Spurs & Feathers since 2012. You can reach him at edgirardeau@spursandfeathers.com.

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