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  1. Will Muschamp’s message to his seniors entering their final game December 14, 2018 Will Muschamp’s final game as a player wasn’t in a bowl. No, his 1994 Georgia Bulldogs didn’t make the postseason. They did, however, close with a 48-10 win against Georgia Tech in the Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate rivalry game, one week after tying No. 3 Auburn. So Muschamp closed his college career with a couple pretty good memories, and that theme flows into the message he’s giving his seniors as they head into the Belk Bowl matchup against Virginia on Dec. 29. “As much as anything, you’d like to go out with a win,” Muschamp said. “Your lasting memory of your last football game, you want to be in a situation where, a victorious locker room is a lot better than the other.” His two seasons have seen both sides of it. His first team sent the seniors out with an overtime loss against South Florida. The Gamecocks rallied after falling behind by double digits, but couldn’t out-duel an explosive Bulls attack and Quinton Flowers. That somber Birmingham Bowl was a stark contrast to the delirious, joyful players marching around the field after rallying from 16 points down and stunning favored Michigan in the Outback Bowl last season. The Gamecocks are four-point favorites against the Cavaliers. Virginia isn’t close to as strong a team as Michigan was, nor does the program have that helmet cache. But it’s one more game, one more shot for a small group of seniors that includes Bryson Allen-Williams, Jacob August, Steven Montac, K.C. Crosby and Rashad Fenton, to play. Allen-Williams is working back from ankle surgery to play. So there’s a message to them to cherish it, and a message to everyone else to support that group. “That, as much as anything, for the young player to understand, this is the last time that these young men will have the opportunity to wear a Gamecock uniform,” Muschamp said. “It’s important to send them out the right way.”
  2. One Gamecock shifting to over a spot with Deebo sitting out bowl December 13, 2018 Deebo Samuel wasn’t the tallest outside receiver for South Carolina, but he did his damage despite that. As he sits out the Belk Bowl, a teammate will try to do the same while moving to a slightly different spot. USC coach Will Muschamp said Shi Smith will move from the slot to take Samuels’ spot on the outside. Smith spent time there in the spring and in practice, but has played there sparingly through the season. “Shi is going to play outside,” Muschamp said at a Belk Bowl press conference on Thursday. “I think Josh (Vann) can play inside and still play outside, but we’re going to move those guys around to get the best combination of what we can get on the field.” Muschamp reiterated he expects everyone else to play, meaning Bryan Edwards should give USC a mostly-full receiving group. Smith has been USC’s No. 3 pass-catcher this season, with 39 catches, 597 yards and four touchdowns. USC could go with more two-tight end looks, as it often has through the season, or it could mean much more work for Vann. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound former four-star recruit has caught 18 passes for 118 yards and one touchdown. Vann made one start this season and played a lot against Akron when Smith was out, and Muschamp is confident in him. “He’s played really well,” Muschamp said. “He’s a guy that had to step up for us in the last ballgame, and will be a guy that, his role will obviously advance for the Belk Bowl.”
  3. What Dan Werner has meant to South Carolina QBs, offense this season December 13, 2018 When Ole Miss offensive coordinator Phil Longo took the same position at North Carolina with Mack Brown, it left a spot for Rebels coach Matt Luke to fill. And one name that hit the speculation world quickly: South Carolina quarterbacks coach Dan Werner. The veteran coach spent five seasons in Oxford, building high-tempo, throw-it-around offenses until Hugh Freeze let him go for Longo. After one year as an analyst for Nick Saban, Werner found his way to Columbia to work with the Gamecocks’ passers. And in one season, he left a mark on South Carolina’s quarterback room. “Coach Werner is probably one of the biggest blessings, biggest helps that I’ve had since I’ve been in college,” Gamecocks quarterback Jake Bentley said. “Just his overall knowledge of the game and how he approaches it, what he’s brought to our offense has just been great for us.” Bentley has thrown for 2,953 yards, 27 scores and 12 interceptions, posting a career-best 153.6 rating in 11 games. If he could maintain that rating through the bowl game, he’d likely have the third-best mark for a Gamecocks starter, behind only Connor Shaw’s final two seasons. Werner also had an important role in being a veteran presence alongside first-time offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon. Werner brought an array of RPO plays the program wanted to work in. When McClendon started calling plays from the sideline halfway through the year, Werner brought plenty of experience as an eye from the box. Another small factor worth noting was how South Carolina had to start backup Michael Scarnecchia against Missouri, and the team didn’t suffer much at all. He connected on 57.1 percent of his passes for 249 yards and three scores, and led the Gamecocks 53 yards in the final minute to set up a game-winning field goal. Scarnecchia credited Werner with helping in one big area. “Confidence is a big thing,” Scarnecchia said. “You can see it throughout the whole QB room. Everyone is confident in their reads and having discernment when they’re making a certain read and throwing the ball. Just trusting yourself and trusting yourself when you’re taking shots. He’s been big on, ‘When you have a shot, take it, but don’t force anything.’ He’s helping us be smart with the ball.” USC is 332 yards away from the most passing yards in program history and has set the school record for yards in a game. It remains to be seen if Werner will return to a place he spent five years, to running an offense, or if he’ll even be given the chance. But if he is, he’ll leave having guided Bentley through some things. South Carolina was often out of sorts on offense early in the season, especially Bentley. Some big plays were missed when he couldn’t connect with open receivers, and a mess of drops didn’t help in some big losses. But after that start, Bentley locked in and performed as many projected before this and last season, and Werner had a hand there. “Through the ups and downs of this year, he’s stayed consistent,” Bentley said. “Never wavered in how he coaches or approaches each game. Just been great for me and taught me a lot this year.”
  4. How McIlwain, Nunez and other Gamecocks transfers did in 2018 December 09, 2018 Transfers are a fact of life in college football. Players want more opportunities, have grade issues or something goes wrong. In Will Muschamp’s first three seasons at South Carolina, transfers have happened often. Looking back at some of the players who left, stayed in college football, and what they did in the 2018 season. ▪ QB Brandon McIlwain, Cal – For a moment in the middle of the year, he’d worked his way into starting, then had his role reduced to running QB and hardly played down the stretch. In some ways that mirrors his lone Gamecocks season. He finished 80 for 129 for 763 yards with two touchdowns, eight interceptions and a 104.4 rating. He ran for 402 yards and four touchdowns. He had one 300-yard passing game and two 100-yard rushing games. ▪ QB Lorenzo Nunez, Southeastern Louisiana – The former passer did a little of everything in nine games for the Lions. He ran for 147 yards and a touchdown, threw for 58 on seven passes and caught 15 yards for 120 yards and a pair of scores. ▪ LB Jalen Dread, North Alabama – Made 28 tackles with a fumble recovery for a 7-3 FCS independent team. ▪ LB Sherrod Pittman, Tennessee Martin – Made 21 tackles, one for loss, with an interception in 11 games with two starts ▪ DE/LB Boosie Whitlow, Louisville – Made four tackles in six games ▪ DB Antoine Wilder, North Carolina A&T – The graduate transfer ended up leading the Aggies with 58 tackles. He had five tackles for loss, two interceptions, four pass breakup-ups and led the No. 5 scoring defense in FCS. ▪ WR Jerad Washington, Jacksonville State – Caught 10 passes for 97 yards. ▪ WR Shaq Davidson, Jacksonville State – caught 21 passes for 243 yards on four touchdowns in nine games. ▪ OL Pika Leota, Benadictine College – Named second-team all-conference for a 13-1 NAIA program which will play for an FCS title on Dec. 15. ▪ WR Jalen Christian, William & Mary – Caught 14 passes for 108 yards and a touchdown for a 4-6 team. ▪ WR Christian Owens, Georgia State – Caught 12 passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns. ▪ OL Trey Derouen, Buffalo – Started one game and played six for a 10-3 team.
  5. South Carolina football names permanent team captains for 2018 season & other awards December 08, 2018 A new set of players will have their picture up in the South Carolina football hall of captains. The Gamecocks held their team banquet on Saturday night and handed out end-of-season awards. That included permanent team captains, which went to Bryson Allen-Williams, Zack Bailey, Jake Bentley and T.J. Brunson. The team rotates who is captain on a game-by-game basis, and elects the permanent ones at year’s end. The rest of USC’s awards: Coaches’ Awards Dr. Harris Pastides Outstanding Student-Athlete Award: Donell Stanley, Jay Urich, Malik Young, Danny Gordon Community Service Award Spencer Eason-Riddle Strength & Conditioning Award: Sadarius Hutcherson, Kyle Markway, Bryan Edwards Comeback Player of the Year Award” Deebo Samuel, Bryson Allen-Williams, K.C. Crosby Offensive Scout Team Award: Hank Manos Defensive Scout Team Award: Jason Senn, Javion Duncan Special Teams Scout Team Award: Jaylan Foster Nutrition Award: T.J. Brunson Players’ Choice Awards Unselfish Teammate - Offense Michael Scarnecchia, Jacob August Blake Camper, Dennis Daley Unselfish Teammate - Defense T.J. Brunson, Rashad Fenton, Steven Montac Unselfish Teammate - Special Teams Kiel Pollard, Keisean Nixon, Ben Asbury Tenacity Award - Offense Zack Bailey Tenacity Award - Defense Bryson Allen-Williams Tenacity Award - Special Teams Kiel Pollard Most Valuable Player - Offense (Steve Spurier Award) Deebo Samuel Most Valuable Player - Defense (Joe Morrison Award) T.J. Brunson, Javon Kinlaw Most Valuable Player - Special Teams (Jim Carlen Award) Joseph Charlton, Parker White Leadership Award - Offense Jake Bentley Leadership Award - Defense T.J. Brunson Leadership Award - Special Teams Kiel Pollard Most Explosive Player - Offense Deebo Samuel Most Productive Player - Defense T.J. Brunson, Jaycee Horn Most Productive Player - Special Teams Deebo Samuel Steve Wadiak MVP Award - Deebo Samuel
  6. What Stephen Garcia told Ryan Hilinski about Gamecocks... and Five Points December 06, 2018 THE STATE While former South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia is waiting to see how his Alliance of American football career is going to play out, he has taken some time pass along advice to future South Carolina quarterback Ryan Hilinski. Garcia, the third-leading passer in Gamecocks history, and Hilinski, the four-star prospect who plans to join the team in January, started a relationship when Garcia reached out to Hilinski via Twitter. The young quarterback was eager to chat, Garcia said. “I just tweeted at him and said, ‘I’m excited for you to join the fraternity,’” Garcia said. “I think your character and your off-the-field stuff is awesome, and I’m pulling for you.” Hilinski immediately responded and the two have traded phone numbers and text messages since. On Tuesday, Hilinski tweeted, “Nothing hypes me up more than conversations with @StephenGarcia! Time to repeat history.” Like Hilinski, Garcia was a high-profile recruit who fans expected to sweep into town and be a star right away. Garcia is hopeful Hilinski is better prepared for that pressure than he was, which is one of the reasons he reached out, he said. “I can’t tell you exactly what I said because there were a few cuss words involved, but basically it was, ‘Go in there with the utmost confidence and like you own the building and be ready to rock and roll,’” Garcia said. “With a few more cuss words I said, ‘Stay the hell of Five Points.’” Garcia won 20 games at South Carolina and threw for 7,597 yards and led the Gamecocks to their only SEC East title but was dismissed from the team in 2011. “I told (Hilinski), ‘You’re a big fish in a small pond right now, and when you get to town it’s even a smaller fish bowl,’” Garcia said. “You have to be aware that everybody is watching you. That’s one thing I wish I had understood when I first got there. You can’t get away with the stuff regular college guys do. You have all eyes on you.” Hilinski, 6-4, 237 pounds, threw for more than 8,000 yards as a three-year high school starter at Orange Lutheran High School in Orange, Calif. “I think the star ratings are full of it to be quite frank with you but watching him play I think he’s definitely a guy who is legit worthy of being a five-star,” Garcia said. “Obviously he’s a big-name guy. That’s huge for South Carolina and Coach (Will) Muschamp.” Garcia believes Gamecocks quarterbacks coach Dan Werner will be good for Hilinski’s development. Werner was the first collegiate coach to offer Garcia a scholarship, Garcia said. “He was the quarterbacks coach at Miami and he came up to Tampa when I was a freshman, and he said, ‘You have a place at Miami if you want it,’” Garcia said. “That was pretty cool. I’ve tried to stay in touch with him since then.” Garcia’s football career may continue next year with the AAF. He is currently on the roster of the Birmingham Iron but is hoping to join the Orlando Apollos and be reunited with Apollos head coach Steve Spurrier. The AAF is an eight-team professional league that will play a 10-game schedule starting in February. “I’m trying to figure out what is happening. I don’t know,” he said. “I’m preparing for it. I was telling Coach Spurrier I am going to stay ready regardless. I feel as good as I ever have. As far as physical shape, I feel freaking awesome. My arm is as strong as it’s ever been.”
  7. Gamecocks close to raising $30 million. Why the goal is now $40 million December 03, 2018 South Carolina’s athletic department announced Monday it is is nearly finished with its largest fundraising effort to date, and is looking for more. With $28 million of the $30 million goal raised, USC is looking to keep the fundraising going, changing the new target to $40 million. That extra money will cover nearly half of the $21 million improvements for Williams-Brice Stadium, which were announced in September. The drive began to fund the Long Family Football Operations Center, which is set to be finished at the end of the year. The $50 million facility will centralize elements of the football program that had been spread between the stadium and the far side of Gamecock Park. The changes to Williams-Brice will affect all four sides of South Carolina’s home football stadium. A $750,000 project to renovate the first floor of the Floyd Building on the north side of the stadium is projected to be completed in time for the 2019 season. A $21 million project that will add premium areas to the south, east and west sides of the stadium is expected to be completed in time for the 2020 season. In total, the renovations are expected to create 9,000 “premium access opportunities,” athletics director Ray Tanner said in September. The athletic department expects to earn more than $1 million annually (after repaying the $1.3 million of annual debt the project will create) by selling the access to the premium areas, Tanner said.
  8. After the initial bowl line was posted, money comes in heavy on Gamecocks side December 03, 2018 The South Carolina football team opened on Sunday as a modest 3 1/2 point favorite against Virginia in the Belk Bowl. That changed quickly. Within two hours, the line was bet up from 3 1/2 to 6 according to the VegasInsider line tracker. If it holds, it would be the second-most USC has been favored by against an SEC opponent (the highest was 10 against Tennessee and the Gamecocks won by three). South Carolina was a touchdown underdog against Michigan last season, and pulled off the Outback Bowl upset. USC has won four of its past five bowl game. For the year, Will Muschamp’s squad is 7-5 overall and 7-5 against the spread. They had a run of four consecutive covers snapped by only beating 30-point underdog Akron 28-3. Virginia went 8-4 ATS. The Cavs covered seven of the first eight games, but failed to in three of the last four.
  9. South Carolina Will Face Virginia in 2018 Belk Bowl GCF Staff Report | December 02, 2018 Kickoff Set for Saturday, December 29, at Noon The Belk Bowl announced today that the South Carolina Gamecocks will face the Virginia Cavaliers in the 2018 Belk Bowl. Kickoff is set for noon on Saturday, December 29. The game, celebrating its 17th year, will be televised nationally by ABC. For the 2018 Belk Bowl, South Carolina is designated the away team and Virginia is designated the home team. [MORE]
  10. GamecockFanatics players of the game: USC-Akron (READ ON) December 02, 2018
  11. Gamecocks bowling in the Belk Bowl most likely scenario. The question now is who will the Gamecocks face off with? (READ ON) December 02, 2018
  12. Will Muschamp explains why QB Jake Bentley played entire game against Akron December 01, 2018 Muschamp was also asked why senior quarterback Michael Scarnecchia didn’t get any playing time in his final home game in favor of junior starter Jake Bentley.
  13. Gamecocks beat Akron 28-3 in sloppy season finale with videos, stats, gallery & more GCF Staff Report December 01, 2018 VIDEOS COLUMBIA, S.C. — Deebo Samuel figured out another way to score a touchdown as he wrapped up his injury-cursed career at South Carolina in a rainy, messy makeup game. Samuel recovered a bad snap on a punt in the end zone and caught two touchdown passes as the Gamecocks (7-5) beat Akron 28-3 on Saturday. South Carolina was playing a low-stakes game on a wet, cold December afternoon to make up for one canceled by Hurricane Florence against the Zips (4-8), whose opener at Nebraska was cancelled by thunderstorms. (MORE)
  14. Injury Report South Carolina vs. Akron November 30, 2018 Aaron Sterling Turns out the sophomore defensive lineman is lost for the year, requiring surgery on a meniscus tear that he suffered against Ole Miss. Jaycee Horn The freshman cornerback was a late scratch against Clemson last week, sending fans into a panic when he turned up on the sidelines in a boot. He’s still rehabbing an ankle injury, but practiced this week and will likely give it a go against the Zips. J.J. Enagbare The freshman defensive end missed the Clemson game with a head injury, but should be fine for Akron. A.J. Turner The junior running back didn’t play against the Tigers after showing up on the sideline in a sling. However, he’s not only full go for Akron, he’ll also be trying his hand at playing some nickelback to help South Carolina’s depleted secondary.
  15. These USC juniors have decisions to make. Who’s most likely to leave early? November 29, 201 THE STATE South Carolina’s football coach and quarterback aren’t ready to talk about the Gamecocks juniors and the NFL, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early for USC fans to start to wonder about it. The Gamecocks have five juniors, including quarterback Jake Bentley, who could be NFL Draft picks if they leave college a year early. Bentley said this week that he hasn’t submitted paperwork to the NFL for early evaluation, a practice that has become commonplace around college football and is encouraged by many college coaches. “I don’t know (if I will or not),” Bentley. “I’m just trying to beat Akron right now. There is still a lot that I personally and we as a team haven’t accomplished yet.” Head coach Will Muschamp hasn’t talked to Bentley or any of his potentially draftable juniors about their plans and won’t until the regular season is complete, he said. “We play Akron on Saturday,” Muschamp said. “That’s what we’re worried about right now.” The Gamecocks (6-5) take on Akron (4-7) on Saturday in Williams-Brice Stadium at noon. Until Muschamp or the players are ready to talk about it, the rest of us can speculate about it so here are the four juniors with the greatest pro potential at the moment and our opinion of the likelihood they make an early leap to the NFL. Center Donell Stanley (85 percent) Stanley could be a senior this season but reclassified during the offseason after receiving a medical redshirt exemption from the NCAA. The 6-foot-3, 315-pound Floydale native has started 24 games in his career, including every game this year at center. Stanley said last week that he hasn’t made a final decision, but he showed his hand to some degree by participating in Senior Day ceremonies before the Chattanooga game. Defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw (75 percent) The 6-foot-6, 305-pound Charleston native hasn’t had the kind of statistically dominant season that South Carolina fans hoped he might have, but he’s still got nine tackles-for-loss and 3.5 sacks. And he’s still 6-foot-6, weighs 305 pounds and has the type of athleticism that will impress at the NFL Combine. The premium placed on explosive interior defensive linemen might make an early jump too temping for Kinlaw to pass on. Wide receiver Bryan Edwards (35 percent) Edwards is the only one of these five players who pops up on any of the early draft prospects rankings. He’s considered the eighth-best wide receiver prospect in the country by CBSSports.com. Teammate Deebo Samuel, a senior, is fifth. NFL scouts who have come through Columbia to see Samuel couldn’t help but see that Edwards is 6-foot-3, 220 pounds and averaging 14.9 yards per catch this season. He’s a pro. It’s just a matter of when. Quarterback Jake Bentley (20 percent) Bentley is on the hottest streak of his collegiate career. He’s thrown 14 touchdowns and two interceptions in his last four games, and he’s coming off a 510-yard, five-touchdown performance against the second-ranked defense in the country. At 6-foot-4, 224 pounds, he’s got the prototypical size for a pro quarterback. There might have been a time he was thinking about an early jump, but a slow start to the season probably convinced him that one more year would serve USC and his long-term pro potential better. Middle linebacker T.J. Brunson (10 percent) The Gamecocks’ leading tackler (88 stops) is 6-foot-1, 240 pounds, but he’d have a tough time standing out in a talented group of inside linebacker prospects this year.
  16. What changes could Muschamp’s coaching staff see this offseason? November 28, 2018 South Carolina offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon has become a bit of a name in the coaching carousel rumor mill. In the past, Will Muschamp’s defensive coordinator, Travaris Robinson, was the subject of similar talk. So what does the head coach think of any potential shifts in his staff? “We’re on the verge of some really good things here,” Muschamp said. “Moving into the new operations facility, the Ken and Cyndi Long Operations Center, opens the first of January. We’re on the verge of some special things here. Our staff, I don’t anticipate any changes.” McClendon’s name was thrown out for a potential opening at East Carolina should Scottie Montgomery get fired. In his first year running the offense at South Carolina, McClendon helped lift the team from 85th in yards per play to No. 20 in the country. McClendon is also known as one of the top recruiters on the staff and has assembled a cadre of blue chip wide receivers, the position he works most closely with. Robinson was giving a raise last season, putting his salary at $1.2 million a year. Defensive coordinator Lance Thompson was rumored to be connected to the Oklahoma State defensive coordinator opening last season. USC has enjoyed relative stability on the coaching staff across Muschamp’s three seasons. Of the nine assistants who started with him, seven remain. The only changes were Shawn Elliott taking the Georgia State job and getting replaced by Eric Wolford, and Kurt Roper getting let go, which made room for McClendon to move up and Dan Werner to start working with quarterbacks. But for the moment, Muschamp sees things staying stable. “I know our guys are working extremely hard,” Muschamp said. “Excited about our future.”
  17. Todd McShay talks about Jake Bentley’s NFL stock November 29, 2018 “I would love to see him come back for one more year,” McShay told The State on Thursday. “He and (Bryan) Edwards and the rest of that group and the defense gets healthy, I just think it would be good for him just as a player, just the maturity and everything else.” McShay, a longtime draft analyst for ESPN, has a “Day 2 grade” on Bentley, meaning there’s potential for the 6-foot-4, 224-pounder to be taken in the second of third round this April. Some QBs in front of him include Oregon’s Justin Herbert, N.C. State’s Ryan Finley, Missouri’s Drew Lock, Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham and Duke’s Daniel Jones. “I’m not going to guarantee that he would go there (on day two),” McShay said. “Coming into the year, I think I had him higher than most people. Physically, I don’t think he has any elite qualities, but I don’t see any weaknesses in his game and I think there’s potential to be developed into a good quarterback. “I think he has a chance to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. If not, a good backup.” The biggest knock against Bentley is his 1-10 record against ranked opponents. His last two performances in such matchups have produced impressive numbers, however. At No. 19 Florida on Nov. 10, Bentley completed 18 of 28 passes for 239 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. His 510 yards in Death Valley came from 32 completions on 50 attempts. He did it against a Clemson defense that could have at least five players taken in the ‘19 draft, including potential first rounders in linemen Clenin Ferrell and Dexter Lawrence. “It matters, but it’s not necessarily all wins and losses,” McShay said about Bentley’s big game shortcomings. “It’s studying each game and how they’ve played. ... I think prior to this (Clemson) game, you’d want better results in the bigger games. But I think this game helped. “It also adds to the point of ‘All right, come back next year, build on this momentum, win a couple big games with a team that’s going to continue to get better.’ And I think scouts will start to look at him a little bit differently in terms of how he performs in those big moments.” South Carolina hosts Alabama in Week 3 of next season. “Which you love,” McShay said. “Outsiders look at it, ‘Well, he may struggle in that game,’ I can’t wait to watch that tape. Even if they lose. I walk away from that Clemson loss liking him so much more than I liked him before that game.
  18. Big decision coming for one Gamecock: help the team now … or later November 28, 2018 THE STATE South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp was clear about this: Ernest Jones will play Saturday against Akron. Whether the freshman linebacker will play in the Gamecocks’ bowl game is a much more complicated question. Jones has already played three games, meaning he can get one more before losing his redshirt. He and Josh Belk are the only Gamecocks who still have that in doubt, and Muschamp has already said Belk will play and burn the year of eligibility. But Jones’ status remains up in the air. “We’ve talked about that,” Muschamp said. “It’s something I’d like to discuss with Ernest first. He’s definitely going to play this weekend, and then we’ll have a plan for the bowl game on what we want to do as far as that’s concerned.” The 6-foot-2, 235-pound linebacker appeared destined for a redshirt after a fractured back limited him in spring ball and there was some depth at the linebacker spots. Then that depth vanished, primarily because of injuries at other spots. First Eldridge Thompson was lost for the year. Damani Staley has been in and out of the lineup. Then attrition at the strongside spot moved Rosendo Louis out there, and he had to play more because of a woefully thin secondary. Jones played in the opener deep in a blowout, and then didn’t see the field for eight games. He got in during the blowout of Chattanooga, and then as Louis was stuck on the outside against Clemson, Jones played 24 snaps. He had five tackles against Clemson and Chattanooga, and forced a fumble against the Mocs. If he doesn’t step on the field for the bowl, it’s a whole extra year on campus. That might be something he wants, or it might not be. The team might desperately need him in the bowl, but it might now as well. So the question lingers. “That’s something we’ve discussed,” Muschamp said
  19. Here’s what USC fans need to watch for in CFP rankings ... and how it affects bowls November 27, 2018 South Carolina won’t be ranked Tuesday night in the College Football Playoff standings, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a reason for Gamecocks fans to watch. What USC fans should be looking for is where LSU lands. The Tigers were No. 7 last weekbut dropped a 74-72, seven-overtime marathon to Texas A&M on Saturday. How many spots that costs LSU in the rankings will help determine where South Carolina plays in a bowl game. Here’s how it works: Alabama and Georgia are locks for one of the New Year’s Six bowls and Florida is widely considered a New Year’s Six selection as well. If LSU can crack that group (which includes the CFB semifinals game in the Orange and Cotton bowls plus the Sugar, Peach, Rose and Fiesta bowls) then everyone else in the SEC moves up one spot in the pecking order. If the Tigers aren’t a New Year’s Six team, then they will play in the Citrus Bowl and knock everyone else down a spot. The best-case scenario for South Carolina seems to be the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl. The Gator Bowl, Outback Bowl, Liberty Bowl, Music City Bowl, Texas Bowl and Belk Bowl are all considered equal by the letter of the bowl selection process, but in spirit almost everyone understands that the Outback and Gator are a step above if for no other reasons than they are “Florida bowls.” After the New Year’s Six Bowls are filled in, the Citrus Bowl gets its pick of the remaining SEC teams. After that, the conference and the schools work together to fill the six pack of bowls just mentioned. If LSU goes to the Citrus, then Kentucky likely goes to the Outback, leaving the Gamecocks competing with the Aggies and probably Mississippi State for that spot in the Gator Bowl. Both teams have better records and are ranked higher than USC, and the Aggies beat the Gamecocks this season. That’s probably not a fight South Carolina would win in the conference office. If the Tigers get pulled up to New Year’s Six, then Kentucky goes to the Citrus and Texas A&M goes to the Outback and the Gamecocks have a better argument for getting to Jacksonville, Fla., for the Gator Bowl. If South Carolina doesn’t land in Jacksonville, then the Belk Bowl and Music City Bowl are the next most logical choices. A trip to the Belk Bowl would mean back-to-back games in Bank of America Stadium because the Gamecocks open the 2019 season there against North Carolina. That fact doesn’t increase their chances of playing in that game, but it’s not a deal breaker either. South Carolina has never played in a Music City Bowl, so that might have some appeal for USC administrators. The Liberty Bowl does not because of its location in Memphis, Tenn., and the fact that it’s the only one of the six pack that’s not played in an NFL stadium. The bowl selections will all be official Sunday night, but for now South Carolina fans can keep an eye on LSU to get some hints. SOUTH CAROLINA BOWL PROJECTIONS ▪ ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura — Liberty Bowl (Memphis) vs. Baylor, Dec. 31 ▪ ESPN’s Mitch Sherman — Belk Bowl (Charlotte) vs. Pitt, Dec. 29 ▪ Sports Illustrated — Belk Bowl (Charlotte) vs. Duke, Dec. 29 ▪ CBS Sports — Liberty Bowl (Memphis) vs. TCU, Dec. 31 ▪ SB Nation — Gator Bowl (Jacksonville) vs. Michigan State, Dec. 31 ▪ 247Sports — Gator Bowl (Jacksonville) vs. Purdue, Dec. 31 ▪ College Football News — Belk Bowl (Charlotte) vs. North Carolina State, Dec. 29 ▪ Sporting News — Gator Bowl (Jacksonville) vs. Northwestern, Dec. 31 ▪ Saturday Down South — Belk Bowl (Charlotte) vs. North Carolina State, Dec. 29 ▪ Bleacher Report — Belk Bowl (Charlotte) vs. Pittsburgh, Dec. 29 ▪ NBC Sports — Belk Bowl (Charlotte) vs. Georgia Tech, Dec. 29 ▪ Athlon Sports — Music City Bowl (Nashville) vs. Michigan State, Dec. 28
  20. Five things we learned from South Carolina’s loss to Clemson November 26, 2018 THE STATE South Carolina (6-5) fell 56-35 to No. 2 Clemson (12-0) on Saturday in Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C. Here are five things we learned from the game: Bryan McClendon is making himself a hot commodity The Gamecocks’ first-year offensive coordinator earned himself some attention on Saturday night and will start popping up on smaller school head coaching candidate lists sooner rather than later after South Carolina gained 600 yards against the nation’s second-ranked defense. It was the 11th-most yards the Gamecocks have ever gained and the second-most they have gained in this rivalry. Last week, South Carolina had 602 yards against Chattanooga, making this the second season in school history that the Gamecocks have had 600 or more yards in two games. (The first team to do it was Steve Taneyhill’s 1995 South Carolina team.) South Carolina has had more than 500 yards of offense five times this season. ‘Next man up’ is a great slogan but a bad way to live South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp and his players are conditioned to say “next man up” every time another defender gets injured, but that only works for so long. The Gamecocks’ battered defense had almost no chance against the Tigers without Bryson Allen-Williams, D.J. Wonnum, Aaron Sterling, Jaycee Horn, etc. Clemson gained 744 yards, the only team ever to top 700 against the Gamecocks. There’s little reason to expect it to get any better in the final two games of the season, against Akron this week and in the bowl game. Jake Bentley put his big game blues to rest That’s tough to do in a 21-point loss, but throwing for five touchdowns and one interception on the road against the No. 2 team in the country is tough, too. The Gamecocks’ junior quarterback threw for a career-high 510 yards (on a career-high 50 attempts). He needed to be almost perfect to give South Carolina a chance against the Tigers, and he almost was. Bentley is now 1-10 against ranked teams, but he (and his fans) now have the faith he can change that statistic next season. Deebo Samuel made the most of his opportunity After a quiet season, South Carolina’s senior wide receiver needed a big game in a big game to get himself back in the front of the mind of NFL talent evaluators. He got it. Samuel had 10 catches for a career-high 210 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown catch, and three total touchdowns. He also had catches for 44 and 32 yards, showing off the same explosiveness he flashed at the start of 2017. College football is just different now The Gamecocks and Tigers combined for 1,344 yards, a record for the rivalry. South Carolina averaged 8 yards per play. Clemson averaged 8.1. It was the fourth straight game in which the Gamecocks and their opponent have combined for more than 900 yards. Part of that is the state of the South Carolina defense, but part of it is the evolution of college football. Offensive coordinators are a step ahead of defensive coordinators at the moment and rules regarding player safety have only amplified that advantage. Expect more yards from everyone in the future.
  21. Gamecocks open as huge favorite for seventh win November 25, 2018 When South Carolina football rescheduled its 12th game after a hurricane canceled a September date with Marshall, the unspoken reason was to add another win to the resume. The Gamecocks will be in good position to do that according to Las Vegas. USC opened as a 28 1/2-point favorite against the Akron Zips. The teams will face off at noon in Williams-Brice Stadium. South Carolina is 7-4 against the spread, coming off covering a 26-point line against Clemson. USC has covered four weeks in a row. The Zips at 4-7 ATS, but did cover in a 21-point loss to Ohio. Akron, under Terry Bowden, knocked off Big Ten West Division Champion Northwestern, but went 2-6 in MAC play.
  22. Injury report: Defense takes another hit on the DL November 25, 2018 South Carolina’s defense was short-handed against Clemson, but the Gamecocks suffered another hit during the game. Eldridge Thompson is out for the season along with Jovaughn Gwyn, Jamyest Williams, Javon Charleston and OrTre Smith. J.T. Ibe and Nick Harvey are dealing with injuries that have sidelined them for the majority of the year while Bryson Allen-Williams and Jaylin Dickerson are out until at least the bowl game. So, with so many players out, the Gamecock defense is treading water now waiting for those guys to get back into the fold. DL Daniel Fennell could be out for the year as the team fears he tore an ACL against Clemson. Coach Will Muschamp after the 56-35 loss to Clemson said DL D.J. Wonnum had another surgery this week on his injured ankle. He could miss the remainder of the season. DL Aaron Sterling (knee) is out for the season, Muschamp said. DB Jaycee Horn (ankle) practiced this week and tried to play Saturday but couldn’t go. Wonnum was originally injured in the season opener against Coastal Carolina and then left last week’s game against Chattanooga. Sterling missed the previous two games.
  23. Here’s why Will Muschamp is so testy about all those South Carolina injuries November 24, 2018 South Carolina’s mounting injuries on defense are making Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp angry. He’s angry about the cut blocks that he said Saturday night have caused long-term injuries to defensive linemen Bryson Allen-Williams and Aaron Sterling and defensive end Daniel Fennell. “We’ve had three illegal cut blocks,” Muschamp said. “At the end of the day, we talk about player safety. Why don’t we eliminate that?” Muschamp has spoken to college football administrators about the issue, he said. “They don’t listen to me,” he said. Defensive end D.J. Wonnum and Sterling were surprise scratches from South Carolina’s lineup before Saturday night’s 56-35 loss to No. 2 Clemson. Wonnum had surgery to repair an ankle injury he suffered in the first game of the season and will miss next week’s game against Akron and possibly the bowl game as well. Sterling and Allen-Williams also have had ankle surgery that will keep them out at least until the bowl game. Defensive back Jaycee Horn also missed the Clemson game due to an ankle injury. Horn dressed out and warmed up with the Gamecocks prior to the game but came out immediately before kickoff without his pads and wearing a walking boot. Fennell suffered what Muschamp believes in an ACL tear on what Muschamp said was a cut block by the Tigers. Defensive lineman Keir Thomas was also unable to finish the game due to injury. Defensive backs J.T. Ibe, Nick Harvey, Jamyest Williams, Javon Charleston, Jaylin Dickerson already had been lost to long-term injuries. Asked about how much the injuries affected his team’s game plan, Muschamp snapped, “What do you think? That’s a dumb question” before quickly apologizing for losing his temper. Clemson gained 744 yards Saturday night, the most ever against South Carolina. The injuries are “huge for us,” middle linebacker T.J. Brunson said. “We always say next man up. We expect you to come in and make plays and do the right things, and we didn’t do it enough. You guys saw it. (The injured players) are definitely big parts of the program.” “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I am surrounded by guys who love to fight, who embrace the challenge. Career night. Senior wide receiver Deebo Samuel had a career-high 210 receiving yards and a career-high three touchdowns. Another career night. Freshman defensive lineman Rick Sandidge had a career-high seven tackles.

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