WR Sidney Rice

2005 Statistics

Coach: Steve Spurrier
7-5, 1 year
2005 Record: 7-5
at Vanderbilt WON 31-6
at Alabama WON 20-3
at Kentucky WON 12-7
at Florida LOST 14-48
at Clemson LOST 7-29
UCF WON 24-15
at Georgia LOST 15-17
TROY WON 45-20
at Auburn LOST 7-48
at Tennessee WON 16-15
at Arkansas WON 14-10
vs. Missouri LOST 31-38

2005 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2006 Outlook

The worst is over for Steve Spurrier. A year of trying to fit square pegs into round holes - trying to mold Lou Holtz’ recruits into his “fun’n’gun” system – only produced flashes of excellence (beat both Tennessee and his ex-UF squad; lost 17-15 to Georgia). Many of the old players remain, but they now know what to do/expect, and experience will make a world of difference (on offense, at least). This is the year when many of the pieces fall properly into place.

Spurrier now has a quarterback that he can trust and a wideout in Rice that pro scouts are lusting for. Blake Mitchell (as well as second team guy Cade Thompson) and this talented running game will mean only the line’s gelling will hold this team back from scoring at will. Spurrier is classically able to coax undiscovered talent from his players, many UF grads (in the NFL) prove that. Especially via hidden gems from the junior college ranks (a field that the Gamecocks have mined for several years), this team will have its fair share of wins.

The defense has to make strides in all areas to keep this team afloat. The front seven is small on the outside and big on the inside (best three LBs have departed), so coordinator Tyrone Nix – also in his second year here – has to prove his worth as to why Spurrier grabbed him from Southern Mississippi and improve on 2005’s dismal 85th ranking for run stopping. The secondary also replaces about half of its best guys, making for many possible outcomes depending upon how the turnover plays out. This much new blood reflects the tall task at hand, and much unproven depth will be the key for the qualified starters to stay fresh. It can all fall together for the D, or it can also fly apart. With an offense that will hold its own, for the Gamecocks, as the defense goes, so goes their win total.

A favorable schedule has Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas and Auburn all coming into Columbia (eight of 12 are at home). Only travel to Gainesville and Clemson – both in November when USC is hitting on all pistons – is stacked against them. Last season’s four game win streak late in their slate shows that if Spurrier gets his guys going, they are formidable. Spurrier & Co. can top last season’s total of seven wins and challenge for their conference half, but will likely fall short of the SEC title game in the end. Still, this is a team that will be competitive week-in and week-out, and the Williams-Brice faithful deserve no less. If they can make a major (January) bowl appearance, everything will be on track for 2007 to really be the Gamecock’s year.

Projected 2006 record: 8-4
CB Fred Bennett
QB - 3.5 DL - 2.5
RB - 3 LB - 2
WR - 4 DB - 3
OL - 2 ..

Passing: Blake Mitchell, 315-186-12, 2370 yds., 17 TD

Rushing: Mike Davis, 146 att., 666 yds., 5 TD

Receiving: Sidney Rice, 70 rec., 1143 yds., 13 TD

Scoring: Sidney Rice, 13 TD, 78 pts.

Punting: none

Kicking: Ryan Succop, 0-2 FG, 0 pts.

Tackles: Mike West, 47 tot., 24 solo

Sacks: Stanley Doughty, Dakota Walker - 3.5 each

Interceptions: Fred Bennett, 3 for 1 yd.

Kickoff Returns: Carlos Thomas, 21 ret., 23.9 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: Kenny McKinley, 18 ret., 4.6 avg., 0 TD


OFFENSE: Daccus Turman-FB, Kris Clark-WR, Carson Askins-TE, Jabari Levey-OT, Freddy Saint-Preux-OG, Fran Person-C, Goddard Na'Shan-OG, Josh Brown-K/P
DEFENSE: De'Adrian Coley-DE, Chris Tucker-NT, Orus Lambert-DE, Lance Laury-LB, Ricardo Hurley-LB, Dustin Lindsey-LB, Terrell Davis-LB, Johnathan Joseph-CB (NFL), Tremaine Tyler-FS, Ko Simpson-ROV (NFL)

Blake Mitchell is a drop-back hurler with a sound arm and good mechanics. But it took a former Heisman-winning quarterback (from 1966) to realize the junior's potential. Mitchell will be asked to do a lot, as Spurrier has traditionally demanded such of returning quarterbacks. Mitchell, a junior, won't win any sprints, but he will effectively lead this offense. Mitchell is now seasoned and therefore will be more comfortable in the Spurrier system, which puts heavy demand on accuracy and decision-making. Of biggest concern is his ability to stay on his feet with a new line (was sacked 30 times last year). Spurrier has paid particular attention to redshirt-freshman Cade Thompson. Thompson came to USC with a relatively lofty prep resume — 43-1 record as a high school starter and a 35-to-4 touchdown-to-INT ratio his senior year (Tennessee Division 4-A Player of the Year award). Thompson looked better in the final spring game, but his lack of experience at this level would cause the offense to step back.

Running Back
With no experience in the backfield last season, the Gamecocks' running game struggled to place 108th in the nation. Sophomore Mike Davis now seems well adjusted as proven by the way he looked to end the last campaign. What becomes of Davis now that redshirt junior Cory Boyd is back? Boyd missed last season because of suspension while Davis got the playing time, and their individual battle will be heated – advantage Gamecocks. Look for both to get carries and rotate so fresh legs will always be plentiful. The power of Davis seems to mean he is the better and more polished runner (4.46 in the 40), especially between the tackles), while ex-two-way guy (DB in prep; 4.5 in the 40) Boyd is the better athlete. Bobby Wallace provides marginal depth here – the sophomore was not nearly as good as his prep résumé suggests, and needs to bulk/toughen up to have more impact. FB Lanard Stafford walked on in 2004 and this converted-lineman can take out any sized DLman in his way. Since Stafford is not a runner, look for true freshman Clark Gaston (4.6 40 time) to see carries, as Spurrier uses his other backs quite often. This unit will rebound nicely.

Sidney Rice, the sensational sophomore and gem of this team, is one of the best players in the country, regardless of position. A preseason second-team Nationalchamps.net All-American selection, this 6’4” Gaffney-native will garner double-teams - he can distract enough attention without even getting the ball to make the rest of the talent positions better. With amazing athletic ability (South Carolina’s basketball Player of the Year as a prep senior) and hands of gold, Rice just has to stay another year past this one to become the nation’s best WR. What is in question, however, is how Rice will heal a broken thumb suffered during spring ball. Kenny McKinley is an ideal second option to Rice, and will have a breakout campaign as he grows from his modest showing as a freshman. Neither is a burner, but both find ways to be open and gain YAC galore. Behind Rice and McKinley is a stable of athletic receivers: senior Noah Whiteside is a proven deep threat as a career reserve and should also have impact after injury (broken ankle) limited his efforts last year; O.J. Murdock (sub-4.4 speed) is also part of the future as this freshman gets his first taste of action; and Freddie Brown, a 6’4” frosh, also has to prove his way into more action. Senior Syvelle Newton, effective when he sneaks under center or takes a handoff, finished second to Rice for total receptions. But the Wallace-native was held out of spring ball as he bounces back from a torn Achilles and could be redshirted with so many qualified reserves. Like many Spurrier WR stables at UF, this group is too stacked for all of those qualified to see enough action – a good problem to have if no one transfers.

Tight End
RS freshman Jared Cook has been asked to move here so the sudden loss of Carson Askins can be offset. Cook isn’t close to being big enough to make necessary blocks, but senior Andy Boyd (recovering from torn ACL) and juniors David Laggis and Rob Pavlovic are. Any of these three is capable of making it into an open area (especially in goal line situations) and burning foes, but Cook regularly going over the middle is what we will see the most.

Offensive Line
Offensive line coach John Hunt will have his work cut out as three of his starters have departed, though seven potential replacements are on the way. The patchwork unit will have its rough spots early, as unfamiliarity with each other will show, but not for long. Senior center Chris White will be asked to shoulder most of the leadership role and can do so after starting 28 games (all 12 in ’05), though most of his action has been at guard. Junior Will Brown needs to recover from his back injury, for he started last campaign and will again if healthy (junior Jared Thompson is slated otherwise, and is no slouch). Thomas Coleman similarly started four games inside, and (any combination of) these three would be a good nucleus. Sophomore Gurminder Thind will handle the blindside at left tackle, so watch for excessive sacks if he doesn’t catch on quickly. Junior guard Jamon Meredith has the footwork and speed (and mind as a former-DE) to handle rush ends from his new right tackle spot. Three new four-star recruits – Garrett Anderson (No.8 prospect at guard), proven JUCO-transfer Clarence Bailey, and hulking Kevin Young – join two upperclassmen as quality depth/reserves. This line should come together quickly and be all they can be for Spurrier to achieve with any dimension.

Mitchell has made mistakes, but has also grown to make strides in the “fun’n’gun” system and soon his success will become another notch in Spurrier’s legacy. Backup QB Thompson seems to get this approach even more. With a superstar in Rice who still has not reached his full potential and a deep, talented receiving corps that will prosper from the double-teams opposing secondaries will have to employ on Rice, the USC offense will likely have more of a big-play dimension this season. And as Davis and Boyd provide a 1-2 running punch, this offense will not be stopped easily. But in the SEC, the conference where the best defenses consistently reside, Spurrier (also their offensive coordinator) could also struggle with his revamped line. Better teams on paper, with all the promise in the world, have done poorly here, so nothing is assured until proven, and finishing 100th (ranking for total offense) in the nation last campaign means the old ball coach has a long way to go. Simply put, there is a huge range as to where the Gamecocks could land within their ability to move the football. We are looking for a good showing, but consistency is the key to USC challenging for their conference half.


WR Syvelle Newton


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Blake Mitchell-Jr (6-3, 206) Cade Thompson-Fr (6-2, 181)
FB Lanard Stafford-Jr (5-9, 242) Clark Gaston-Fr (6-2, 233)
TB Mike Davis-So (5-9, 210) Cory Boyd-Jr (6-1, 208)
Bobby Wallace-So (5-7, 185)
WR Sidney Rice-So (6-3, 200) Mike West-Jr (6-0, 213)
O.J. Murdock-Fr (5-11, 187)
WR Syvelle Newton-Sr (6-0, 218) Kenny McKinley-So (5-11, 181)
Noah Whiteside-Sr (5-10, 180)
TE Jared Cook-Fr (6-5, 229) Robert Pavlovic-Jr (6-4, 241)
Andy Boyd-Sr (6-4, 271)
OT Gurminder Thind-So (6-4, 286) Seth Edwards-Sr (6-3, 265)
OG Thomas Coleman-Sr (6-3, 315) Bryan Kingrey-Jr (6-1, 237)
C Chris White-Sr (6-3, 216) Jeremy Burgess-So (6-4, 286)
OG James Thompson-Jr (6-3, 323) William Brown-Jr (6-4, 287)
OT Jamon Meredith-Jr (6-4, 290) Justin Sorensen-So (6-7, 309)
K Ryan Succop-So (6-3, 214) Jordan Dodds-Fr (5-10, 192)



Defensive Line
Much like the offensive line, the defensive front four will have to come together quickly despite little experience. As a whole, the ends are undersized, though converted-LB Jordin Lindsey can stop the run as he holds the corner well. Soph Dakota Walker has much promise seeing how he achieved 3.5 sacks out of his 13 tackles in 2005. His upside will kick in as he now starts opposite Lindsey. Ryan Brown will rotate in for either and continue to produce, though there is no experience (two RS freshmen at least add size) behind him as far as quality depth on the outside. New starter Marque Hall has not lived up to his promise, but fellow junior (331lb.) nose tackle Stanley Doughty will barrel through the opposition and keep doing it all day. Incoming frosh Kenrick Ellis should have an impact if not redshirted. For a unit that surrendered more than four yards per carry and more than 2,000 yards on the ground (ranked 87th as run stoppers last season), the horizon should brighten some as this DL comes together.

This corps features two ball-hawks, one with a nose for following the play and one masher with a nose for contact. Still, replacing USC’s three top producers (at LB) won’t prove easy, and this undersized crew has its work cut out. At the outside positions, “stinger” Marvin Sapp and “wolf” Cody Wells provide tremendous ability in sniffing out lateral plays. Wells is tremendously athletic and keen, having played running back and defensive back in high school, while Sapp brings an experienced and acute knowledge of the position’s subtleties. Both are solid tacklers, but neither (nor the rest of the reserves on the outside) is big enough to truly take on mobile 300+-sized OLmen, of which the SEC has plenty. The need for better run stopping could ostensibly suffer. But with their demure size, we will see excellent coverage continue underneath. Their new starter at MLB, JUCO-transfer Jasper Brinkley, is cut in the mold of all the great SEC linebackers — big, burly and surly. His lack of I-A experience will result in some early missteps, but he’ll be one of the best linebackers in the conference once he gets his bearings. Among the back-ups, only Yvan Banag stands out. Though only 5’9”, this converted-DB plays much bigger - Banag has sideline-to-sideline speed and will impress.

Defensive Back
Cornerback Fred Bennett returns for his third year as a starter and is the leader of this secondary. Bennett gets the job done from his side, and will show super-quick converted-WR Carlos Thomas how he can make the most of his huge talents. Stoney Woodsen is the only proven backup here, so any (rash of) injuries would impact coverage. The safeties are a bit more of a question mark, though senior Brandon Isaac is a tremendous athlete who will “rove” as he covers ground and uses his 6’2” frame to smother when in coverages. Isaac replaces an all-American (Ko Simpson), so his role is huge. Mychal Belcher is but a sophomore who has to produce like the starter he has become in only his first true campaign. Juniors Chris Hampton (started five games in ’05) and Ty Erving will see time as Belcher missteps – and if Mychal doesn’t have any failings, this secondary will see much less drop off. Regardless, this speaks volumes for the depth at either safety slot. Practicing against Spurrier’s complex offensive schemes will give this unit a leg up against the SEC quality foes that will surely challenge them often. Finishing ranked 22nd in pass defense won’t be repeated, but this can be an effective unit if they keep the play in front of them and take fewer risks.

There are three things in football no one can teach: size, speed and experience. This defense lacks two of the three. The front seven is meager at best, and the entire unit has only four returning starters. Speed is plentiful, but this unit will struggle to handle the kinds of bumps and bruises their rough conference provides weekly. There are certainly NFL-caliber players, but they’ll be hard to find unless this unit gels early. An improved pass-rush last season was a good sign of things to come, but as this group struggles to stop anything less than a Mack truck from getting past the line, things won’t get much better, and then they will again be on the field 32+ minutes per game. This D finished 47th (total yards), and whether they rank higher (which we feel they will) or lower will dictate how far the whole Gamecock squad goes. If they can improve in only one stat – allowing foes 41% of their third-down conversions – they can help make this a stronger campaign.


WR/DB Mike West


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Jordin Lindsey-Jr (6-3, 248) Shea McKeen-Fr (6-4, 258)
DT Marque Hall-Jr (6-3, 291) Matt Raysor-So (6-3, 313)
NT Stanley Doughty-Jr (6-0, 331) Nathan Pepper-So (6-1, 278)
DE Dakota Walker-So (6-3, 226) Ryan Brown-Jr (6-0, 247)
SLB Marvin Sapp-So (5-11, 216) Yvan Banag-So (5-9, 205)
MLB Jasper Brinkley-Jr (6-2, 250) Curtis Rice-Jr (6-1, 233)
WLB Gerrod Sinclair-Fr (6-0, 221) Cody Wells-Jr (5-11, 212)
Brent Davis-Fr (6-1, 204)
CB Fred Bennett-Sr (6-1, 199) Stoney Woodson-So (5-11, 186)
CB Carlos Thomas-So (5-10, 174) Jeremy Ware-Fr (5-10, 188)
ROV Brandon Isaac-Sr (6-2, 191) Ty Erving-Jr (5-10, 197)
FS Chris Hampton-Jr (5-11, 186) Mychal Belcher-Fr (6-0, 190)
P Ryan Succop-So (6-3, 214) Charles Brady-Fr (6-1, 154)




Ryan Succop will be given first chance to take over for three-year starter Josh Brown at both positions, and will rely on his powerful leg (half of his kick offs were touchbacks last season). His high school career was marked by impressive statistics and tremendous consistency, and we expect to see this ex-soccer star punting for 40+ per try.

Succop will benefit from great kick coverage though – USC still has lots to offer at the “burner” position. There are many adept athletes behind many of the defensive starters, and Spurrier has typically rewarded those who make impacts on coverage with increased playing time.

Return Game
Carlos Thomas was very impressive last season, though he failed to take one to the house. Thomas averaged nearly 24 yards per KR, and should become the team’s top option for punt returns. Kenny McKinley didn’t produce as the top choice for PRs (4.6 yards per try and a long of 13), so someone will likely displace him from Spurrier’s vault of speedy DBs/WRs/RBs.