QB Stephen Garcia
9-3-09 at North Carolina State (Thur.)
9-12-09 at Georgia
9-24-09 MISSISSIPPI (Thur.)
10-10-09 KENTUCKY
10-17-09 at Alabama
10-31-09 at Tennessee
11-7-09 at Arkansas
11-14-09 FLORIDA
11-28-09 CLEMSON
Coach: Steve Spurrier
28-22, 4 years

2008 Statistics

2008 RESULTS: 7-6
at Vanderbilt LOST 17-24
UAB WON 26-13
at Mississippi WON 31-24
at Kentucky WON 24-17
at Florida LOST 6-56
at Clemson LOST 14-31
Iowa LOST 10-31

2008 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR


2009 Outlook

While there is no way the Ole Ball Coach should be considered on the hot seat, Steve Spurrier has failed to meet any of his own lofty expectations after four years in Columbia. The Gamecocks have never won an SEC title since they entered the league 17 years ago and do not appear any closer to this goal. Spurrier is 28-22 in those four years and his team wound up losing their last three games of 2008 by very definitive margins. The two main aspects that have hindered Spurrier's efforts have been his offensive line and, amazingly, the quarterback position.

Stephen Garcia actually looks like the best man to cure the longtime sufferings behind center after spending his first two seasons in the coaching doghouse. Suspensions have kept him out of every spring competition, until now. Originally, Garcia was a handpicked recruit expected to turn the tide. However, he tossed more interceptions than touchdowns in his first year of limited reps a year ago and has not quite learned how to make the proper reads in this system. A visually evident sore point for Spurrier with the many passers before him, this aspect has the tendency to drive Spurrier nuts. It does not help matters when the offensive line is giving up 39 sacks (leads the SEC) and the only handshake offered is the one helping the QB off the ground.

Expect some hefty changes within the offensive schematics. Major overhauls have also occurred in the coaching ranks. After the disappointing Outback Bowl performance, retooling the O included a new RB, TE, QB and OL coach, and a new defensive coordinator should help stem opponent’s points. Look for more one-back spread sets and even an occasional look with the "Cocky" formation (as Spurrier likes to call it), another form of the dual-threat "Wildcat" formation that has recently become in vogue. None of these alterations will do much good unless new offensive line coach Eric Wolford can make some sense out of his ailing blockers. Injuries continue to wreak havoc and have transformed a capable OL into one of the league's worst. There is still much work to be done up front but expect some improvement, which can only be good news for the people handling the pigskin.

The 4-2-5 defense installed last fall held ground. A series of injuries, suspensions and other circumstances have recently forced many of the positions on this side of the ball to become dangerously thin. Defense is not the problem however. The Gamecocks will continue to field 11 guys capable of lining up with any team on the schedule. Preseason All-American Eric Norwood decided to stick around for his final season and his linebacking partners are stockpiled with talent. Some concerns exist in the secondary where first-year players will be called upon to man the ever-important corner positions.

The biggest question for South Carolina football...can the Gamecocks win the SEC? The answer in 2009 is no, especially with Florida imposing their dominance. A more reasonable expectation would be to get over the seven-win hump, a feat that has only been accomplished once since 2001. That’s when Spurrier was finishing his last year as the Gator coach.

September games will test this newly aligned coaching staff right off the bat. Included in the first-month stretch will be extremely challenging games against two of the SEC's preseason favorites, Georgia and Ole Miss. This is a crucial transition season with all of USC’s fresh coaching faces. They’ll try to incorporate young athletes with little or no experience into brand new schemes. Sitting at home for the holidays watching others play in bowl games could be a realistic outcome. No matter the end result, this football team’s talent falls short to few.

Projected 2009 record: 6-6
LB Eric Norwood
QB - 3.5 DL - 3.5
RB - 3.5 LB - 4
WR - 3.5 DB - 3.5
OL - 2.5 ..
2008 Statistical Rankings
Total Off:
Sacks Allow:
Total Def:

Passing: Stephen Garcia, 65-122-8, 832 yds., 6 TD

Rushing: Stephen Garcia, 70 att., 198 yds., 2 TD

Receiving: Moe Brown, 30 rec., 391 yds., 1 TD

Scoring: Weslye Saunders, 3 TD, 18 pts.

Punting: Spencer Lanning, 48 punts, 42.1 avg.

Kicking: None

Tackles: Eric Norwood, 75 tot., 49 solo

Sacks: Eric Norwood, 9 sacks

Interceptions: Chris Culliver, 3 for 43 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Chris Culliver, 34 ret., 24.1 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: Chris Culliver, 2 ret., 9.0 avg., 0 TD


CB Stephon Gilmore – Mr. Football in the Palmetto State enrolled early and will see time at both CB and WR in certain offensive sets.
RB Jarvis Giles – One of the quickest backs to come out of Florida. He too has enrolled early and is pushing for a role in an overloaded backfield.
WR Tori Gurley – A 6’5 redshirt frosh who was also an accomplished basketball player. One of the best jump ball/fade route receivers working in the receiver mix.
2009 College Football Preview
OFFENSE: Mike Davis-TB, Kenny McKinley-WR, Larry Freeman-TE, Jamon Meredith-OG, Justin Sorensen-OT, Ryan Succop-K, Jared Cook-TE (NFL), Chris Smelley-QB (transferred)
DEFENSE: Jordin Lindsey-DE, Marvin Sapp-WLB, Jasper Brinkley-MLB, Stoney Woodson-CB, Carlos Thomas-CB, Emanuel Cook-SS (NFL), Captain Munnerlyn-CB (NFL)

Stephen Garcia is in a position to take over the job he was handpicked for two years ago when coach Steve Spurrier recruited the highly acclaimed Tampa native. Both of the players he had been competing with have now transferred. Last year's eight game starter Chris Smelley is now a catcher for the Alabama baseball team and Tommy Beecher opted to attend Liberty University in Virginia. Garcia did get three starts last fall and played in five others. He has to improve dramatically in terms of reading the field, an area of his game that was hurt by how he spent the previous two springs on suspension. His eight interception total of 2008 culminated in a forgettable Outback Bowl performance where he tossed three of them. The spread running package coaches have installed will give Garcia a chance to show what he can also do with his feet. He is the Gamecock's leading returning rusher, a facet that can be attributed to a lagging running game, but he is mobile enough to run this scheme. Reid McCollum is competing with fellow redshirt frosh Aramis Hillary and walk-on Zac Brindise for the backup role. The No. 2 quarterback has always found playing time under impatient Spurrier's rotating scheme, and the job behind Garcia is open for the takings. If the season were to start today, McCollum would be the likely answer. None appears ready to play/impact in the SEC.

Since Mike Davis’ departure, the RB spot is wide-open, and that would be an understatement. A new RB coach takes over in Jay Graham, and yes, he has stated that upwards of four ball carriers could easily share time while he decides on a first teamer. This spring, the reps have been divided equally. The veteran of the bunch, junior Brian Maddox is beginning to emerge as a front-runner. His 400-pound bench press is an example of his strength/power. Coaches have conceded that Maddox should have gotten more opportunities last year. He is the only tailback that tips the scales at over 200 pounds. Eric Baker displayed brief flashes as a frosh last season while recording the most rushing yards of all the returning backs. The excitement on campus concerns two newly recruited prep stars; both Jarvis Giles and Stephon Gilmore graduated early so as to enroll this spring. Giles was a top 25 Florida prospect and one of the quickest backs in the state. Gilmore is a former prep cornerback who also knows the QB spot since he rushed for 1,300 yards from that position, which earned him the coveted Mr. Football award here in the Palmetto State. Spurrier has already stated he wants to install a run package for Gilmore...heady stuff for a guy that has been on campus for less than a full semester. Gilmore could revamp how South Carolina’s backfield works. If and when coaches choose to use a fullback, Patrick DiMarco is an extremely capable blocker that has logged significant playing time. Look for DiMarco in the flat once they’re in the red zone. After finishing dead last in the SEC in rushing the past two seasons, coaches have been working on implementing run packages out of a one-back set and shot gun formations. Also, ala Gilmore, get ready for the "Cocky" formation, a scheme synonymous with the "Wildcat" formation (that became popular in the NFL last season) where a running back or receiver will line up under center.

Gone is one of the SEC's best receivers and school record holder (in most categories) Kenny McKinley. Two of the remaining incumbents are Moe Brown and Jason Barnes. Dominating this spring, Brown has elevated his play and is catching everything in sight, according to coaches. The first three seasons of Brown's career have some critics labeling his career as a bust, and apparently Brown has heard the rumblings. Barnes is also making a case to become the No.1 option via his strong spring. Not to be ignored, Joe Hills looks to fit the big man role with his 6'4 height advantage and is going to see plenty of reps. The possession receiver of the group could be Dion LeCorn. After short stints on defense the second half of last season, he is back and is starting to display some of the star potential shown as a true frosh in 2007. But when looking for one-on-one skills, look no further than newcomer Tori Gurley, the 6'5 accomplished prep basketball player. After a two-year stint at two different prep schools, Gurly has shown a knack for catching the fade and jump balls. While he lacks top speed, he could be a huge asset in the end zone. With Jared Cook leaving early for the NFL Draft, keep an eye on tight end Weslye Saunders full package of size, speed and blocking ability. With TE depth so thin, two defensive ends, Byron McKnight and Cliff Matthews, are going to get a look here. Matthews played TE in high school and is/was one of the most athletic players on the Gamecocks defensive front wall. Spurrier said he might already be the team's best blocking TE.

A constant problem during Steve Spurrier's tenure has been his offensive line, and last season just continued the deficient trend. The pass protection has been awful, which yielded 39 sacks (ranked 111th nationally) and a nation-leading 27 interceptions. Too often, ball carriers were buried immediately. To fix the situation, new line coach Eric Wolford came in from Illinois. The talent is there for shaping, although depth may be a serious problem that only gets compounded by the fact this group just cannot stay healthy. Monster-sized Jarriel King started 11 games at tackle last fall and has the potential to be one of the leagues best after transferring from Georgia Military. But King has not yet been cleared to play due to an irregular heartbeat. Quinn Richardson has been working primarily on the right side and has a solid chance to be the starter here. Richardson’s experience is short after working with the first-team last summer before his lacking play meant being replaced by Hutch Eckerson, who also is competing for time with King sitting. Coaches will have to wait until fall before naming a starting five since two more Georgia Military transfers have yet to arrive - Rokevious Watkins and Steven Singleton. Another health concern rests with guard Lemuel Jeanpierre as he remains “snake bitten”. The fifth-year senior is out with another knee injury that will require surgery. Hopes are that Heath Batchelor, who has spent time at guard the past two seasons, can return to the team after leaving a year ago for personal reasons. The cement of the group is center Garrett Anderson with 21 starts to his name. He is the Gamecock's best and should be the lone Gamecock blocker to see some post-season accolades. Coaches are pushing him hard in an effort to build some much-needed leadership. Work-in-progress is our best description for this un-gelled, fledging group.


C Garrett Anderson


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Stephen Garcia-So (6-2, 219) Reid McCollum-RFr (6-3, 218)
Aramis Hillary-RFr (6-0, 197)
FB Patrick DiMarco-Jr (6-0, 243) Dustyn McElroy-Sr (6-0, 239)
TB Brian Maddox-Jr (5-11, 224) Eric Baker-So (5-11, 194)
Jarvis Giles-Fr (5-11, 183)
WR Moe Brown-Sr (6-0, 183) Joe Hills-Jr (6-4, 199)
WR Jason Barnes-So (6-4, 199) Tori Gurley-RFr (6-5, 227)
WR Dion LeCorn-Jr (5-11, 220) Matt Clements-So (6-0, 185)
TE Weslye Saunders-Jr (6-5, 280) Byron McKnight-So (6-4, 229)
OT Jarriel King-Jr (6-5, 312) Hutch Eckerson-Jr (6-6, 290)
OG Lemuel Jeanpierre-Sr (6-4, 294) Pierre Andrews-Jr (6-2, 285)
C Garrett Anderson-Sr (6-4, 307) Ryan Broadhead-So (6-5, 261)
OG Terrence Campbell-Jr (6-3, 290) T.J. Johnson-RFr (6-4, 297)
OT Quintin Richardson-So (6-3, 283) Kyle Nunn-So (6-6, 293)
K Spencer Lanning-Jr (5-11, 188) Adam Yates-RFr (6-1, 200)



The line took a major hit when narcotics investigators arrested tackle Ladi Ajiboye for marijuana possession. He is currently suspended from the team, but Spurrier has not ruled out a return. Ajiboye started 22 games his first two years for USC and is truly one of the top six or seven tackles in the conference. But his absence has to be accepted to where this DL can operate without him…a tough task, no doubt, but a necessary one for the group to mentally move on and, therefore, to do its best. Then if Ajiboye returns, it’s all gravy, so to speak. The two best available inside options for now appear to be Nathan Pepper and Travian Robertson since they are the only players with experience. Former DE Robertson has put together a mediocre career, but came on strong to finish out 2008. His continued improvement will be important, regardless. Pepper has been with the program since 2005 and is going to be receiving all of the double teams under the current conditions. On the outside, the 6'8, 281 pound Clifton Geathers has yet to make an impact. The younger brother of Cincinnati Bengals DE Robert Geathers, Clifton is starting to make some noise. The Gamecock faithful has been waiting for him to break out, and 2009 could turn wishes into reality. Needless to say, he too has extremely high expectations on his shoulders. The other projected starter is Cliff Matthews. Coaches feel he will have a chance to play in the NFL down the road. Matthews has also been displaying his athletic skills while working in with the tight ends on the offensive side this spring. Young Chaz Sutton has begun his first year in Columbia. The former Gator commitment is making an early case for extended playing time. Another huge option is the 6'7 redshirt frosh Devin Taylor who was a Class 4A state triple jump champion in high school.

The most positive defensive outlook rests with this unit. Big Eric Norwood considered taking his chances in the NFL Draft, but this “sure bet” changed his mind and decided to finish his Gamecock career. He is a NationalChamps.net 2009 Preseason All-American honoree and should be on the preliminary watch list for most every major college award honoring his position. He is the SEC's active leader in both sacks and tackles-for-loss. The 252-pound linebacker is qualified to man any spot within the defensive front seven. Rodney Paulk has started 22 games in his career and is the appointed successor to Jasper Brinkley in the middle after taking a medical redshirt last fall due to a knee injury. The former Freshman All-American is not as big as Norwood and won't garner as much attention, which bodes well for the productivity of this forgotten gem. Paulk has a nose for the ball and is the strongest player on the squad according strength-training results. Both have been given light demand from coaches this spring in order to give JUCO transfers Tony Straughter and Josh Dickerson most of the reps. In this 4-2-5 defensive alignment, the SPUR position is a hybrid linebacker/safety. Darian Stewart started every game there last fall but has been moved to strong safety due to the <sigh> large array of injuries and question marks in the secondary. That move could be permanent depending on the performance of redshirt freshman Alonzo Winfield, whose 4.38-clocked 40-yard dash make him a good bet to hold the spot.

The heaviest team losses at any one position are at cornerback. The nation's third rated pass defense of ’08 will have to reload. The entire backfield was hit hard by both graduation and the early-to-the-NFL declarations (Cook and Munnerlyn). The depth on the corner is so thin that walk-ons have been counted on, at least until August arrives. And much like many other units on this team, injuries and suspensions have been no stranger here. The troubles of C.C. Whitlock continue to hamper his plight. He has been suspended indefinitely and is apparently running out of chances. While his absence hurts the unit’s depth, prior to his suspension he was losing ground to both Akeem Auguste and Stephon Gilmore in their competition. Gilmore has taken Columbia by storm. As mentioned in the offensive preview, South Carolina's Mr. Football of a year ago enrolled early and will be heavily counted on to take over one of the corner spots. At 6'2, Gilmore has the size advantage over the others (none is taller than 5'10). Through the spring he continued to physically outmatch the receivers and made a highlight reel with some of his interceptions until an ankle injury sidelined him. The injury allowed smaller Addison Williams to get some much-needed reps, which has unveiled his difficulties when matching up with bigger receivers. The strong safety is Darian Stewart, who started every game at SPUR a year ago. One way or another, Stewart is going to play a big role in this scheme. The hard-hitting senior is one of the unsung heroes of the team. The other returning starter is free safety Chris Culliver, who has the potential to be an All-SEC performer. While the holes may appear glaring due to key personnel losses, this year's version is more than capable of upholding South Carolina’s stellar reputation as one of the SEC’s best.


FS Chris Culliver


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Clifton Geathers-Jr (6-8, 281) Devin Taylor-RFr (6-7, 232)
DT Nathan Pepper-Sr (6-1, 300) Melvin Ingram-So (6-2, 297)
DT Travian Robertson-Jr (6-4, 283) Ladi Ajiboye-Jr (6-1, 285)
DE Cliff Matthews-Jr (6-4, 249) Chaz Sutton-Fr (6-3, 243)
WLB Eric Norwood-Sr (6-1, 252) Shaq Wilson-So (5-11, 210)
MLB Rodney Paulk-Jr (6-0, 216) Josh Dickerson-Jr (6-1, 221)
SPUR Alonzo Winfield-So (6-0, 222) Reggie Bowens-RFr (6-2, 233)
CB Addison Williams-Jr (5-8, 177) C.C. Whitlock-So (5-10, 173)
CB Akeem Auguste-So (5-10, 180) Stephon Gilmore-Fr (6-1, 188)
SS Darian Stewart-Sr (5-11, 216) DeVonte Holloman-Fr (6-2, 211)
FS Chris Culliver-Jr (6-0, 190) Antonio Allen-So (6-1, 202)
P Spencer Lanning-Jr (5-11, 188) Eric Davis-RFr (6-2, 178)




The second-leading career scorer in USC Football history is gone. “Mr. Automatic”, Ryan Succop has moved on. His glaring loss has forced coaches to be a little more patient. The leading candidate being considered is Spencer Lanning, who averaged 42.1 yards last year in his first season as the starting punter. He is the only player on the roster to have kicked before at the college level. Lanning has not done anything to lock down the No. 1 spot just yet. A heated contest that should extend into the fall can be expected; walk-on Adam Yates who has shown a strong enough leg to at least prove capable of handling kickoff duties. Several other walk-on/transfers will be given a chance to enter the competition, as well. Chris Culliver has handled the kickoff return duties in each of the past two seasons and is just 300 yards away from becoming the school's all-time leader. The competition to handle punts will be wide open after the struggles of ’08. Expect to see guys like CB Akeem Auguste and WR Dion LeCorn, among others, get opportunities until one proves worthy of commanding the spot.