In Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday night against Chattanooga, a total of 20 players will walk in senior day festivities. The makeup of the group is in itself rather remarkable, though perhaps not so much given all the program has been through.
Share Share South Carolina vs. Chattanooga: Keys and a pick tweet share Reddit Pocket Flipboard Email Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports The South Carolina Gamecocks enter their Senior Night contest against the Chattanooga Mocs a little bit worse for the wear, having suffered more than their share of injuries and still smarting after squandering a big lead to Florida. Nonetheless, this matchup against a lower-division foe should be an opportunity for the Gamecocks to bounce back and get some more pep in their step before the big game next weekend — and will hopefully punch South Carolinas ticket to a bowl.
Looking back at it, its kind of crazy, senior guard Zack Bailey said. Just coming in and we had a bunch of guys. A lot of them transferred out or had issues going on at home for whatever reason. So looking at it now, just a small group, its kind of amazing that were here.
I love it and I love the close knit that we have and just how weve made this team progress to come from 3-9.
Stay healthy. This is technically a key for every game that goes unsaid, but really, the Gamecocks cant afford more injuries at this point in the season. I know some banged up players like TySon Williams and Aaron Sterling are making a possible return to action tonight, but if they arent 100 percent, Id be just fine with holding them out. This needs to be a get-in-get-out-with-the-win kind of game for South Carolina.
Bailey is one of those true seniors, along with Rashad Fenton, Blake Camper and Christian Pellage, who has not played in a game since 2015.
Flush Florida. God knows the result of that game has still been driving me crazy off and on throughout this week, but the Gamecocks need to put that mess behind them. Get off to a good start, get some positive energy going, and dont leave any room for doubt in this one. Lets have an encore performance of the Coastal Carolina game, please.
Overall, nine scholarship players from that class remain. Bailey and Camper were both forced into action, getting starts in 2015. Fenton and Pellage each had roles as true freshmen.
There was a special message for the team about that group of 20, as they head into the Chattanooga game.
Its really just about our seniors and what they have done for this program, quarterback Jake Bentley said. Theyve been through a lot since theyve been here. Really just battled and optimized what we want as a culture here.
Coach Muschamp challenged everyone, from the players, coaches, support staff to put all their effort in for the seniors to make this week special for them.
Year 1 was the programs lowest point since Lou Holtzs 0-11 debut. They watched the Steve Spurrier era end with a thud, the short-lived Shawn Elliott tenure and the arrival of Muschamp, a coach with plenty of questions.
They helped, each in their own way, South Carolina go from three wins to six, and then to nine. This year hasnt been what was projected, but the team is on course for at least 7-5, a taste of stability for a program that seemed to have almost none when they arrived.
They were important to what Muschamp was aiming to build, and he sees Saturday as a moment to share with them.
Appreciate them, Muschamp said. A small gesture of thank you for what theyve done. Its certainly not goodbye.
Mean an awful lot, especially in a coaching change, transition and helping build a foundation of the program moving forward.
In terms of moving forward, the small size of the group means USC should have a fair amount coming back.
Of the 20 listed seniors, eight are currently starting. Two are hoping to come back next year after being injured, and another is deciding between a sixth season and a shot at the NFL.
Theres the risk of a junior or two making the jump, perhaps Javon Kinlaw, Bryan Edwards or maybe Jake Bentley if he gets really good draft feedback. But most likely, this team will return a lot of pieces going into next season.
Some of them will soon enough take on the mantle of seniors, leaders and stewards of the program, and in doing that, theyll likely take a little something from the small group set to depart.
I hope to leave my legacy, what Ive done here, I hope to leave that to the young guys, Bailey said. For them to build off of what Ive done and help them progress, so that when I progress, they can step into that next role.
Bryson Allen- Williams, Ben Asbury, Jacob August, Zack Bailey, Blake Camper, K.C. Crosby, Dennis Daley, Javion Duncan, Rashad Fenton, Danny Gordon, J.T. Ibe, Steven Montac, Keisean Nixon, Christian Pellage, Deebo Samuel, Michael Scarnecchia, Jason Senn, Donell Stanley, Eldridge Thompson and Malik Young.
Edit Slot to 247Sports Home Slot to South Carolina Gamecocks Newsletter Slot to South Carolina Links South Carolina and Chattanooga are getting set for their first ever meeting between the two schools. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. on the SEC Alternate Channel as the Mocs (6-4, 4-4) are closing out their season while the Gamecocks (5-4, 4-4) are trying to clinch a spot in the bowl season.
A win on Saturday would give South Carolina six wins and the team would be bowl eligible for the 14th time in the last 15 seasons. The last time that the Gamecocks didn’t qualify for a bowl was 2015, the last year under head coach Steve Spurrier.
What a win would also do is help Will Muschamp tie a mark that is currently held by Spurrier. In his first three seasons as a head coach, Spurrier won 21 games, which is the most to begin a coaching career in program history. Muschamp would tie that mark and have three chances – Clemson, Akron and the bowl game – to hold the school record outright.
Quarterback Jake Bentley, in his last game out, surpassed former South Carolina great Connor Shaw on the career passing yards chart. Bentley moved into fourth place with 6,119 yards passing so far in his career. Shaw, during his four seasons, threw for 6,074 yards. Bentley ranks behind Todd Ellis, Steve Taneyhill and Stephen Garcia (7,597 yards). Third place seems to be out of reach this season for Bentley.
One of his receivers, Bryan Edwards, could move a bit up the career charts with a touchdown catch on Saturday. If he does have a touchdown catch, Edwards would be tied for ninth all-time for receiving touchdowns (16). He’d also move into sole possession of seventh place in career receptions, where he’s currently tied with Fred Ziegler at 146. Edwards also has 34 consecutive games with a reception, which is tied for third all-time with Sterling Sharpe and Jermale Kelly. He would be one behind Alshon Jeffery (36) and eight behind Kenny McKinley (43) for the all-time mark.
Wait, no SEC game this week? You mean the stretch of eight straight conference games is over? Well then, time for some cupcake late November action. Last week South Carolina suffered one of its most disappointing losses in recent memory and has Chattanooga to take the anger out on. This is a punching bag matchup and one the home team shouldn’t have an issue with.
I expect the Gamecocks to be pedal to the metal on offense for two and a half quarters before giving way to some backup quarterbacks and second-unit offense. The Mocs offense has scored a combined 19 points in its last two games. I expect even a banged up Carolina defense to do some good things, maybe even force a turnover or two. USC gets bowl eligible for the third year in a row under Will Muschamp. FINAL: Carolina 49 – Chattanooga 17
South Carolina picks up where they started against Florida with an opening drive on offense. They win the coin toss for the first time in a while and elect to receive. Jake Bentley and the offense score early and often, which allowed for at least one quarterback to come off the bench for action. Michael Scarnecchia picks up where he left off against Missouri and keeps the offensive humming along just fine. Somebody gets a defensive touchdown for the Gamecokcs, not quite sure who it’s going to be or how it will come, but someone will score. The Gamecocks head into Clemson on the right foot. FINAL: Carolina 51 – Chattanooga 14
South Carolina should make this a fairly comfortable game in the early going and be able to give some young players action and experience for the future. Chattanooga’s strength comes along the defensive line but the Gamecocks’ strength is the offensive line, so I don’t expect the Mocs’ group to be a consistent factor over the course of the game. Zack Bailey and the group of upperclassmen should be able to control the front to give an offense that’s been good overall the last several weeks plenty of opportunity to score.
Chattanooga hasn’t been the most offensive team this year and have only scored 19 points in total the last two games. Four of the last six games, they haven’t scored more than twice. Even though the defense is just a shell of itself from the opening game roster for the Gamecocks, the team should be good enough to keep their visitors from scoring too much. Of course, this is Chattanooga’s final game of the season with their playoffs hopes gone. They’ll put everything they’ve got into this one, and I do think you’ll see some spurts of good play. FINAL: Carolina 45 – Chattanooga 16
John Whittle: I would love to see Syracuse pull the upset, but I don’t believe it’s going to happen. It would take one of those special performances from Eric Dungey, but that’s not something I’m going to completely rule out. FINAL: Notre Dame 35 – Syracuse 32
John Whittle: Vegas has set the over/under at 71 points and I lean towards the under in this one, primarily because I think West Virginia’s defense is OK. It’s another opportunity for Will Grier to bolster his Heisman campaign against a team in the bottom half of a league not known for its ability to defend the pass. FINAL: West Virginia 40 – Oklahoma State 27
John Del Bianco: The Gamecocks have beaten both of these teams at home. Missouri relies on its run game and shots downfield with quarterback Drew Lock. Tennessee used the short passing game to perfection against Carolina a few weeks back to make it a close game. Both of these two teams have something going of late Tennessee beat Kentucky last week and Missouri is coming off wins over Florida and Vanderbilt. I’m going to go with the Tigers here. I think Drew Lock gets it done on the road. FINAL: Missouri 35 – Tennessee 28
John Whittle: We’ve seen both teams play, and both teams are playing their best football of the season right now. The Tigers are playing a little bit better defensively than they were early in the year. Tennessee has a little bit more talent, and they’re getting healthier. I’m leaning towards the Vols, especially since they’re at home. FINAL: Tennessee 27 – Missouri 23