Tuesday, July 26, 2016

2016 Football Preseason Preview: South Carolina

Throughout this preseason, Purple & Gold previews all of Western's 2016 football opponents. Today we look at the final regular season opponent: the South Carolina Gamecocks.

For their eleventh game of the season, the Catamounts travel to Columbia, SC to meet the SEC;s Gamecocks.

The Cats last played South Carolina in 1989.

South Carolina

When: Saturday, November 19th - Time TBA

Where: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, SC

Radio: Catamount Sports Network

TV / video: TBA

The Series: This will be the fifth meeting between the Catamounts and Gamecocks.  All four previous meetings were held in Columbia between the 2086 and 1989. All four games were won by the Gamecocks.

Head Coach:  Will Muschamp -
Will Muschamp was introduced as the University of South Carolina's 34th head football coach in a press conference held at Williams-Brice Stadium on Dec. 7, 2015. Regarded as an outstanding defensive mind, Muschamp, 44, is a 21-year coaching veteran, including 13 years in the Southeastern Conference. He has previous head coaching experience, posting a 28-21 record (.571) at the University of Florida from 2011-14.

Last year’s record (South Carolina):  3-9 overall, 2-4 home, 0-5 away (1-7 SEC)

Last Game vs. South Carolina: October 21, 1989 - South Carolina beats WCU, 24-3   -  First-year coach Dale Strahm brought the Division 1-AA, 3-2-1 Western Carolina Catamounts to Columbia to meet the 24th ranked, 4-1-1 South Carolina Gamecocks of coach Sparky Woods. No Division 1-AA team had ever won The Belt & the Catamounts hoped to make history. The Gamecocks did not succumb as RB Harold Green rushed for 150 yards with a touchdown & RB Mike Dingle scored 2 touchdowns in a 24-3 South Carolina win to retain The Belt.

Offensive starters - Returning/Lost: 4 / 7

Defensive starters - Returning/Lost: 6 / 5

Specialist - Returning/Lost: 2 / 0

2015 Gamcock Statistics:
Rushing Offense: 1856 yards
Yards per game: 155
Yards per rush: 4.4 yards
TDs rushing: 11
Passing Offense: 2495 yards or 208 yards per game
Passing Comp-Att-Int: 191-351-12
TDs passing: 17
Total Offense: 4346 yards or 362 yards per game
Passing 1st downs: 107
Rushing 1st downs: 97
Fumbles-Lost: 18 - 3
3d Down Conversions: 58 of 164 or 35%
4th Down Conversions: 11 of 20 or 55%
Field Goals - Attempts: 20 of 28
Red-Zone Scores: 31 of 36 (86%)
Red-Zone Touchdowns: 17 of 36 (47%)
Punts (No. Yards): 55 (2434 yds) Avg. per punt: 44 yds
PAT-Attempts: 25 of 25
On-Side Kicks: 0 of 1

A new era of Gasmecock football begins in 2016, as Will Muschamp takes over the head coaching reins from Steve Spurrier,  The South Carolina offense returns four starters from a squad that averaged just under 22 points a game, and returns 45 percent of their rushing yards, 93 percent of their passing yards and 27 percent of their receiving yards from last season.

The Gamecocks list 12 returning starters from last season (four on offense, six on defense and two specialists). The returning offensive starters are WR Matrick Belton, OC Alan Knott, QB Perry Orth and OT Mason Zandi. The returning defensive starters include SS Jordan Diggs, LB T.J. Holloman, DE Marquavius Lewis, CB Rico McWilliams, LB Skai Moore, and DT Taylor Stallworth. The returning specialists are PK Elliott Fry and P Sean Kelly.

Prior to last season, the Gamecocks had won 22-straight home games against non-conference opponents before dropping their final two games of the 2015 season to non-conference foes The Citadel and Clemson.

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