Five gameday storylines: USC vs. Wofford

jkendall@thestate.comNovember 16, 2012 

JUSTICE CUNNINGHAM, Tight end, 6-4, 264. NFL.com Grade: 63. Bottom Line: Has skills as a run blocker and pass blocker, but he has been underutilized as a receiving threat. Shows enough skills to get open and make catches. — NFL.com

GERRY MELENDEZ — gmelendez@thestate.com

SENIOR DAY

Twenty-seven players on the roster will be recognized before the game as part of Senior Day festivities. Starters Devin Taylor, Byron Jerideau, Reginald Bowens, Shaq Wilson, DeVonte Holloman, D.J. Swearinger, Akeem Auguste, T.J. Johnson, Justice Cunningham and Kenny Miles will play their final game in Williams-Brice Stadium. “It’s been a special time around here watching the team turn the corner as the years progressed,” said Johnson, the Gamecocks’ starting center. “It’s been a fun time, one that I will remember the rest of my life.” South Carolina’s seniors have won a school-record 35 games in their career.

THE DREADED TRIPLE OPTION

Whatever the opponent of the moment calls it – Wofford call it the Wingbone – the triple-option offense has been a nightmare for South Carolina. Whether it be Navy or The Citadel or the Terriers, wishbone teams have thrown scare after scare into the Gamecocks. “Run the ball, run the ball, play very sound defense, very sound special teams,” South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said of Wofford’s style. “They have always given us a very, very close game that, one of two plays, they could of beaten us here both the times prior,” Spurrier said. The Terriers are second in the FCS Southern Conference with 357.1 yards per game. They average 3.7 pass completions per game.

THE TASK AT HAND

Not only is Wofford a tough matchup on the field for South Carolina, but the Gamecocks have to make sure they don’t get caught looking ahead to next week’s game against Clemson. “We’re going to be ready to play,” Spurrier promised. “If they beat us, it wasn’t because we were screwing around all week. We’re going to have a good week of practice and we’re going to try to get this game. It is one of the most important games as far as this season. We’re out of the SEC now. So now, we’re after wins. That’s what we’re after.” The Terriers’ recent scares against South Carolina – in 2008 and 2006 – should help the coaching staff convince their team to stay focused this week. “They are a good team so we can’t peek around any corners,” Johnson said.

HOME RECORD

South Carolina has not been unbeaten at home in a season since 1987. The Gamecocks are 6-0 in Williams-Brice Stadium so far this year, having beaten East Carolina, UAB, Missouri, Georgia, Tennessee and Arkansas. They have been 7-0 four times in school history at home (1979, 1980, 1984 and 1987). The perfect record is meaningful to Spurrier because it’s one of the things that has eluded him during his tenure at the school. “Hopefully we can play one of our best games,” he said. “This is a huge game for us.” A win would do something else for Spurrier as well, tying him with Rex Enright for the school’s career record in wins with 64.

LIMPING INTO ACTION

The most important player on offense and defense will limp into this game. Quarterback Connor Shaw suffered a foot sprain against Florida and the injury was aggravated in last week’s win over Arkansas. Shaw did not practice Monday night but returned to practice field Tuesday and the rest of the week. He is 10th in the SEC in passing yards per game (178.9 per game). On the defensive side, end Jadeveon Clowney has been limping since suffering a foot injury against Kentucky on Sept. 29. Clowney estimates he is playing at 85 percent and has been limited at practice for more than a month. He is expected to have surgery in the offseason, but the injury is not getting any worse, defensive line coach Brad Lawing said.

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