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GAME 9: Vols Seek Eighth Straight Win Over Gamecocks in Columbia
TENNESSEE-SOUTH CAROLINA SERIES HISTORY & NOTES
Tennessee leads the all-time series with the Gamecocks 21-3-2 dating to 1903 and the Vols hold an 8-2-2 advantage in Columbia. Phillip Fulmer is 14-1 vs. South Carolina in his tenure at Tennessee. The Vols have won every contest between the two schools with the exception of two since the Gamecocks joined the conference in 1992. Tennessee won the 2007 contest 27-24 in overtime, and South Carolina's last win came in Knoxville during the 2005 season.
Five current Vols hail from the state of South Carolina: Robert Ayers (Clio), Jake Brown (Conway), William Brimfield (Norway), DeAngelo Willingham (Saint Matthews) and Justin Wright (Saint Stephens). Ayers has started every game for the Vols at defensive end this season and leads the team in tackles for loss with nine. Willingham has started all seven games in the secondary and recorded three interceptions and 26 tackles.
South Carolina cornerbacks coach Shane Beamer was a graduate assistant under Phillip Fulmer from 2001-03.
FULMER vs SPURRIER: VOL. XIV
Saturday's meeting marks the 14th battle between the two active coaches with the most wins in the SEC. The two titans of coaching have forged quite a path in the brutal conference, combining to win eight SEC Championships and two National Championships.
The first 10 SEC Championship Games featured either a Fulmer- or Spurrier-led team. From 1995-98 the two coaches combined to lead their teams to a record of 88-11 (.889), win four SEC Championships and two National Championships (Florida in 1996 and Tennessee in 1998).
For his career, Fulmer is 5-8 against Spurrier, but the Vols have won four of their last five against the Johnson City, Tenn., native.
AYERS HITTING STRIDE AS HOME-STATE GAMECOCKS LOOM
Senior defensive end Robert Ayers has come on strong for the UT defense in the second half of the season. He was named a permanent team captain before the Mississippi State game and responded with his first sack of the season. He logged a career-high nine tackles against Georgia, including a career-high 3.5 TFL. That marked the most TFL in a single-game since current San Francisco 49ers linebacker Parys Haralson recorded four against Kentucky in 2005. Ayers also nabbed his first career interception at Georgia, stopping a Bulldogs drive in the red zone.
Ayers led the Vols last season with 12 TFL, and his nine TFL this year lead the team and give him 25 for his career for a net loss of 100 yards. His nine TFL thus far this season is just five shy of the school record for single-season TFL (not including sacks). His 25 career TFL (sacks not included) is tied for third in school history.
VOLS TIED FOR THIRD NATIONALLY WITH 14 INTERCEPTIONS
Through nine weeks of NCAA play, Tennessee ranks tied for third nationally among FBS teams and first in the SEC with 14 interceptions. The Vols are averaging 1.75 interceptions per game and an average of 22.7 yards per return.
Seven different Vols have recorded picks thus far, but sophomore safety Eric Berry and senior cornerback DeAngelo Willingham lead the way with five and three interceptions, respectively.
THREE MEMORABLE VOL PERFORMANCES vs. SOUTH CAROLINA
In Tennessee's 26 previous clashes with South Carolina, there have been many memorable individual Vol performances. Here are three of note:
HAD IT DOWN TO A "TEE": Tee Martin, 1998
Tee Martin completed 23-of-24 passes for 315 yards and four touchdowns as the Vols defeated South Carolina 49-14 in Columbia on Oct. 31, 1998. In the process, Martin set an NCAA season record with 24 consecutive pass completions (one versus Alabama the game before and 23 versus South Carolina) and an NCAA single-game record with 23 straight. Both marks still stand, as do the SEC records in the same categories. Tennessee set an NCAA team completion record percentage mark thanks to its combined 24-of-25 passing (96.0 percent) performance.
ALBERT GOT ANGRY : Albert Haynesworth, 2001
Albert Haynesworth made his case for being a first-round draft pick with this dominant performance against the Gamecocks in 2001. Haynesworth finished the game with seven tackles, including three for lost yardage, a pass deflection and three quarterback hurries. His biggest play of the game came when he stopped South Carolina's Andrew Pinnock for no gain at the UT 1 yard line on third-and-goal with 13:21 remaining. After this stand, the Vols drove 70 yards in 12 plays for the deciding touchdown in a 17-10 win.
A MAJOR MASHING: TENNESSEE DEFENSE, 1971
The Vols defense put on a show against South Carolina in a 35-6 victory in November 1971. Bobby Majors had two interceptions, his second and third of the season, that set up two more touchdowns requiring only short drives. Then interception returns of 72 yards by Eddie Brown and 83 yards by Danny Jeffries provided a pair of clinching TDs in the final three minutes of the game.
STEPHENS APPROACHING ATTEMPTS WITHOUT AN INTERCEPTION RECORD
Sophomore quarterback Nick Stephens has thrown 97 passes this season without landing one in the hands of an opponent. The Tennessee record for consecutive attempts without an interception is 143, set by Casey Clausen during the 2003 season. The Flower Mound, Texas, native is just four starts into his collegiate career and could find himself in the Tennessee record books with just 46 more attempts without an interception.
One impressive thing about Stephen's ability to avoid picks is the number of deep balls he throws. Through his first four starts, Twenty-three of his 50 completions have come for more than 10 yards.
VOLUNTEERS APPROACHING 775th ALL-TIME VICTORY
One of the winningest college football teams in America, Tennessee is just one win shy of notching its 775th all-time victory.
Since the program's inception in 1891, UT has recorded 774 total victories. The Volunteers will become the ninth team ever (and second SEC team) to reach the 775-win milestone.
VOLS LOOK FOR FOURTH STRAIGHT GAME WITHOUT A TURNOVER
Tennessee has taken one of the first steps in improving offensive production recently as it has not had a turnover since the third quarter of the Northern Illinois game on Oct. 4. Nick Stephens is yet to throw an interception in his four starts this season and the players he's giving the ball to have not lost a fumble in more than three full games. In all, the Vols have rushed 91 times and passed 82 times without a turnover.
DEFENSE AMONG NATIONS BEST STATISTICALLY
Through eight games, the Tennessee defense ranks among the nation's best in several statistical categories. The Vols are in the top 30 nationally in five categories.
|Stat Category ||NCAA Rank ||SEC Rank|
|Rushing Defense ||23rd ||4th|
|Passing Defense ||20th ||5th|
|Total Defense ||14th ||3rd|
|Scoring Defense ||22nd ||6th|
|Passing Effic. Defense ||17th|| 5th|