November 10, 2007

Final News and Notes: USC-Florida

FINAL NEWS AND NOTES: WILLIAMS-BRICE EXPANSION PROJECT PROGRESSING:

A couple of months ago, the University of South Carolina's Board of Trustees approved spending the sum of $495,000 for a feasibility study on the possible expansion of Williams-Brice Stadium. Friday, the Board unanimously approved the scope of the study and the key issues that should be considered. These issues include:

-- Survey of all existing facilities;
-- Review of existing utilities, including electrical, water, sewer and heating & air conditioning.
-- Commercial signage at the stadium;
-- Restroom facilities;
-- The maintenance required for the expanded areas;
-- Market Analysis to forecast the demand for additional seating, particularly the club seating.

The next step is to hire the firm that will research and draft the feasibility study. Rick Kelley, the Chief Financial Officer for USC, predicted it should take about 45 days to find the best firm to complete the feasibility study. Once the firm is hired, it should take 90 to 120 days to complete the study, Kelley, since the structure involved is significant.

"It's a big stadium and there's a lot of stuff we have to look at," Kelley said.

WHY HAS LECORN BEEN SUCCESSFUL?: Steve Spurrier explained this week why freshman wide receiver Dion Lecorn has managed to make a significant contribution this season while most of the other receivers in USC's 2007 signing class have struggled. He cited a number of reasons, including coachability, the fact he catches the ball when it's thrown to him and he's an excellent downfield blocker.

Lecorn was asked the same question later in the week. He believes the complexity of Spurrier's system keeps some receivers on the sidelines for the first year.

"It is pretty complicated," Lecorn said. "At first, it's hard to go out there at full speed because you don't know where you need to be. It's all based on timing and being at a certain spot at a certain time. It takes a lot of practice to get it down. You have to be able to read coverages and know what route to run with each coverage. I'm still learning. It's like studying for school."

Lecorn has, apparently, studied hard. He enters Saturday's game with 19 receptions for 209 yards and two touchdowns. Eleven of his receptions have come in the last two games. Lecorn had a career-high eight receptions against Arkansas last week.

BOWL SCENARIOS: Nine SEC teams have obtained bowl eligibility with at least six wins. The conference has eight bowl tie-ins: Liberty, Independence, Music City, Chick-fil-A, Outback, Cotton, Capital One and BCS. Therefore, it will likely take seven wins for a conference team to earn a bowl berth. Here's where USC lines up:

6 wins: Independence or no bowl;
7 wins: Music City or Liberty;
8 Wins: Music City, Chick-fil-A or Outback.

Is USC on the Chick-fil-A Bowl's radar screen? Apparently not. Bowl Chairman Leeman Bennett's Team Selection Blog identifies four SEC teams that the bowl game is focusing on - Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Kentucky. However, Chick-fil-A Bowl representatives are scheduled to attend Saturday's USC-Florida game. Certainly, a USC victory will improve its chances of playing on New Years Eve in Atlanta.

: Here's where the major college football web sites project USC will be headed this holiday season:

CBS Sportsline: Liberty Bowl v. East Carolina;
CNNSI: Independence Bowl v. Oklahoma State
College Football News: Independence Bowl v. Kansas State
ESPN.com: Mark Schlabach - Independence Bowl v. Texas A&M; Ivan Maisel - No Bowl for USC.
MSNBC: Liberty Bowl v. East Carolina.

DUNLAP'S FIRST SEASON: Former Fort Dorchester High School defensive end Carlos Dunlap is going through his first season of major college football with Florida. UF head coach Urban Meyer said this week he is pleased with the progress Dunlap has made this season, although he needs to work on his technique.

"He was a guy that really didn't go that hard (in practice), but he's getting much better," Meyer said. "He's going to have a great career."

Dunlap has been credited with four tackles, one QB hurry, one forced fumble and one blocked kick.

MCKINLEY MOVING HIGHER: Kenny McKinley followed up one of the best performances of his career (14 receptions for 151 yards against Tennessee) with another solid outing at Arkansas. He made seven receptions for 72 yards in Fayetteville. He leads USC with 62 receptions for 748 yards and seven touchdowns this season. He is currently seventh on USC's all-time receptions list with 138, four behind former teammate Sidney Rice. Here are the top seven receivers in USC history:

1. Sterling Sharpe - 169
2. Zola Davis - 164
3. Robert Brooks - 156
4. Jermale Kelly - 153
5. Fred Ziegler - 146
6. Sidney Rice - 142
7. KENNY MCKINLEY - 138

McKinley is seventh all-time in receiving yards (1,919), 144 yards behind Philip Logan. He has also caught a pass in 31 consecutive games, the 10th longest current streak in the nation and tying Ryan Brewer for the third longest stretch in school history.

SOPHOMORES STILL SUPER TACKLERS: The top four tacklers for USC are all sophomores, led by Emanuel Cook (76) and Eric Norwood (56). The first non-sophomore to appear on the tackle list is junior linebacker Marvin Sapp with 51 tackles. Here are top 10 tacklers for USC after nine games:

Emanuel Cook - 76
Eric Norwood - 56
Darian Stewart - 55
Rodney Paulk - 54
Marvin Sapp - 51
Captain Munnerlyn - 47
Casper Brinkley - 46
Ladi Ajiboye - 35
Chris Hampton - 32
Cody Wells - 25.

The top four sophomores account for 34.2 percent of USC's tackles this season. Better yet, seven of USC's top 10 tacklers after 10 games will return to the Gamecocks next season. The only players into the Top 10 set to depart are DE Casper Brinkley, CB Chris Hampton and LB Cody Wells.

MITCHELL STARTS FOR FIFTH TIME: Blake Mitchell will make his fifth start of the season Saturday night against Florida He earned the starting nod after an impressive second half against Tennessee and a respectable performance last week in the loss to Arkansas. Here's Mitchell's game-by-game statistics for this season.


Date Opponent A-C-I Yards TD

9/8 at Georgia 31-20-0 174 0
9/15 S.C. STATE 21-14-3 147 3
9/22 at LSU 16-7-1 70 0
10/20 VANDERBILT 18-9-1 102 0
10/27 at Tennessee 45-31-1 290 1
11/4 at Arkansas 51-27-0 364 2
TOTALS. . . . . . . . . 182-108-6 1,147 6 (116.56 Rating)

Mitchell is fifth on USC's all-time passing yardage list with 5,392 yards, tied for fourth in TD passes with 34 and fourth in pass completions (438). He has a 13-8 record as a starter. He's completing 63.1 percent (197 of 312) of his passes as a starter in games won by USC, and 58.2 percent (152 of 261) of his passes in losses.

WEATHER FORECAST: Weather forecasts for the Columbia area call for clear conditions and temperatures around 50 degrees at the 7:45 p.m. ET kickoff for Saturday's game. Temperatures are expected to fall into the middle 40's by the time the contest concludes around 11 p.m. ET.

SEC SCHEDULE (11/3) The USC-Florida game is one of five conference matchups set for Nov. 10. Here's the entire SEC schedule:

Alabama at Mississippi State - 12:30 p.m. (LFS)
Arkansas at Tennessee - 12:30 p.m. (LFS)
Kentucky at Vanderbilt - 2 p.m.
Auburn at Georgia - 3:30 p.m. (CBS)
Louisiana Tech at LSU - 8 p.m.

NEXT WEEK (11/18): USC enjoys its only off week of the season next week. Four conference matchups highlight the schedule: Mississippi State at Arkansas, Kentucky at Georgia, LSU at Ole Miss and Vanderbilt sat Tennessee. Nonconference contests include Louisiana-Monroe at Alabama and Florida Atlantic at Florida.

MISCELLANEOUS: Florida leads the all-series, 20-4-3, against USC. . .USC is 10th in the nation in pass efficiency defense. . .USC is 31-for-37 in the red zone this season with 22 touchdowns and nine field goals. . .The loss to Arkansas last week gave USC an all-time record of 521-521-44. . .Opponents have converted only 32 percent (47 of 149) of third downs this year. . .Steve Spurrier is 21-14 in three seasons as USC head coach. . .USC's 12 opponents in 2007 have a combined record of 65-43 this season (.602). . .USC is 54-40 since the start of the 2000 season. The 54 wins are 12 more than its total of 41 victories in the entire decade of the 1990's. . .Cory Boyd and Mike Davis have combined for 3,784 rushing yards. . .Boyd leads USC with 1,098 all-purpose yards, an average of 109.8 yards per game. . .UF is one of only two schools in the nation (Houston is the other) to have rushed for a touchdown and passed for a touchdown in every game this season. . .QB Tim Tebow is UF's career active rushing leader with 1,067 yards. That's a school record for rushing yards by a quarterback. . .Percy Harvin has 1,156 all-purpose yards this season. . .Since 1990, Florida is 138-5 when holding opponents to 21 points or less. . .Former USC defensive coordinator Charlie Strong still holds that same position at Florida.



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