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    Football Preview: Southern Miss at South Carolina

    S. MISS at S. CAROLINA
    Sept. 2 - 7:30 p.m. ET
    Columbia, S.C.
    Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250)

    Overall: 0-0
    LIVE TV: ESPN
    [Rece Davis, play-by-play; Craig James, analyst; Jesse Palmer, analyst; Jenn Brown, sidelines]
    Overall: 0-0
    SEC: 0-0



    THE COACHES

    Larry Fedora is in his third season at Southern Miss and overall with a record of 14-12 (.538). The Golden Eagles' offensive coordinator is Blake Anderson and the defensive coordinator is Todd Bradford.

    Steve Spurrier is in his sixth season at South Carolina with a record of 35-28 (.556) and in his 26th season overall with a record of 224-109-2 (.672). Spurrier serves as the Gamecocks' offensive coordinator and the defensive coordinator is Lorenzo Ward.

    WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN SOUTHERN MISS HAS THE BALL

    Austin Davis, a junior from Meridian, Miss., returns as the expected starter for the Golden Eagles after missing the second half of the 2009 with a foot injury. In his five starts, Davis completed 69 percent of his passing attempts (108-of-156) for 1,165 yards and 10 touchdowns to go along with only two interceptions. DeAndre Brown leapt back into the spotlight by leading the team in receptions and yardage for the second consecutive year. Brown caught 47 passes for 785 yards and nine touchdowns in 2009 and is expected to eclipse these numbers as he is now a veteran on the team.

    The Carolina defense, the team's strong suit over the past few seasons with back-to-back top-15 national rankings in total defense, figures to be very strong again in 2010. While seven of the 11 starters return, the Gamecocks have a couple huge holes to fill, most notably the shoes of the unit's top playmaker, All-American Eric Norwood. Cliff Matthews has accounted for 105 career tackles including 17.5 tackles for loss and 10.0 sacks. He will man one end of the line with sophomore Devin Taylor expected to start on the opposite side. Junior Shaq Wilson, the team's leading tackler a year ago, made the transition to the "Will" position in the spring after playing the "Mike" last season.

    WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN SOUTH CAROLINA HAS THE BALL

    Under the tutelage of Deke Adams, the defensive line accounted for 56 percent (50-of-88.5) of the team's total tackles for loss. They also improved from No. 93 in total sacks in 2008 to No. 18 a year ago in the same category. Returning for Southern Miss will be all three starting linebackers who combined for 317 tackles and were the top three tacklers on the team. Korey Williams (121 total tackles) returns as the defensive commander in the middle. Playing weak side, Ronnie Thornton (114 total tackles) returns while speedster Martez Smith (82 total tackles) is back at strong side.

    Stephen Garcia is 8-8 in his career as a starter and has passed for 3,694 yards and 23 touchdowns in his career while completing 55 percent of his passes. Kenny Miles is the team's top returning rusher. He carried 117 times for 626 yards in 2009 as a redshirt freshman, an average of 5.4 yards per carry. Alshon Jeffery was on everyone's Freshman All-America list last fall after leading the team with 46 catches for 763 yards and six touchdowns. Overall, the Gamecocks return 93 percent of their rushing yards, 99 percent of their passing yards and 83 percent of their receiving yards from a year ago.

    SPECIAL TEAMS

    Freshman sensation Tracy Lampley exploded onto the national scene as he became the primary handler of the punt return and kick return duties. The 5-foot-9 freshman handled the job as well as anyone in the country as he finished the season No. 6 nationally in punt return yardage. He also added a 50-yard return for a score against Memphis. At kickoff returns, Lampley and departed senior Freddie Parham led the way and each had one touchdown return on the year. Lampley finished No. 15 nationally as a kick returner.

    Spencer Lanning, who has handled the punting chores in each of the past two seasons, took on the added responsibility of the placekicking duties and performed admirably in his first tour of duty. He connected on 17-of-20 field goals on the season, an 85 percent success rate, with a long of 47 yards. He also converted 28-of-29 extra points and led the team with 79 points overall. Chris Culliver is the school's all-time leader in kickoff returns (94) and in kickoff return yardage (2,215), which also ranks fifth all-time in the SEC.

    SERIES/GAME NOTES
    Record: First Meeting

    This will be the first meeting between the two schools. The Gamecocks lost just 12 letterwinners off last year's 7-6 squad, of which only seven saw significant playing time, giving head coach Steve Spurrier one of his more experienced squads as he begins his sixth season in Columbia. The Carolina offense officially returns eight starters, but can boast as many as 13 players that started five or more games during the 2009 campaign.