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September 25, 2005

Notebook: Severity of Mitchell's injury unclear

Also see:
Game story: A refreshing change
USC-Troy Postgame Audio
USC-Troy Photo Galleries
Young leads list of unofficial visitors for USC
USC dress list for the Troy game


Starting quarterback Blake Mitchell, who was enjoying a solid night with 177 yards passing, suffered a sprained let ankle late in the third quarter when he was hit from behind at the USC 20-yard line while trying to elude the Troy rush.

The severity of the injury was not known after the game. When asked on USC's post-game radio show if he would be ready for next week's game at Auburn, Mitchell responded, "I hope so."

X-rays were negative.

"Blake twisted his ankle," USC head coach Steve Spurrier said. "I don't know bad it is. He's on crutches. They say there's no fracture and that it's an ankle sprain."

Spurrier added that at this point USC does not know if Mitchell will be able to play against Auburn.

"We'll wait and see if he can play or not," Spurrier said. "Antonio will be our quarterback if Blake can't go."

FIRST-TIME STARTERS Here's how USC's first time starters on defense performed Saturday:

Jordin Lindsey - 3 tackles
Charles Silas - 0 tackles
Marvin Sapp - 5 tackles
Stoney Woodson - 3 tackles
Tremaine Tyler - 2 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 1 pass breakup.

WALKER DOES IT ALL: Freshman Dakota Walker did just about everything in his Gamecock debut Saturday. He played on most of USC's special teams and also played at defensive end. He finished with one tackle, a sack on the final play of the game.

GOING THE DISTANCE: The 100-yard kickoff return by Troy's Leodis McKelvin was the first time since October 30, 2004 that an opponent has returned a kickoff for a touchdown against USC. It was the first kickoff return for a touchdown by a Troy player since 1986.

FORTY POINTS: USC reached the 40-point plateau for the first time since Nov. 1, 2003, when the Gamecocks scored 40 points at Ole Miss.

SIDNEY RICE: Rice cemented his status as USC's "go-to" wide receiver by catching a touchdown pass for the third consecutive game. He has caught 15 passes for 235 yards in the first three games of his career. The 41-yard reception on Saturday was his longest of the season. Despite being just a redshirt freshmen, Rice served as one of USC's captains for the game.

CAREER FIRSTS: Several USC players recorded career firsts Saturday night:

Antonio Heffner - first career touchdown.
Michael Flint - first career touchdown reception.
Dakota Walker - first career sack and fumble recovery.
Chris Hampton - first fumble recovery.
Carson Askins - first career reception.
Ryan Brown - first career sack.
Mike West - first career sack.
Tim Frisby - first career reception.

FIRST HALF v. SECOND HALF: By halftime of Saturday's game, USC had rolled up 227 yards of offense. Blake Mitchell was 9-for-10 passing for 147 yards. In the second half, USC had 157 yards of offense. Mitchell was 2-for-4 for 30 yards before leaving with an injured ankle late in the third quarter. Heffner was 4-for-5 for 77 yards in the second half. Running back Mike Davis ran for 55 yards in the first half, 23 in the second.

TROY AGAINT BCS SCHOOLS: Saturday's game at Williams-Brice Stadium marked Troy's 18th game against a BCS conference team since the Trojans made the jump to Division I-A in 2001. Troy is 2-16 in those games. Seventeen of those games have been played on the road. Troy has now lost five consecutive games against SEC teams.

USC SHUTS DOWN HAMPTONTroy wide receiver Smokey Hampton has emerged as Troy's top pas-catching threat this season. He caught 10 passes against Missouri last week. But he had just two receptions for 35 yards on Saturday.

USC BEATS TROY AGAIN: USC beat Troy for the second straight year in Columbia. USC's tough 17-7 victory over Troy in 2004 at Williams-Brice had Steve Spurrier praising the Trojans this week.

MITCHELL NEAR THE TOP IN THE SEC: USC quarterback Blake Mitchell came into Saturday's game second among SEC quarterbacks with an average of 246.3 passing yards per game. He is also fourth in total offense (233.7 yards per game), fifth is passing efficiency (139.6).

THE ALABAMA GANG: Saturday's game against Troy was the second of three consecutive games against teams from the Yellowhammer State. USC visits Auburn next Saturday. It is the first time since 1989 that USC has played three consecutive games against opponents from the same state.

SPURRIER BEATS BLAKENEY AGAIN: Prior to Saturday night, the last time Spurrier and Troy head coach Larry Blakeney met on a football field was in 1990 when Spurrier was in his first season at Florida and Blakeney was an assistant at Auburn. Florida won the game, 48-7.

SOUTH CAROLINA CONNECTIONS: Derick Pendergrass, a junior defensive back for Troy, is from Manning, S.C. He attended Georgia Military College before enrolling at Troy. Troy wide receiver A.J. Jones is from Greenwood, S.C. and played at Livingstone College before transferring to Troy. Mark Fleetwood, a kicker and punter for USC from 1979-1983, is the offensive coordinator for Troy. After graduating from USC, Fleetwood served as a graduate assistant on the 1984 USC "Black Magic" team. Fleetwood was assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach at The Citadel from 2001-2002 before assuming his present position at Troy in 2003.

LOSING STREAK ENDS: Saturday's victory prevented USC from losing three games in a row for the first time since the final four games of the 2003 regular season. Steve Spurrier has not lost three games in a row since Florida lost to Florida State, Alabama (SEC Championship game), and Michigan State (Citrus Bowl) to close out the 1999 season. USC has not started a season worse than 2-2 since the 0-11 year in 1999. Since 2000, USC is 18-6 in the first four games of the season.

USC BEATS A NON-BCS SCHOOL AGAIN: USC has regularly beaten non-BCS conference schools. USC has now won 11 straight games against teams from conferences that are not part of the BCS. The last such loss was a 21-3 defeat to East Carolina in 1999.

OFFENSVE STARTERS: QB Blake Mitchell; RB Mike Davis; FB Daccus Turman; WR Sidney Rice; WR Kenny McKinley; WR Syvelle Newton; LT Jabari Levey; LG William Brown; C Chris White; RG James Thompson; RT Na'Shan Goddard.


DEFENSIVE STARTERS: DE Jordin Lindsey; DT Chris Tucker; DT Stanley Doughty; DE Charles Silas; OLB Marvin Sapp; MLB Ricardo Hurley; OLB Mike West; ROV Ko Simpson; CB Tremaine Tyler; CB Stoney Woodson; FS Chris Hampton.

TURNING THE FIELD AROUND: Due primarily to Troy's five turnovers and a long kickoff return by Carlos Thomas, USC's average starting field position was its own 33-yard line. Three drives started at the Troy 14, 21, and 11. Troy started only one drive inside USC territory and that possession ended with a fumble.

SEC SCHEDULE/RESULTS

Alabama 24, Arkansas 13
Auburn 37, Western Kentucky 14
Florida 49, Kentucky 28
Wyoming 24, Ole Miss 14
Vanderbilt 37, Richmond 13
Georgia 23, Mississippi State 10
Tennessee at LSU (Mon. 9/26)(ESPN2)

OPEN DATE: None.

Also see:
Game story: A refreshing change
USC-Troy Postgame Audio
USC-Troy Photo Galleries
Young leads list of unofficial visitors for USC
USC dress list for the Troy game


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