Senior defensive back Chris Culliver made the most of his return and his returns Saturday.
Culliver and senior offensive tackle Jarriel King rejoined South Carolina’s roster after missing the season-opener due to NCAA eligibility issues, and both made an impact in the No. 24 Gamecocks’ 17-6 win against No. 22 Georgia.
Culliver, who started at cornerback, entered the game as South Carolina’s all-time leader in kickoff return yardage, and he moved into fourth place in SEC history by returning three kicks for 69 yards against the Bulldogs. He has 2,279 career kickoff return yards.
Culliver’s effort was part of redeeming special teams effort by the Gamecocks, who last year gave up 255 return yards to Georgia, including a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. The Bulldogs had 53 total returns yards Saturday.
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“Special teams guys were super, contained their return guys,” coach Steve Spurrier said. “Spencer Lanning had another great game.”
Lanning outperformed Georgia’s celebrated duo of Blair Walsh and Drew Butler by hitting one field goal and averaging 50 yards on three punts. Twice in the fourth quarter, Lanning’s punts left the Bulldogs starting at their own 10-yard line.
“We have been preaching special teams since summer,” said cornerback and punt returner Stephon Gilmore, who had three punt returns for 24 yards. “Last year, we weren’t too good on special teams, but I think we are getting better every game and getting better every practice. I think we’ll be better next time.”
King did not start Saturday, but spelled Kyle Nunn at left tackle in the first half.
... Alshon Jeffery exceeded 100 yards receiving for the second consecutive game. He had seven catches for 103 yards.
… South Carolina converted 9-of-14 third downs. “For us, that is real good,” Spurrier said.
… Freshman Ace Sanders didn’t get a rush or a catch, but Spurrier said that was mostly a reflection of the game plan. “He’ll be there next week,” Spurrier said.
… Spurrier praised the downfield blocking of wide receiver Tori Gurley.