Does anyone ever play defense anymore? When a team like Vanderbilt scores 15 unanswered points in the final quarter and puts a scare in South Carolina, does that mean the SEC is growing soft or the league from top to bottom is that competitive?
I would like it is the latter, but in reality, the 35-25 game in Columbia was a lot closer than I am sure many of us thought it would be.
Following a 41-30 loss at the hands of Georgia, it looked as if the Gamecocks might give the game away to the Commodores. But Steve Spurrier, Mike Davis and Connor Shaw righted the ship en route to an SEC victory, which keeps them in the hunt to play in the SEC title game. Vanderbilt and their head coach James Franklin gave South Carolina all they could handle.
Here is the good, the bad and the ugly from Saturday’s game.
Playing after a loss, South Carolina won and jumped back into the SEC title contention. According to ESPN.com, the Gamecocks (2-1, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) scored on their first-four possessions as Connor Shaw threw for three touchdowns and Jadeveon Clowney forced a third-quarter fumble Saturday night.
Shaw was the catalyst in this game, throwing for 284 yards and three scores and then adding 84 yards of his own on the ground to help the Gamecocks hold on for the win.
Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews, was the SEC leader in completions and receiving yards, and had his third 100-yard game of the season with eight catches for 106 yards.
Falling behind early did Vanderbilt in. Much like the Cal/Ohio State game, the Gamecocks jumped out early and Vanderbilt could never recover.
Jadeveon Clowney and the Gamecocks’ defense created pressure on the offense most of the night. Vanderbilt had just four first downs and 95 yards in the first 30 minutes of the contest.
Jadeveon Clowney was able to enforce his own will in the game, being told by the coaching staff that he could switch sides along the line to get a better read on the offense and pressure the quarterback and make plays. It worked and Clowney played much better against Vandy than he did against the Bulldogs last week.
The Commodores scored 15 points in the fourth quarter, all uncontested. Austyn Carta-Samuels was a one-man wrecking crew of sorts, scoring on a running play and then a pass play. The Gamecocks looked out of sorts, almost to the point where they were going to give this one away.
Wesley Tate ran for 71 yards but the Vandy running game only had 3.7 yards a carry.
South Carolina will need to work on its punting game, as it had three punts for a paultry 29.3 yards, which helped with field position for Vanderbilt.