Report Card: Vanderbilt vs. South Carolina

Vanderbilt led 7-0 but eventually fell to South Carolina, 21-7. analyzes every element of the Commodores' performance and assigns a grade to each area.



South Carolina

Vandy picked up a decent 95 yards passing in the first half but only managed 47 in the second half. Larry Smith finished the game with 13 of 31 completions for 142 yards, no interceptions and no touchdowns. That's 18 plays out of 61 total plays where Vanderbilt gained absolutely no yardage. Jonathan Krause was about the only bright spot in the second half as he caught 3 passes for 25 yards. Brandon Barden had a good game, catching 3 passes for 47 yards. John Cole had an excellent 35-yard catch from Smith that put Vandy in position for their only score. Vandy's offensive line allowed just 2 sacks but Smith was running for his life much of the game.
Not too bad. On average South Carolina allows about 101 yards and the Commodores picked up 108. However, like the passing game, the rushing game disappeared after halftime. The Commodores only gained about 17 yards rushing in the second half and virtually abandoned the run in the fourth quarter. Warren Norman had a great run on the first play of the game for 40 yards. Other than that 40 yarder, nothing else went for more than 11 yards all night. Larry Smith ran 15 times for 48 yards. Norman and Zac Stacy combined for 12 rushes. Stacy ran for 17 yards.
Yes, they gave up 355 yards to Garcia but the team overall did a good job of keeping them out of the end zone. The worst breakdown was the long pass to Alshon Jeffery late in the fourth quarter. Casey Hayward picked off his fifth pass of the season which puts in a tie for first place in the FBS. Chris Marve and Kenny Ladler each broke up passes. Steven Clarke had an excellent game picking up a sack and a quarterback hurry. Rob Lohr, Tim Fugger and Sean Richardson had sacks of Garcia and Walker May and Eddie Foster also had hurries.
The Commodores virtually shut down the Gamecock's running game in the first half limiting them to just 10 yards. Kenny Miles, who gained 102 yards a year ago in Columbia, gained only 25 yards on 11 carries but Brian Maddox picked up his slack and gained 146 including a 2-yard scoring run in the third quarter to put the 'Cocks up for good. South Carolina finished with 129 yards rushing for the game. Sean Richardson and Casey Hayward combined for 20 tackles, 16 of them solos. The Commodores had a swarming defensive strategy, especially in the first half, and came up with 7 tackles for losses. The ole ball coach went with a hurry up offense in the second half which made it difficult for the Vandy defensive staff to get defensive signals into the game in time. They need to get this figured out quick because on Saturday at Arkansas you can be assured that the Razorbacks will try the same thing... for the entire game.
Other than the botched fake punt this was the shining star of Vanderbilt's performance against the Gamecocks. Caldwell said after the game that the fake had been called off but Kent didn't get the message because he was distracted by an official who asked him which foot he uses for punting; pretty crazy. Kent was super punting the ball all nights and had punts that went 45, 31, 60, 53, 46, 47 and 50 yards. His first punt was for 27 yards and went out of bounds at the USC 16. Of the 7 punts Kent had only 3 of them were returnable, for a paltry minus 4 yards. By contrast, Vandy's John Cole continues to excel at returning punts. He averaged almost 9 yards on 4 punt returns which is outstanding. Walker May came up with a huge field goal block early in the final quarter. Ryan Fowler made his only extra point attempt. He needs to kick more of those!
They did some good things in the first half but had no answer in the second half. Caldwell accepted responsibility for the botched fake punt on Monday. Coaches need to be more aware of what is going on the field with their team. The defense did well in the first half until Maddox and the hurry up got going and the VU coaches had no answer. The Commodore offensive coaches similarly didn't have any answer for the Gamecock defense's adjustments. Other than the fake, good job by Ted Cain with the special teams. How refreshing.
A big improvement for sure over Georgia. The Commodores showed a little offense in the first half and the defense was flying around like crazy for a while giving the old ball coach fits. However, the team has to be able to finish the job and win the game. It will be interesting to see what affect Des Kitchings will have on the offense over the next few games. Don't expect much against Arkansas because there will be some growing pains as the team adjusts to a new chief over their offense.

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