Three Keys Revisited: Vandy vs. USC

After each game week this season we will look back at the three keys which we believed would lead to a Vandy victory and access how the team did in these areas. Doing this should provide some perspective on where the 'Dores went right (or wrong) on game day. After the agonizing week 1 defeat to USC where VU did a lot of things right, it was small margins in these keys which resulted in the loss.

1) Feed off of the crowd

This was quite simply one of the best crowds in Vanderbilt school history. Despite rainstorms and a Titans exhibition game which inexplicably was being played at the same time, nearly 38,400 black clad fans were baying for Commodores to do their thing and send the Gamecocks home with a loss. James Franklin had called this game Vanderbilt's Super Bowl, and early on the team (defense especially) did all they could to keep the crowd at fever pitch.

With the defense forcing two turnovers in the first 10 minutes, the Commodores had a couple of huge chances to take control of the game early. Even the goal line interception on the most telegraphed throw back screen in history could not calm down the fans. Vanderbilt should be proud of what they were able to showcase on ESPN, and if nights like this are the norm then Nashville will become a regular destination for national TV very soon. 2) Keep Marcus Lattimore quiet

Lattimore was without doubt the biggest reason that a scrappy Vanderbilt team could not beat South Carolina. In his first game back from ACL surgery the junior had his biggest runs at just the right times to thwart Vanderbilt defensive efforts and keep the chains moving. The combination of Lattimore and Connor Shaw running the ball was just too much, even though Vandy had completely nullified anything USC wanted to do through the air. Lattimore's single biggest contribution to the game was the first of his two touchdown runs which seemed to stun the Commodores for about the next ten minutes of game time.

3) The offensive line has to step up

On the whole you would have to say that the offensive line did its job on Thursday night. Sure, at some points Jordan Rodgers was having to buy time and make plays with his feet, but when you play a defensive line which is as dangerous as South Carolina's that is going to be the case no matter who you have up front. I would have liked to see more out of the running game though and the run blocking was somewhere between average and poor with the interior linemen getting overwhelmed too often for my liking.

All that being said, any time you outgain the number nine team in the country (276-272) the line has to get a passing mark.

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