Opposition Danger Men: South Carolina

We are up to the final home game (of four) which the Commodores will have the benefit of starting the season with in 2014. We are going to continue taking a closer look at a couple of difference makers who Vandy will come up against each week when the season gets started. These are the guys that the coaches must game plan for if the 2014 ‘Dores football season is going to be a success.

South Carolina

Offense: RB – Mike Davis

Mike Davis has the chance to put himself in the conversation as the best running back in South Carolina history this fall. He is the engine that drives this machine, the player that has to be stopped every game, and the guy who can lead this Gamecock team to a National Championship and bag himself the Heisman Trophy in the process.

Yes. He is that good.

Davis has been named on a couple of Preseason Third Team All-American lists and that might actually be devaluing his ability and his importance to this team. Davis is an elite rusher who is a stocky and powerful five-feet-nine and 216 pounds. Davis has an electric mix of speed, agility, and a nose for the end zone, all traits you would be looking for when designing an elite back. He has also proven that he can be a workhorse for the South Carolina offense, carrying them thought games at points during his sophomore season last year.

The only real question about Davis is that of durability. In the first seven games of 2013 he rushed for more than 100 yards six times and scored ten rushing touchdowns (note the one non 100-yard effort came against Vandy). In the final five games, however, he broke 100 yards only once (Mississippi State) and rushed for just one score. If he can find a way to protect his body and stay fresher as the season continues then Davis will be a hassle for every team he faces, including the Commodores.

Defense: LB – Skai Moore

Last year the Gamecocks built from the line backwards on defense with a unit which was as good as any in the country. Obviously Jadeveon Clowney will be a massive loss, but just as much is going from the interior of the defensive line with Kelcy Quarles also heading for the NFL. This means that barring an unlikely break out of stars early in the season up front, the best part of the defense this year will be the linebackers.

The best of that group is sophomore Skai Moore. Moore burst out of nowhere last year as he led the team in tackles (56) as a true freshman. Moore though is much more than just an athletic defender who can make tackles. He has an attitude toward the game which is a coach's dream, never believing that he is out of a play and chasing down every lost cause. This relentless pursuit of the ball, along with those natural football instinct's which you just can't teach, was the reason that last fall he had four interceptions and a fumble recovery.

As with many true freshmen who are thrown in at the deep end, Moore started the season slowly. At 6-feet-2 and 210 pounds he is a rangy linebacker who is almost built more like a strong safety or big wide receiver. As a result he is able to get all over the field and make plays which he misread purely due to athletic talent. As the season went on though he became more comfortable in the scheme and with another offseason in the playbook there is no reason to expect anything other than an increase in production in 2014.

Against South Carolina it will be important for Vanderbilt to establish a threat both through the air and on the ground. The ‘Dores may well be able to take advantage of the fact that the Gamecocks line is not as strong as it was last year, but in order to make big plays someone is going to have to get downfield and put a body on Moore. It will also be very important for whoever is quarterbacking the team to keep in mind the range that Moore has in coverage and that even though a passing lane might look open the pass will have to be perfect if this linebacker is in the vicinity.

VandyMania.com Top Stories