Vanderbilt Report Card: South Carolina

Vanderbilt fell to South Carolina 48-34 on Saturday at Vanderbilt Stadium. VandyMania.com's Don Yates grades the Commodores' performance in several key team areas

PASSING OFFENSE: C
Patton Robinette started the game and played all of the first quarter. Robinette completed 4-of-5 passes for 55 yards and a touchdown. He left the contest after completing an 8-yard scoring pass to C.J. Duncan to put Vandy up 14-0. True freshman Wade Freebeck took over at the beginning of the second quarter and completed 11-of-20 passes for 168 yards, a touchdown and near the end of the first half had an interception that was returned for a TD. Freebeck, who connected on the first touchdown pass of his career on the final 'Dore drive of the game, looks like he has good poise and a solid arm along with good mobility. Steven Scheu led the 'Dores in receptions with three catches for 83 yards. The Vandy blockers gave up one sack during the game.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B
The Commodores gained 156 yards rushing on 30 carries (5.2 YPC). Ralph Webb again led the way with 97 yards on 19 carries (5.1 YPC). At his current pace he could run for 4,536 yards during his Vandy career. Jerron Seymour had six carries for 32 yards (5.3 YPC). Trent Sherfield gained 25-yards on an end around in his first college action. Vandy's offensive line was aggressive and blocked well.

PASSING DEFENSE: D
Vanderbilt's secondary continues to allow way too many passes to be completed. Gamecock's QB Dylan Thompson completed 22-of-34 passes for 237 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Through 1/4 of its season Vanderbilt still has not intercepted a pass. Vandy's Adam Butler was the lone Commodore to garner a sack of Thompson and that sack came in the first drive of the game. Torren McGaster and Jahmel McIntosh each had pass breakups.

RUSHING DEFENSE: D
Vanderbilt's defenders were doing fairly decent at stopping the run until allowing Pharoh Cooper to escape for a 70-yard run to the VU one late in the fourth quarter. That lone run would bump the Gamecock rushing totals from 142 yards (4.3 YPC) to 212 yards (6.2 YPC). Mike Davis (3 carries/82 yards) was the top rusher USC on the night. Linebacker Nigel Bowden led the 'Dores in tackles with eight.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C+
Darrius Sims returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. Sims took the opening kickoff through the Gamecocks for 91-yards and a touchdown. Later, Sims struck again, this time going for 100 yards. After the second of Sims' scoring returns the Gamecocks reverted to squib kickoffs which caused problems for Vandy's return unit. One squib resulted in a starting position at the Commodore 5-yard-line and another squib was fumbled and helped the Gamecocks pull away from a game in which they led only 34-27 late in the fourth quarter. Colby Cooke had three punts for a 48-yard average. He boomed one 62 yards and had another that he booted 53 yards that resulted in the Gamecocks starting a drive at their own 13, a drive that would later fizzle. Tommy Openshaw made two field goals (25 & 30 yards) but had another that was blocked. Vandy's punt and kickoff return coverage teams were solid.

COACHING: C
The team showed some improvement by scoring over 30 points for the second straight week. Points are points, regardless of whether they come from the offense, defense or special teams. Freshman QB Wade Freebeck looks like he has a promising future. Defensively the team is showing little improvement and answers need to be found. The coaching staff needs to work on special situations like squib kickoffs to avoid disasters before games, instead of waiting to work on things after the disaster has already occurred- and another game lost. Players continue to show a lack of discipline based on multiple costly unsportsmanlike penalties.

OVERALL GRADE: C
Again, the team showed some improvement but didn't show poise late in the game when the score was 34-27 and Vandy still had a shot. The late turnover on the kickoff and the 70-yard run that allowed the 'Cocks to put away the game, are reminiscent of the kinds of blunders that many of the pre-2011 Vanderbilt teams would make.

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