Key No. 1 - COMPLETE TEAM EFFORT - FAIL
It was a complete team for a little over a quarter but after that, the offense regressed and later the defense and special teams also failed to get things done. The offense started out well gaining 76 yards in the first quarter which is a pace to gain over 300 yards in a game, not a juggernaut offense but not pitiful. In the end, the 'Dores ended up with 242 yards of total offense. The telling possession was with 1:25 left in the first half when Vandy just ran the ball three times and let the clock run out. How can confidence and swagger be developed in the offense when you show them that you don't trust them by throwing away possessions? The defense played well until the fourth quarter when they gave up 10 points and way too many yards for the Black Death Defense. The special teams play itself was kind of a 'push'. Tommy Openshaw had the early field goal but later missed a 45-yard field goal into the wind that could have forced overtime. Vandy also had a 20-yard punt by starter Reid Nelson when the 'Dores were backed up in their own territory. True freshman Sam Loy then came in and finished out the game with a sound performance, averaging over 40 yards a punt and allowing USC few returnable punts.
Key No. 2 - SHURMUR IS SOUND - PUSH
Kyle Shurmur was solid early, completing four of his first six passes and leading the team to two scoring drives. However, the coaches suddenly switched out quarterbacks and this seems to have adversely affected Shurmur's confidence and he went downhill from there, as he completed just four of his next 16 attempts. Shurmur is a fairly accurate passer but he's still young and if you screw with his mind bad things can happen.
Key No. 3 - DEFENSE DOMINATES - PUSH
The defense was on top of things in the first half when they swarmed South Carolina and limited the Gamecocks to just 88 yards. Ultimately, though, the Gamecocks would gain 308 yards during the game. For the second season in a row, when the game was on the line the Commodore defense had no answer for former walk-on Perry Orth who is now 2-7 as a starting quarterback. Orth had just 152 yards passing during the game but picked Vandy apart late in the contest.
In a nutshell, this is a game that Vandy should have won. Playing passively on offense can come back to bite you when you don't have a lot of points, even if you have a great defense.