former quarterback and then wide receiver Syvelle Newton back to
quarterback following the one-game suspension of starting signal caller Blake
Spurrier has never lost to the Commodores. In 13 previous meetings, his Duke teams
beat Vandy twice, his
Scoring: 21.3 points per game ranks 10th in the SEC and 81st of 119 in Division I-A
Rushing Average: 130.0 yards per game (4.0 avg) ranks 9th in the SEC, 68th in Division I-A
Passing Average: 222.3 yards per game ranks 6th in the SEC, 44th in Division I-A. The Gamecocks are completing 61.0% of their passes and averaging 7.8 yards per pass attempt.
Passing Efficiency: 138.81 ranks 5th in the SEC and 38th in Division I-A
Total Yardage: 352.3 yards per game ranks 6th in the SEC and 58th in Division I-A
QB Sacks allowed: 17 sacks in 6 games ranks 9th in the SEC and 95th in Division I-A
Turnover Margin: +1 in 6 games ranks 5th in the SEC and 51st in Division I-A
Breakdown by Position
What more can you say about Sidney Rice (6-4, 202 So.)? He is the best wide out in the
Southeastern Conference and one of the 10 best in the nation. He's just a sophomore and probably the
best underclassman receiver in Division I-A, ranking ahead of
If Vanderbilt tries to use all their resources to stop or slow Rice, then
Kenny McKinley (5-11, 174 So.) will make them pay. McKinley has 20 receptions for 347 yards
(17.4 avg). Against
The Gamecocks are thin at this position after the two starters; backups
Moe Brown and Chris Hall have combined for just 11 passes and 86 yards. When
Robert Pavlovic (6-4, 242 Jr.) has caught one pass and David Laggis (6-5, 254 Jr.) has yet to catch one this year. Obviously, this is a blocking and not a pass catching position. Andy Boyd was supposed to start at this position, but a shoulder injury has kept him on the sidelines for most of the season.
This group was a weak spot at the beginning of the season, but it has improved since then. Center Chris White (6-3, 319 Sr.) is the leader of the unit. A Remington Award candidate, he has started 34 games in his college career.
Guards Thomas Coleman (6-3, 316 Sr.) and Garrett Anderson (6-5, 293 True Fr.) are better pass blockers than run blockers with little experience but much promise. Coleman was a walk-on who earned a scholarship earlier this year. He was named the most improved offensive lineman last season.
Tackles Hutch Eckerson (6-6, 286 True Fr.) and Jamon Meredith (6-4, 286 So.) are tall and lanky but not overly strong. They don't measure up to some of the excellent tackles Vandy has faced this season. Meredith is a highly intelligent player.
Syvelle Newton (6-0, 210 Sr.) was moved from quarterback to receiver when
Spurrier took the
Lanard Stafford (5-9, 240 Jr.) has started four times this year and has
yet to receive a handoff for a running play. He hasn't been asked to catch a pass
backup Brian Kingery (6-1, 237 Jr.) has not rushed or caught a pass this
Cory Boyd (6-1, 201 Jr.) picked up his first 100-yard rushing game
Boyd combines power and speed and possesses an excellent pair of hands coming out of the backfield on passing plays. He leads the Gamecocks with 325 yards rushing (5.2 avg) and four touchdowns. He's also caught 17 passes for 196 yards and another score.
Rank saw action against FAU and responded with 101 yards rushing on 15 carries, including a 44-yard romp.
The Gamecocks are winning ball games thanks to an aggressive,
hard-hitting defense. They gave up
24 points to
Here is a look at USC's defensive statistics for the season:
Scoring Defense: 14.2 points per game allowed ranks 4th in the SEC and 18th in Division I-A
Vs. The Run: 149.0 yards allowed per game (3.9 avg) ranks 10th in the SEC and 82nd in Division I-A
Vs. The Pass: 152.0 yards allowed per game ranks 3rd in the SEC and 13th in Division I-A. The Gamecocks allow just 47.0% of enemy passes to be completed and allow 6.9 yards per pass attempt. They have intercepted 5.3% of enemy passes.
Opp. Passing Efficiency: 100.40 ranks 3rd in the SEC and 18th in Division I-A
Opp. Total Offense: 301.0 yards ranks 8th in the SEC and 39th in Division I-A
Tackles For Loss:
Turnover Margin: -.17 per game ranks 5th in the SEC and 51st in Division I-A
Nose Tackle Stanley Doughty (6-0, 331 Jr.) is a bit slow when having to pursue laterally, but if you run directly at him, he's going to win the battle almost every time. He stops the run when teams are foolish enough to challenge him, but he's virtually no threat on passing plays. He doesn't pressure quarterbacks. Backup Joel Reaves (6-1, 271 Jr.) is a much better pass rusher than Doughty but he can be moved out of position on running plays, especially draws.
Tackle Nathan Pepper (6-1, 285 So.) is the rock of the defensive line. He is a consistent force against both the run and pass. Pepper has registered 15 stops with three for losses, and he has a sack.
The anchor positions are manned by a couple of new starters this year. Ends Casper Brinkley (6-3, 250 Jr.) and Ryan Brown (6-0, 258 Jr.) have combined for 33 tackles, 6.5 going for losses. Both are better run stoppers than pass rushers. They are more than adequate forcing running backs to the inside where the linebackers can become heroes.
Backup end Eric Norwood (6-2, 258 True Fr.) is a designated pass rusher. He leads the Gamecocks with four sacks and three QB hurries.
Most teams that run a 4-3 defense want their middle linebacker to be the
Outside linebackers Rodney Paulk (6-0, 212 True Fr.) and Cody Wells (5-11, 212 Jr.) are not as talented as Brinkley, but they have speed and can pursue better than the average linebacker. Backup Marvin Sapp (5-11, 215 So.) is actually the team's second leading tackler with 30. He has 2.5 tackles for loss and a quarterback sack.
Carlos Thomas (5-10, 179 So.) is the weakest link in the secondary, but he isn't a weak player. His strong point is coming hard on the corner blitz, and Vanderbilt will have to keep an eye on him ruining running plays. If Marlon White or Sean Walker and Earl Bennett line up wide and go deep with someone keeping the safeties occupied in the deep middle, Nickson is going to find a Commodore receiver open 30 yards or more downfield in this game. A long pass off play-action could sucker Thomas just enough to pick up a quick six.
Rover Chris Hampton (5-11, 184 Jr.) began the season with interceptions
Free safety Stoney Woodson (5-11, 190 So.) has two interceptions, one
Succop is an exceptional place kicker as well. He has connected on all 13 point after tries this year and is 8 of 9 with field goal attempts. His only miss came on a 51-yarder, and he's 4 of 4 from 40 to 49 yards. His kickoffs frequently make it to the end zone.
The rest of the USC special teams are average or slightly better than
average. Wide receiver McKinley
returns punts. He gets about 5-10
yards when he doesn't call for a fair catch, and his long this year is just 13
yards. Cornerback Thomas is the
chief kick returner. He's averaged
23.8 yards per return with a long of 51 this season, and he took a kick back for
79 yards last year against
This looks like another
Defensively, the pass rush has got to be on this week.
For an in-depth comparison of the teams and prediction of the outcome, check back Friday morning.
For Comparison Purposes, here's how Vandy ranks in the offensive and defensive statistical categories. The first number in parentheses represents SEC rank and the second number represents D1A rank.
Scoring Offense: 21.6 ppg (9 & 79)
Rushing Offense: 150.0 yds per game (5 & 52) and 4.7 avg (5.1 w/out sacks)
Passing Offense: 166.7 yds per game (10 & 94)
55.6% completions and 6.6 yards per attempt
Passing Efficiency: 121.4 (9 & 69)
QB Sacks Allowed: 9 in 6 games (4 & 30)
Total Offense: 316.7 yds per game (9 & 83)
Turnover Margin: -0.14 (7 & 67)
Scoring Defense: 17.6 ppg (6 & 33)
Rushing Defense: 146.7 yds per game (9 & 79) and 3.7 yards allowed per rush
Passing Defense: 166.1 yds per game (7 & 24)
Allows 57.7% completions and 7.8 yards per attempt
Passing Efficiency Defense: 132.5 (9 & 78)
QB Sacks: 13 in 7 games (9 & 66)
Total Defense: 312.9 (9 & 46)
TFL: 39 in seven games