This game will be a very tough test for the Commodores' offense. South Carolina has one of the better defenses in the country. They are only allowing 16.6 points per game. They do have some issues against the run, however, where they are giving up 182.3 yards per game. It will be very important for the Commodores to get all three of their running backs, Cassen Jackson-Garrison, Jeff Jennings and Jared Hawkins, involved early in this game. Vanderbilt will need to move the chains with rushing game to keep drives alive and keep Steve Spurrier's high powered offense off the field.
DJ Moore needs to be involved in the offense again this week. With the exception of Earl Bennett, DJ Moore is the biggest playmaker the Commodores have on their roster and having him on the field opens up all kinds of possibilities for Ted Cain. The success Moore had running the ball last week makes South Carolina's defense have to account for him every time he is on the field. His presence will make for some big plays even when he does not touch the ball.
Passing does not come easy against the South Carolina defense. Mackenzie Adams and Chris Nickson will need to take care of the ball when they drop back to throw. Hopefully the coaching staff will use less rotation at the quarterback position than they did last week, allowing one guy to get into a rhythm.
The defense faces another tough challenge this Saturday. Spurrier coached teams always have a little wrinkle in the offense that you have not seen before. The Gamecocks have two running backs, Cory Boyd and Mike Davis, that average almost five yards per carry. Vanderbilt will need to be able to contain these guys with their front seven. They will not be able to afford to bring an extra defender into the box for run support.
The Commodores defense will also need to get pressure on South Carolina's redshirt freshman quarterback Chris Smelley. Smelley has run the offense pretty efficiently since he took over for Blake Mitchell, but if the Commodores can get in his face, he will try and force some things that are not open. Vanderbilt is going to need to force some turnovers to help the offense have some easy scoring chances.
This game is not a must win for Vanderbilt's bowl hopes, but a win could give them some good momentum heading into the toughest stretch of their schedule. The best way for an underdog to win on the road is by big plays in special teams and turnovers on defense. DJ Moore is the "X" factor in this game. If he can make a big kick return or intercept a pass on defense, Vanderbilt could be back over .500 when they head back to Nashville.