Morris: Defense was key to win

The Commodores kept their bowl hopes alive on Saturday with a huge win over the Gamecocks of South Carolina. The win brought them to 4-3 on the season, leaving them just two wins shy of qualifying for a bowl game.

The Vanderbilt defense was the key to this victory. They kept Steve Spurrier's South Carolina offense out of sync all day long. South Carolina came into this game hoping to establish the ground game and then go to the air. Vanderbilt just simply did not allow them to do this and allowed only 26 net yards rushing on 22 attempts. This forced Spurrier and his offense to become one dimensional.

South Carolina did not find much success when they went to the air either. While they did end up with 256 yards passing, they were sacked 7 times. Both Chris Smelley and Blake Mitchell spent all day trying to avoid the relentless pass rush of the Vanderbilt defense. The pass rushed forced both quarterbacks to make a number of bad decisions that resulted in 3 interceptions.

The Vanderbilt offense played very efficiently in this game. The coaching staff learned from their mistakes of the Georgia game and stuck with Mackenzie Adams at quarterback for the entire game. Adams managed the game extremely well. He was 8 of 16 passing for 123 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. He also ran the ball 13 times for 84 yards. Adams proved that he has what it takes to lead this Commodore team to victory.

D.J. Moore opened the game with a bang on Saturday when he returned the opening kickoff for 43 yards. He finished the game with 3 kick returns for 102 yards. Those kick returns were huge because they gave the Vanderbilt offense good field position.

Vanderbilt easily won the field position battle in this game. South Carolina had seven drives that started inside of their 20 yard line. Five of those seven drives started inside the 10 yard line. A lot of the credit for the bad field position South Carolina faced in this game goes to Vanderbilt punter Brett Upson. Upson punted 8 times and averaged 40.1 yards per punt. Six of his eight punts were downed inside the South Carolina 20 yard line.

Moore did not just return kicks on Saturday. He had two of the three Vanderbilt interceptions and also played a few snaps on offense. His offensive snaps were not as productive this week as last week, but his presence on offense presents a lot of match-up problems for the opposing defense. Moore is proving that he is one of the most versatile players in all of college football.

This win provides a lot of momentum for the Commodores heading into the back end of their schedule. The win should provide the confidence the Commodores need when they take on teams such as Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee. Vanderbilt cannot afford to look ahead to those teams just yet however. They have a must win game in Nashville against Miami of Ohio this weekend.


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