Big Plays Will Be Key Against South Carolina

The Vanderbilt Commodores look to open Southeastern Conference play with a win on Thursday night when the South Carolina Gamecocks come to Nashville. The Gamecocks will be looking to avenge the Commodores 17-6 victory in Columbia last season.

Vandy will need another solid game from quarterback Chris Nickson. Nickson got his season off to a great start last week and will be facing a tough South Carolina defense that shut out North Carolina State last Thursday. They held the NC State quarterbacks to 5 for 20 passing and forced 2 interceptions. It will be important for Nickson to take the throws the defense gives him and not try to force the ball to receivers that are covered.

It will also be important for the Black and Gold to establish the run early in this game. The best way for an offense to open up the passing game is to establish a good ground game. The Commodore running backs carried the ball 25 times for just 77 yards last week. They will need a better effort from those guys to be successful on Thursday. VU will also need Nickson to have another good performance with his legs.

D.J. Moore had a big game against the Redhawks last week with a 91 yard punt return, a sack, a forced fumble and an interception. The Commodores will need him to make some big plays against the Gamecocks. Field position will be very important in this game because both teams play good defense. Moore can help Vanderbilt win the field position battle with a big punt return or an interception.

Defensively it will be very important for Vandy to slow the South Carolina run game that racked up 171 yards last week. The Gamecock rushing attack is led by senior tailback Mike Davis. Davis rushed for 101 yards on 14 carries last week. If Bobby Johnson's Bunch can slow down the rushing game it will force the Gamecocks into obvious passing downs which will allow the defensive line to rush the passer without worrying about playing the run.

The VU secondary is regarded by many around the conference to be the strength of the defense. They will need to play well against Steve Spurrier's passing attack this week. The Gamecocks have some questions at quarterback. Last week's starter, Tommy Beecher, was taken out of the game after throwing 4 interceptions. He was replaced by Chris Smelley who completed all five of his passes. The Vandy defense will need to be opportunistic and make plays when they have the chance.

This is a very important game for Vanderbilt's season. They need to continue the momentum that was started by last week's convincing win. The game is on national television so a good performance is important to building the program, and it is always important to start off the SEC schedule with a win. These teams are pretty evenly matched so a big play will probably be the difference. The Commodores will win this game if they take care of the ball and keep the Gamecocks from easy scoring opportunities.

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