South Carolina aims for 12th straight win over Vandy
South Carolina hopes to continue its stranglehold on Vanderbilt as the two Southeastern Conference Eastern Division rivals meet in Nashville, Tenn., at Vanderbilt Stadium on Saturday.
Each team needs a win in the worst way.
The Commodores (0-2, 0-2 SEC) have lost three straight dating back to last season, six in a row in the SEC.
South Carolina (0-2, 0-2) has lost five games in a row and three straight in the conference. The Gamecocks’ last win came last Nov. 2 in a 24-7 victory over Vandy.
That marked Carolina’s 11th straight win in the annual series and the average margin of victory was 11.2 points.
As for this season, the Gamecocks had a chance to beat ranked opponents Tennessee and Florida late, but big plays are biting Carolina.
Coach Will Muschamp voiced frustration with a pass defense that’s allowing 8.7 yards per attempt. That’s not been customary under his watch in Columbia, which began in 2016: Carolina allowed 5.6, 5.2, 5.6 and 5.5 yards per pass in his four full seasons.
“The bottom line is … you give up 10 explosive passes in two games and that’s way too many,” Muschamp said. “That’s something that’s frustrating.”
The Gamecocks’ pass defense may catch a break this week.
Vanderbilt’s true freshman quarterback Ken Seals (31 of 54, 263 yards, two TDs, four interceptions) has shown promise, but his targets lack the speed to find separation, while his offensive line can’t protect him. In last week’s 41-7 loss to LSU, Seals averaged just 4.5 yards per pass attempt, was picked twice, sacked twice and hurried eight times against just 25 attempts.
“We’re actively working on pushing the envelope offensively because we need production in the pass game,” Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason said. “That’s going to be important for us as we move forward.”
Offensive has been a big problem for Vanderbilt, not just in the series–VU has managed just 28 total points the past time the teams have played–but in general.
The Commodores have scored just 17 offensive points this season (two of the team’s points came via safety). Vanderbilt has failed to score more than 14 points in any of its last six league games.
VU pinned its hopes on defense from the start. In the opener, the Commodores forced three turnovers and allowed 17 points to Texas A&M, thanks to stellar play from their defensive line.
But last week, LSU ripped VU for 337 passing yards and four touchdowns. Vandy failed to record a sack.
Vanderbilt will have to get to Carolina quarterback Collin Hill (53 of 86, 502 yards, three TDs, one interception) to have a chance at an upset. That’s an area of concern for the Gamecocks, who’ve allowed eight sacks in two games and average just 4.5 yards per snap.
–Field Level Media