MMQB: What Went Right, What Went Wrong In South Carolina’s 41-7 Win Over Vanderbilt

South Carolina defeated Vanderbilt on Saturday, 41-7, to move to 1-2 (1-2) on the year.

Contrary to the first couple games this season, the Gamecocks got off to a slow start offensively but ended up hitting their stride in the second half to pull away with ease.

As was the case with both other games this year, the outcome was very predictable and there wasn’t much surprise throughout the game.

Let’s check out some stats from Saturday afternoon and see who played well. 

How The Offense Played 

41 Points 

485 Total Yards 

Obviously the best offensive performance of the young season, the group was consistent for the majority of the game and had the numbers to show for it.

South Carolina won the time of possession battle once again, but only by a couple minutes this time.

It was another routine performance from Collin Hill this week, but a little bit of a disappointing stat-line. He threw for 169 passing yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions on 67% completion.

His lower numbers are partly due to the nature of the game, since the Gamecocks were in control for most of the game and elected to run the football plenty.

It was the first game of the year where Carolina had more rushing attempts than passing attempts, as Hill only threw the ball 24 times as opposed to 39 rush attempts.

Hill also had two rushing touchdowns in situations where he could’ve had passing touchdowns.

Kevin Harris continues to show that he can be a workhorse running back in the SEC. He totaled 171 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries.

His most impressive run was an 88 yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter, where he showed off his sneaky good top end speed.

His top end speed was the only real question mark for him when he was a recruit, so if he can prove he has that sort of speed he will be a very complete three-down back. He also had four receptions for 29 yards as well, which took his total yards from scrimmage to 200 on the game.

The leading receiver for South Carolina was tight end Nick Muse, who finished with 85 yards on five catches. Muse has been known to have a drop problem, but when he is able to reel it in he is a very solid option in the receiving game.

Shi Smith had his worst statistical outing of the year, with just 46 yards on four receptions. But again, that is partly because of the run-first nature of the Gamecocks offense for most of the game.

As a whole, I liked this offensive performance from South Carolina. Although the Vanderbilt defense is not special by any means, this offense has shown the ability to be more balanced and versatile than it has been in a long time. 

How The Defense Played 

7 Points Allowed 

249 Total Yards Allowed 

Saturday was also a pretty stout performance by the defense. The group has shown improvement as the season is taking shape, and has decreased their yards allowed numbers each week so far this season.

Ernest Jones led the way with a performance that might land him player of the week honors in the SEC. Jones had 13 tackles, 1 sack, and 3 tackles for loss.

Jammie Robinson was also involved a lot, as he had 7 tackles and 1 tackle for loss as well. Kingsley Enagbare and Rick Sandidge also each had a sack as well.

Against the run, Carolina only allowed 2.3 yards per rush and 76 rush yards on the game, both numbers which are very impressive. It marks the second week in a row that the Gamecocks front seven has allowed fewer than 100 rush yards, and they have not allowed more than four yards per rush in a game all season.

Another bright spot of the defensive performance was the ability to get off the field on third and fourth down. The Vanderbilt offense was held to 1-11 on third down and 0-3 on fourth down. This has become an impressive trend for Muschamp’s defense so far this season.

Between the Tennessee and Vanderbilt contests, the defense has held those offenses to a combined 2-23 on third and 0-4 on fourth down. The third down defense and the run defense have both been near elite this season so far, and show the potential that the group has.

However, there are certainly areas needing improvement on the defense. In my opinion, the defense has not gotten enough sacks so far this year. With as much talent as the defensive line has, theres no reason for Carolina to post such low sack numbers.

Through the first three games, South Carolina only has 7 total sacks. For comparison, the Carolina offensive line has allowed 10 sacks on the year, including two from Vanderbilt. Florida and Tennessee each had 4 sacks on Collin Hill.

Another area that needs addressing is the inability to create turnovers. South Carolina has only forced 4 turnovers on the year so far. While that number isn’t horrible, I feel like it should be higher.

If Muschamp and this defense can figure out how to create turnovers and get to opposing quarterbacks, this defense has the potential to be a Top 20 unit nationally.

Final Thoughts 

In another game that went basically just the way it should have, it is starting to feel like South Carolina is one of the most predictable teams in the country, results wise.

South Carolina dominated the game from early on, and never conceded the lead in the game. Carolina was also just 15 yards away from having double Vanderbilt’s total yards.

It was a game that South Carolina needed to dominate, and they did just that. Now the morale is high and the team has confidence heading into next week, when the Top 15 Auburn Tigers come into town.

Will Muschamp and South Carolina will try to right the ship next week, in what would be a huge win to provide new hope to a season that once felt lost.

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