South Carolina wins the SEC opener over Vanderbilt 13-10. What are the 5 things that matter about the Gamecock victory?
Will Muschamp is 1-0.
The ground game might not have been as good as the coaching staff might have liked, but could this game have been more Will Muschamp?
Play great defense, control the clock, and win on special teams.
The Gamecocks only ran for 121 yards, but they were able keep the Commodores pinned deep with the punting game, and despite not winning the time of possession, they were able to keep things moving better after the first quarter.
Elliott Fry became a USC legend with his bombs from 48 yards out in the third and 55 yards away in the fourth, and it’s a win under the new coaching staff.
Total disaster for Vanderbilt.
Without a slew of upsets along the way, it’ll be tough to find a path to get to a bowl game for the Commodores now. South Carolina is going to be better, but it’s a beatable team that didn’t open up the offense enough.
Vandy couldn’t get the key offensive drives in the second half after owning the first quarter – for the most part – and now it’s going to have to scramble. If the passing game isn’t sharper and stronger, another special defensive season will be wasted.
The South Carolina quarterback situation.
Perry Orth started, and he took over in the second half and was the steady leader the offense needed to get the win. He’s not going to run – he gained just eight yards – but he completed 11-of-19 passes for 152 yards. Meanwhile, freshman Brandon McIlwain only completed 5-of-11 passes for 35 yards, and ran for 29 yards on seven carries. Both will see time, but this should be the gameplan – it’s Orth’s team when the game matters.
Does Vanderbilt have to rotate quarterbacks again?
It was the problem throughout last year, and now Vandy might have a concern again if Kyle Shurmur isn’t better.
The Commodores have to sink-or-swim with one guy, rely on the all-around playmaking ability of RB Ralph Webb, and hope the defense can still rock. However, Shurmur failed to do much of anything down the field with no deep game.
The dink-and-dunk attack didn’t really work, and soon, the O has to open it up more. Shurmur has to show he can make the plays needed when he gets his chances.
What Does This All REALLY Mean?
This was absolutely massive for South Carolina.
With a trip to Mississippi State up next, and the next SEC game a few weeks later at Kentucky, a loss to Vanderbilt would’ve been crushing. It’s still going to take a few upsets to get to a bowl game, but it would’ve been next to impossible to get to six wins without taking this one.
Again, Vanderbilt had to win this to realistically get to the post-season, and now it has to deal with four road games in five dates after next week’s game against Middle Tennessee. Getting up off the mat immediately is going to be the key – the season can’t be over with one tough loss to South Carolina.