South Carolina Football: 7 Keys to Winning the Vanderbilt Game
It feels so good to be back to writing my "Keys to Victory" series. That means football is finally here, and we can talk about actual matchups.
South Carolina has struggled in opening games recently. Even when South Carolina wins by multiple touchdowns (ECU in 2011 and Southern Miss in 2010) they look rough. Anyone who watched those games knows exactly what I am talking about.
South Carolina can't afford an off night here. This isn't your daddy's Commodors.
Luckily for Gamecock fans, this isn't your daddy's Gamecocks.
|Position||SC Adv.||Even||Vandy Adv.|
|Wide Receivers||X |
|Offensive Line||X |
|Defensive Line||X |
|Defensive Backs||X |
|Special Teams||X |
South Carolina pretty much owns all of the matchups here. However, Vanderbilt's defense is pretty good, and it will give South Carolina's offense a workout. The question is whether or not they can score. If they can't move the ball against the Gamecocks stellar defense, this could become a blowout early.
If they can score a couple of touchdowns and play lights out on defense, this could turn into an upset very quickly.
1. Pressure Jordan Rodgers
Jordan Rodgers could be very good this season. He has the talent. However, the South Carolina defensive line should be able to maul Vandy's front. This will mask South Carolina's true Achilles heel, which is their defensive backfield.
If Rodgers gets time to throw, he could very well have a big game. Clowney and Co. can't allow that to happen.
2. Avoid the Big Pass Play
There are lots of Gamecock fans that aren't worried about the defensive secondary.
I am not one of those people.
Vanderbilt's offense should rely on the run, setting up the play-action pass. If the corners and safeties don't play smart, disciplined football, then the Gamecocks could easily see a couple of long scores go against them.
3. Establish Ground Dominance
South Carolina should have no problem grinding with the ground game. If the Gamecocks can establish a solid running game early with Marcus Lattimore and Kenny Miles, this opens the game up.
Grind the defense and make them hurt early.
4. Get an Early Lead
Vanderbilt isn't built to come from behind. If the Gamecocks can jump to an early lead, the Commodores won't be able to answer.
In fact, this game could get ugly at that point. If Vanderbilt can keep it close, they have a good chance of winning.
5. Spread the Wealth
South Carolina can't look to one receiver anymore to make plays. Alshon Jeffery is gone, and a plethora of talented youngsters take his place.
This will allow Connor Shaw to get through his reads. Look for big plays from multiple receivers.
6. Avoid Special Teams Miscues
Special teams must be improved this year in order for the Gamecocks to truly compete in the SEC. In this first game, South Carolina must kick well, and make a few big plays in the return game.
They have the talent to have a good unit this year.
7. Do Not Turn the Ball over
Vanderbilt doesn't need extra chances to score. Interceptions and fumbles cannot be tolerated in this game. South Carolina should be clean, efficient and leave little doubt who one of the best teams in the SEC is going to be in 2012.
Final Thoughts and "The Pick"
In a battle of two rising SEC teams, the Gamecocks should come out on top. If they take this game seriously (as they should), it shouldn't be close. The Gamecocks are superior in every category of the game.
While Vanderbilt is rising, they may have hit their ceiling. However, 6-7 win seasons will be great for an academic basketball school.
South Carolina's ceiling is much, much higher.
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