South Carolina Versus Vanderbilt: 5 Keys to a Gamecock Victory

Alex Roberts@@alexCoAbassCorrespondent ISeptember 20, 2011

South Carolina Versus Vanderbilt: 5 Keys to a Gamecock Victory

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    Vanderbilt has made huge gains in 2011 and have already become a noteworthy team in the SEC.  Beating UConn and Mississippi were big wins for this team. Add the Elon win, and they are sitting at 3-0, tied for first in the East with South Carolina and Florida. 

    South Carolina needs to play very well in order to win this game, but I have faith that they will.  However, if South Carolina plays lackluster offense, and tries to get too cute, Vanderbilt will be in this game until the very end.

Matchup Chart

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    Position South Carolina Advantage Even Vanderbilt Advantage
    Quarterback
      X
    Running Backs/Fullbacks X




    Wide Receivers X


     
    Offensive Line X



    Defensive Line X



    Linebackers


    X
    Defensive Backs


    X
    Special Teams X



    Coaching

    X

    At this point, Vanderbilt's Larry Smith is more efficient than Stephen Garcia. If this was based on talent alone, Garcia would have the advantage. But right now, Smith is playing better.  

    Vanderbilt's defensive backs are playing better than Carolina's as well. They lead the SEC in turnover margin, and have intercepted 10 passes. 

1. Run Lattimore and Ummm...Somebody...Often

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    OK, I said a second back, because God knows that Marcus Lattimore can't keep carrying the ball 35 times a game. 

    Kenny Miles is still on the team, and Bruce Ellington is a very interesting running choice (even out of the wildcat). 

    However, this team will go as Lattimore goes, and that doesn't make it a weakness. 

    It just shows how powerful the runner is. With South Carolina's offensive line playing very well, and Lattimore running stronger than ever, he could have a huge game.

    While we know that everyone wants to get Stephen Garcia and Alshon Jeffery going, this may not be  the week to do so, as Vandy sports a very formidable pass defense. It would be play silly to try to attack a team's strength. 

    This Vandy defense ranks tenth in the nation. It is no joke. Lattimore will be the best option, and he will be difficult to stop. 

2. Keep Larry Smith Contained

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    Larry Smith is a very underrated quarterback. He has an excellent arm and can make plays with his legs. South Carolina has already shown that they play out of control at times. Smith will make them pay if they don't hit him (and hit him often). 

    Don't open up too many running lanes for him, or you may see him add to his season total of two rushing touchdowns.

3. Win the Field Position Battle

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    Vanderbilt has struggled a bit when facing long drives in the past. South Carolina has a solid opportunity to sustain drives given the talents of the running game. If they can keep Vandy from getting good field position, it will make it much more difficult for the Commodores to score. 

4. Cause Disruption with the Defensive Line

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    Simple enough. Jadeveon Clowney, Melvin Ingram, Devin Taylor and company need to have a great disruptive game (which they will). 

    The Vanderbilt offense really isn't good. It's average at best, and Larry Smith is by far their best weapon, and we've already discussed him. 

    If South Carolina's "Big Three" can stuff him a few  times and keep running lanes from materializing, South Carolina will be just fine. 

5. Prepare for Another Close Slugfest

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    This isn't your dad's Vandy. This is an SEC caliber defense that is one or two offensive playmakers away from being dangerous in the East. 

    They are quickly becoming the Kentucky of the past...a dangerous sleeper team that can win 6-8 games in any given year.

    It should be a low scoring affair, and South Carolina will probably have to grit out another victory.

"Expert" Picks

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    Last week was the blow out that didn't happen. All three of our "experts" didn't really see this one being close. 

    LHD bounced back and was six points off for South Carolina and only five points off for Navy, for a total of 11 points off. 

    I struggled a bit this week and was off 14 points for South Carolina and three points for Navy.  That's 17 points off. 

    The guest for that week, Danny Drama (Multi-Team Columnist), was 14 points off for South Carolina and four points off for Navy. That is 18 points off. So as it stands:

    1.  Alex Roberts (3-0) +89

    2.  Guest Experts (3-0) +100

    3.  Leftover Hot Dog (3-0) +113

     

    This weeks guest is an SEC columnist named Jeremy Hillman.  An excellent writer, he recently wrote an article about Vandy's surprising start, which is a great read before this game. 

    This week's scores:

     

    My Score Prediction:

    South Carolina 21, Vanderbilt 10

     

    Leftover Hot Dog's Prediction:

    South Carolina 31, Vanderbilt 10

     

    Jeremy Hillman's Prediction:

    South Carolina 30, Vanderbilt 17

    He even went as far as to write a paragraph for me, which I will share. 

    "Vanderbilt is a good football team (better than most people expected at least) and well coached. However, they will have no real answer for Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery.

    The Commodores have been very good at turnover ratio, and if that continues this game could be even closer than I am predicting. However, at the end of the day, I see it being a Carolina win. No huge upset here".

     

    As always, it is great to be a Gamecock, and you can always fan me on Facebook!