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South Carolina vs. Vanderbilt: Game Grades, Analysis for the Gamecocks

Bryan Manning@bdmanning4Featured ColumnistSeptember 21, 2014

Dylan Thompson
Dylan ThompsonMark Humphrey/Associated Press

The No. 14 Gamecocks defeated the Vanderbilt Commodores 48-34 on Saturday in South Carolina's first road game of the season. 

It wasn't easy, however, as Vanderbilt jumped out to a 14-0 lead and dominated the first quarter. Vandy quarterback Patton Robinette got off to a quick start before exiting the game in the second quarter with an apparent head injury.

The Gamecocks never looked back.

Brison Williams' interception return for a touchdown just before halftime gave the 'Cocks their first lead. Quarterback Dylan Thompson was outstanding despite a shaky first quarter, completing 22 of 34 passes for 237 yards and three touchdowns. 

Here's a look at how each positional group fared on Saturday night in South Carolina's third straight victory.

South Carolina Gamecocks Game Grades
Position UnitFirst-Half GradeFinal Grade
Pass OffenseC+A
Rush OffenseB-B-
Pass DefenseB+B
Rush DefenseCC+
Special TeamsDD
CoachingB+B+
vs. Vanderbilt in Week 3

Pass Offense: Thompson struggled with his accuracy early, but once he settled down, the Commodores couldn't rattle him. He was especially efficient on third down despite Vanderbilt's consistent pressure. Overall, it was another strong performance for the senior.

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Rush Offense: Mike Davis didn't have his best game, but he was far from bad. He fumbled the ball twice, although it resulted in just one turnover. Surprisingly, Brandon Wilds only carried the ball three times. Pharoh Cooper ran for 74 yards—71 of them on one run. The Gamecocks as a team rushed for more than 200 yards. 

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

No. 14 South Carolina holds on in Nashville, beats Vanderbilt, 48-34. Gamecocks improve to 3-1 on season. http://t.co/4OzaB0D219

Pass Defense: This group fared well. It helped that Vanderbilt isn't settled at the quarterback position and Wade Freebeck was playing in his first extended action of his college career. Williams' interception before halftime changed the game for South Carolina.

Rush Defense: The Gamecocks continue to struggle against the run. They entered the game ranked No. 81 against the run and allowed 156 yards against Vandy. If the Commodores had not gotten behind so late, they would have likely continued to run with great success.

Special Teams: Outside of Elliott Fry's consistency, this wasn't a great night for the Gamecocks. They allowed two kickoffs to be returned for touchdowns. If the Gamecocks didn't allow those two touchdowns, this would likely have been a blowout. 

Coaching: Steve Spurrier did a great job calling plays—as usual. When Thompson was struggling with his accuracy early, Spurrier called for shorter routes that got Cooper involved in the offense. Cooper excels at yards after the catch. Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward did a good job of pressuring the Vanderbilt quarterbacks all night. 

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