Columbia, SC (Sports Network) - Attempting to rebound from a tough loss at
nationally-ranked Georgia last week, the 13th-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks
return home for another SEC East Division showdown, this time against the
Vanderbilt was arguably the biggest surprise in the conference last season
(9-4, 5-3 SEC), but after closing out 2012 with seven straight wins, it began
the 2013 campaign with a crushing 39-35 defeat to Ole Miss. Luckily for the
Commodores, they bounced back last week with an easy 38-3 win over FCS foe
Austin Peay. Vandy has not defeated a ranked team since beating the Gamecocks
"We are excited about playing South Carolina this week," Vanderbilt head coach
James Franklin said. "I have tremendous respect for coach Spurrier and how
he's done it."
South Carolina started the season off on the right foot by beating border
rival North Carolina, 27-10. The Gamecocks took on Georgia in Athens last week
in a bout that could very well determine the SEC East's representative in the
conference championship game, and after going into the half tied, they lost
control late to lose, 41-30.
"It was pretty obvious that Georgia was the stronger of the two teams out
there today," head coach Steve Spurrier said. "They kicked our tails up and
down the field, we couldn't stop them and they made a bunch of third-down
South Carolina has a firm handle on the all-time series with Vanderbilt,
winning 18 of 22 bouts, including 17-13 last season.
The Vanderbilt offense has been outstanding, scoring 35 points or more in both
games this season, while displaying a nice balance between the pass (286.5
ypg) and the run (147.5 ypg).
The Commodores' most talented playmaker is First Team All-SEC wide receiver
Jordan Matthews, who has racked up 100-yard receiving games in back-to-back
outings (giving him 12 for his career). He has 16 receptions for 289 yards
(third in the nation) and a pair of touchdowns.
Delivering the ball to Matthews is Austyn Carta-Samuels, who has thrown for
523 yards and three touchdowns, although he has completed fewer than 61
percent of his passes and had tossed a pair of interceptions as well. The
signal caller is also a threat with his legs, rushing for a pair of scores.
Jerron Seymour (84 yards, two TDs), Brian Kimbrow (78 yards, TD) and Wesley
Tate (56 yards, two TDs) have shared carries out of the backfield to positive
Despite blowing a late lead to Ole Miss in the opener, the Commodores defense
(21.0 ppg, 314.0 ypg) is still off to a strong start and is expected to once
again be one of the better units in the SEC.
Andre Hal (11 tackles, three passes defended), Javon Marshall (11 tackles),
Kenny Ladler (10 tackles) and Kyle Woestmann (two sacks) anchor the group. The
team has forced just one turnover through two games.
South Carolina's offense has impressed in the early going, scoring 28.5 ppg on
430.0 ypg, although it fell quiet in the second half against Georgia with just
Connor Shaw is a capable dual-threat option at quarterback, throwing for 377
yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 118 yards. While he has yet to
throw an interception, he lost a costly fumble in the third quarter of last
week's contest which shifted the momentum.
"I thought I was down, thought my knee was down, but there's no excuse for
that," Shaw said after the Georgia loss. "I tried to make a guy miss and they
punched it out from behind. That's going to stick with me for a little bit,
but somehow we have to get over this loss and bounce back next week."
Mike Davis has assumed the full-time tailback job this season and has
responded extremely well, rushing for 264 yards on 28 carries (9.4 ypc) while
plunging into the end zone twice.
At receiver, Nick Jones (10 receptions, 118 yards, two TDs) acts as Shaw's
favorite target with regard to moving the chains, while Shaq Roland (five
receptions, 123 yards, TD) is the team's big-play threat.
The Gamecocks defense (25.5 ppg, 414.5 ypg) came into the season with a lot
of hype thanks in large part to the return of star Jadeveon Clowney, but they
were torched by Aaron Murray and the Bulldogs last weekend to the tune of 536
T.J. Gurley is one of the conference's top tacklers with 20 stops. Clowney's
season has gotten off to a slow start by his lofty standards, as he has just
2.0 TFL and one sack, but he's also picked up three QB hurries.
"The biggest thing is to be aware of him," Franklin said of Clowney. "He is
going to have an impact in the game, but what you can't afford him to do is
have a huge impact on the game."
The Sports Network