The Vanderbilt Commodores (2-4) travel to Columbia to take on the South Carolina Gamecocks (3-3) on Saturday. Here are the three keys to a Vandy win.
By Steve Wright
1 – Don’t turn it over
The South Carolina defense has been living on the big play and it has had plenty of them. This is the team that leads the SEC in takeaways with 14 on the year and their defensive backs in particular are always looking to change field position with a turnover. The Vanderbilt offense lacks explosion, but it is clearly improving game by game. If it can get the running effort it did against Stanford and the passing attack that showed up against UConn then there is more than enough talent to move the ball and create scoring chances.
2 – Make Luke Doty win the game
South Carolina quarterback Luke Doty started the season injured and has never looked right. He completed less than 60% of his passes and has thrown for just 733 yards and three touchdowns in four starts. Taking wide receiver Josh Vann out of the passing attack – he has 19 catches for 355 yards and a pair of scores – and there is little other threat downfield. Vandy is last in the SEC in pass defense at over 250 yards per game, but Doty hasn’t shown enough to look like a threat.
3 – Get a lead
Vanderbilt has yet to score in an SEC game this season. Admittedly the ‘Dores have only played two of them and they were against Georgia and Florida, but it is still something that will be playing on the minds of the players. South Carolina is expected to win this so Vandy’s best chance of a win is to score early and provide scoreboard pressure. The Commodores aren’t going to run away and hide with a hat full of first-half points, but they can sneak this by staying in the contest until late in the fourth and pouncing.