The Commodores have had a week to reflect back on an unlikely upset win at home to Mizzou last time out. They face a South Carolina squad reeling after a 41-21 beat down at the hands of Tennessee last Saturday.
By Steve Wright
Here are the three keys:
Feed Ke’Shawn Vaughn
It is painfully obvious at this point that Vanderbilt doesn’t have a ton going well on offense. What the ‘Dores do have is Illinois transfer Ke’Shawn Vaughn, a player who should see the ball at least 25 times on Saturday if Vandy wants to pull off a second straight upset.
Vaughn is second in the SEC in rushing and he averages over 100 yards per game. Vandy have only had 11 plays all season go from more than 10 yards, so feeding Vaughn early and often is the best shot this team has to put points on the ball.
The health of Mo Hasan
You could have got some pretty long odds at the start of the season that the best work done by a Vandy QB by the end of November would have come from an unrecruited walk-on. That, though, is the exact situation we find ourselves in after Mo Hasan went 7-of-11 for 120 yards and a touchdown in two and a bit quarters of work against the Tigers.
Hasan wasn’t supposed to be anywhere near the starting gig, but now Derek Mason would love to have the chance to start him again over Riley Neal. The head injury is a concern, so look for updates on Hasan’s status throughout the week.
This is a South Carolina team that is clearly vulnerable, albeit one that is better at home than on the road. Freshman quarterback Ryan Hilinski has played well at times in relief of Jake Bentley, but he has also had some very bad games and series along the way. Turnovers will be massive in this game because if Vanderbilt can get a score or two up early and create some doubt in the minds of Hilinski and his teammates then they could fold in a way similar to what happened against Tennessee last weekend.