What a day! Finally, in a game where both teams came in afraid of putting together a sub par performance, the Commodores pulled it all together in a stifling, if not dominating show. Coming one week after scoring 17 points in the first half before allowing Georgia to come back and seal the victory as time ran out, the ‘Dores again scored 17 early points, but a punishing performance by the defense didn’t allow South Carolina to break the goal line once in the game.
It was assumed in the beginning of the season that, like the past several years, the Vandy squad would be another high-offense team. The defense looked to be improved, but the question still remained: could they keep us in the games? Saturday’s game showed that despite the letdowns offensively, the defense has taken it upon themselves to carry the ‘Dores on their shoulders. Behind solid efforts on both the line and in the secondary, the South Carolina offense was left with little to show for the game. Anytime they worked a drive together, they would be stopped by a fumble or interception. Unlike many past games, the guys in black and gold were at their best on 3rd down, leading to a pitiful conversion percentage for the Gamecocks. Despite trying to use both of his quarterbacks during the game, the Ole Ball Coach was unable to get anything going. Six points off of field goals is not the standard operating procedure for Steve Spurrier!
Although the stars of the day belonged to the Vanderbilt defense, the offense took advantage of some early opportunities and got two big touchdown passes out of new starting quarterback Mackenzi Adams. Although nobody would say his results were perfect, the offense was able to put together solid drives even when they didn’t result in points. This allowed the defense to get some rest and come out ready to keep their smothering pressure on the South Carolina offense.
The second half turned into a field position game, and the Commodores definitely came out ahead, with their drives normally keeping them around midfield, while the Gamecocks often struggled to get past their own 30.
This game has brought a resurgence of hope to the Commodore faithful. Despite the past disappointments, the team is now sitting at 4-3 and will hopefully use this game (which was the first time they had beaten a team ranked this highly since 1937) as a springboard into the rest of the season. With their next game coming against a respectable Miami of Ohio club, the ‘Dores will have to come out and show that they can continue to play with the same intensity they showed this weekend for the rest of the season. Only with top-quality efforts will we be able to pull out victories against some of our historically toughest opponents, such as Florida and Tennessee.
We have gotten off to a good start on the second half of our season, let’s keep the momentum going!