After writing all week about the Gamecocks’ quarterbacks, I’m going to try to make it through this blog without mentioning any of their names.
It’s not that they’re not important, I’ve just reached keyboard overload typing in the same facts and figures this week on that guy from Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Faithful blog readers (big shout-out to you, Dad) will note that I’m 1-0 on these predictions, although I missed the N.C. State score by a fairly wide margin. I thought the Wolfies would have a little more firepower, but the loss of their QB and that suffocating Gamecocks’ D took the starch out of them.
I’m not so sure Vandy will fare much better offensively. Quarterback Chris Nickson is more dangerous than the Wolfpack’s Russell Martin, but Nickson has watched many of the Commodores’ skilled-position players go down around him.
Vandy has three receivers who will miss the game, and starting tailback Jeff Jennings is doubtful with a shoulder injury. And All-SEC receiver Earl Bennett is no longer around.
The ‘Dores didn’t exactly run it up on USC last season in their 17-6 win in Columbia. They did it with defense, which looks like it will have to be the blueprint again if they are to slay Steve Spurrier a second straight year.
The difference this year is that many of Vandy’s top defensive playmakers have moved on, with the notable exception of Spartanburg’s own D.J. Moore, arguably the SEC’s top corner.
So it will come down, as it usually does, to how the Gamecocks’ O-line plays. The linemen were embarrassed last year by Vandy, and Spurrier has threatened to do so himself Thursday if any of them jump offsides.
My hunch is the line will answer the call and do a good job protecting the guy whose last name rhymes with Nelly. Said quarterback won’t be perfect as he was in the fourth quarter against N.C. State, but he’ll be plenty good enough. Whoa, Nelly.
Prediction: USC 30, Vandy 13