Five gameday storylines for Saturday's SEC battle between South Carolina and Vanderbilt.
Movable Object vs. Stoppable Force
The matchup between South Carolina’s passing defense and Vanderbilt’s passing offense is the SEC version of a pillow fight.
Commodores quarterback Larry Smith has struggled with his consistency, and Vanderbilt is 101st in the nation in passing (162.5 yards per game). The Gamecocks’ pass defense, of course, has been no better. South Carolina is 110th in the nation against the pass (270.8 yards per game allowed).
The Gamecocks have promised changes, which probably means more man-to-man defense Saturday.
Latti-more or Less?
Freshman tailback Marcus Lattimore missed most of the second half against Kentucky with a sprained ankle and didn’t return to the practice field in a regular uniform until Thursday. He isn’t expected to start, but it looks like he could play some.
Lattimore needs just five more touchdowns this season to set South Carolina’s single-season record. He has 12 through six games. Harold Green currently holds the record at 16, set in 1987. George Rogers’ 14 scores in 1980 are second, and Sidney Rice’s 13 touchdowns in 2005 are third.
Lattimore is in a six-way tie for fourth.
Vanderbilt has allowed 15 sacks this season, more than all but two teams in the SEC. That could be bad news for the Commodores considering how well the Gamecocks are getting after opposing quarterbacks. South Carolina’s 22 sacks are second in the nation behind only Florida State, which has 30.
South Carolina junior quarterback Stephen Garcia is on a roll.
He is coming off a career-high 382 yards passing, and he has thrown 10 touchdowns in his last four games, the best four-game stretch of his career. Last week, he became the sixth Gamecock to surpass 5,000 career passing yards.
He needs 633 more yards to move into fifth-place in school history in passing yardage.
On the road again
It looked like South Carolina finally would snap its SEC road losing streak last week, but you know how that ended. The Gamecocks have now lost seven straight conference road games dating back to 2008.
“We have to play well on the road,” Spurrier said. “I don’t have the answer for the road woes. We don’t have any excuses.”
South Carolina hasn’t won a road game of any variety since the first game of 2009 at N.C. State.