South Carolina offensive lineman Zack Bailey looked pretty pleased as he sat in a news conference following South Carolina’s 34-27 win against Vanderbilt.
He didn’t take long to confirm it.
“I felt good,” Bailey said. “This is a game I love. This is my passion. This is a game I take very seriously. So sitting on the sidelines, sitting at home, it was a struggle for me.”
Bailey had just returned to his customary right tackle spot after a three-game absence. The group played well, paving the way for 200-plus rushing yards. He’d been solid in pass protection outside one instance.
And he got another bonus in the return.
“It’s a lot of stress,” Bailey said. “So getting the pads out, hitting other players, not my teammates, but other players how I want to hit, really helped out my stress levels.”
It wasn’t a 100 percent healthy night: Guard Cory Helms returned to the lineup but quickly exited with a problem with the right ankle that knocked him out for an extended period. As happened when he first went out, Donell Stanley switched from left to right and Sadarius Hutcherson went in.
USC’s other injuries were linebacker Sherrod Greene missing the game with a thigh issue (he was a game-time decision and will be available next week) and Dennis Daley, who had to leave late in the game but was all right.
Jake on the run
South Carolina’s offensive coaching staff took the reins off quarterback Jake Bentley as a runner, and he produced.
He galloped 47 yards on his six carries, scoring from 19 and 11 yards out. Some of that was scrambling, but there were several designed runs, including the ones that gave him his first college scores on the ground.
He was a solid runner in his one starting season in high school, and said he’s effective despite some critics of his style.
“All the guys were making fun of me, saying it was the slowest juke move they’ve ever seen,” Bentley said. “I don’t care. It worked.”
South Carolina’s run of winning the coin flip every game came to an end. The Commodores won and took the ball to start, which USC had done in all previous games.
In USC’s first opening possession, going second, the Gamecocks marched 75 yards in four plays for a touchdown.
Montac to the rescue
Safety Steven Montac saw the field a lot down the stretch, starting when nickel Jamyest Williams was beaten badly inside on a short touchdown.
Will Muschamp said in no uncertain terms that Williams didn’t do some of the fundamental things the defense asked on the 8-yard pass.
Montac at safety allowed Chris Lammons to work more at nickel. Montac pulled in his first career interception, while Lammons broke up two passes and led the team in tackles.
▪ Defensive end D.J. Wonnum blocked an extra point in the second quarter. It was the first blocked kick of his college career.
▪ Official attendance was 78,992.
▪ South Carolina wore black jerseys with white pants and helmets.
▪ USC’s captains were Alan Knott, Chris Lammons, Hayden Hurst and Ulric Jones.