First things first: Javon Kinlaw is going to be OK.
South Carolina’s junior defensive tackle had a monster Saturday afternoon in helping USC’s 37-14 rout of Vanderbilt, but he didn’t finish the game because of an apparent injury. He’s fine, said Will Muschamp.
“He’s been cleared,” said the Carolina coach. “He got stepped on.”
So expect Kinlaw back next week when the Gamecocks head to Lexington to try to break a four-game losing streak against Kentucky. He’ll be needed.
The 6-foot-6, 305-pounder was a menace against the Commodores. Of his five tackles, three went for loss, including two sacks. He also broke up a pass, forced a couple fumbles and was twice credited with a quarterback hurry.
“At the end of the day,” Muchamp said, “it’s very hard to chip an inside guy. You can chip on the edges. It’s hard to gain help if you can direct the protections the right way.
“So it’s our job as coaches to get him in 1-on-1 matchups. That’s what we try to do.”
Kinlaw, who’s continued to slim down since arriving to USC from junior college as a 340-pounder, is making his case for All-SEC consideration. Through three games, he leads the Gamecocks with 4.5 tackles for loss.
The big man still eats, though. He came to Saturday’s post-game media session with a Fruit Roll-Up in hand.
“I prepare the right way,” Kinlaw said, “so I feel like when you prepare the right way, good things happen.”
A different kind of delay
A week after having a game canceled because of Hurricane Florence, South Carolina was again impacted by severe weather.
The Gamecocks were leading the Commodores, 30-14, with 3:03 remaining in the third quarter when lightning was detected in the area, causing both teams to leave the field and for spectators to exit the stadium.
The delay lasted 39 minutes.
Early and often became a theme for the Gamecocks on Saturday. Some notable examples:
▪ South Carolina had two scoring drives in the first half that went for 60-plus yards in four plays or fewer. That had never happened in the Muschamp era.
▪ USC went 75 yards on three plays to take a 7-0 lead less than a minute into the first quarter. The Gamecocks have now scored a touchdown on their first possession twice in three games this season.
▪ Parker White’s 35-yard field goal as the second quarter expired gave Carolina a 20-14 halftime lead. The 20 points are the most USC’s scored in the first half of a road game under Muschamp.
Garnet, black and silver
Vanderbilt listed 26,078 for its official attendance, though most of the fans were gone after the weather delay.
Commodore coach Derek Mason, speaking during his Tuesday news conference, called on everybody from Vandy students to faculty members to Nashville city residents to come out for Vandy’s first game since an inspired effort last week at No. 8 Notre Dame. At kickoff, however, the scene featured chunks of empty bleachers and a good smattering of USC fans.