USC Gamecocks Football

USC-Vanderbilt report card: Bounce-back effort makes the grade

Three things we learned from the Gamecocks victory over Vanderbilt

Here are three things we learned from the South Carolina Gamecocks' 37-14 win over Vanderbilt.
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Here are three things we learned from the South Carolina Gamecocks' 37-14 win over Vanderbilt.

With South Carolina football’s 37-14 win against the Vanderbilt Commodores in the books, it’s time to grade the Gamecocks.


Was there a play where Jake Bentley underestimated a linebacker in zone’s leaping ability? Yes. But he hit 19 of 28 passes. He had 261 yards, including a set of deep strikes to Shi Smith and a dart to Bryan Edwards. Then throw in leading the offense to a banner day and running for 45 yards, you’ll take it.

Grade: A-

Running backs

As the weeks went on, Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp went from blaming his line for a sub-par running day against Georgia to challenging his backs. They stepped up, with the trio of Rico Dowdle, Ty’Son Williams and A.J. Turner combining for 224 yards at 6.2 per pop. The two fumbles in the rain were concerning.

Grade: A-

Wide receivers

Shi Smith posted easily his best career day, and to the naked eye it looked as if his two biggest plays were him just throwing good moves in one-on-one coverage. Deebo Samuel got a lot of work, while Edwards had a solid game. A few backups got targets.

Grade: B+

Tight ends

The run blocking overall seemed good, but the pass game didn’t focus on them too much. K.C. Crosby, who left the game with an injury, and Kiel Pollard each caught first-down passes, and the ground game certainly looked well-blocked.

Grade: B

Offensive line

The group felt challenged after Georgia. They laid waste to a Vanderbilt, plowing the way for 273 rushing yards at 5.7 per carry. Jake Bentley was hardly pressured and only sacked once. Overall a good day.

Grade: A

Defensive line

This group caused some havoc. Javon Kinlaw had two sacks. Bryson Allen-Williams added a hurry. There were some issues against the run early, as Jamauri Wakefield got 5.1 yards per carry, but in the end the Gamecocks shut that down too.

Grade: A-


There was a spate of tackling issues that led to five 10-yard runs and let Vanderbilt move the ball for stretches. There was also bad blown coverage from what looked like Sherrod Greene that set up one of the Commodore touchdowns.

Grade: C-

Defensive backs

Facing a potential NFL quarterback, the Gamecocks forced Kyle Shurmur into a 18 for 38 day, which included a pick and 4.7 yards per attempt. There might have been a few rocky moments, but considering top cornerback Rashad Fenton missed much of the game, it was a pretty good game.

Grade: A-

Special teams

Parker White went 3 of 3 on field goals, all inside 37 yards. He didn’t get many touchbacks, but only one Vandy drive that started with a kickoff began past the 25. Punter Joseph Charlton put two of three punts inside the 20. The return game didn’t yield much, but neither did Vandy’s.

Grade: B+


There were probably enough miscues and points left on the field to earn a B+ (USC could’ve probably scored 50 if it was more on point). But one also has to factor in the moment. Gamecocks fans and players had to stew on the Georgia loss for an extra week. Coming out with a big offensive day and comfortable win carried weight beyond just the result on the field.

Grade: A-

South Carolina Gamecocks football coach Will Muschamp breaks down his team's 37-14 victory in Nashville against the Vanderbilt Commodores on September, 22, 2018.