Josh Kendall

Kendall’s pick: Expect Gamecocks to respond well this week

There’s still a game to play.

If you’re like me, you’ve forgotten that at times this week. South Carolina takes on Vanderbilt on Saturday, and Steve Spurrier won’t be on the sideline for the first time since 2004.

It’s the Shawn Elliott Show now, and this is a pretty good opener as midseason coaching debuts go. The Commodores are struggling. They have only beaten Austin Peay and Middle Tennessee State this year and have yet to win an SEC game under second-year head coach Derek Mason.

What Mason has done well is coach the defense. He took over that duty in the offseason, and the Commodores are fifth in the SEC in yards allowed at 320 per game. It will be a good test for a new South Carolina offense under G.A. Mangus’ direction. The Gamecocks could have all three of this season’s starting quarterbacks at their disposal, which will make for some interesting decisions.

Does Mangus want to go with a zone read base if Lorenzo Nunez is healthy? Could Connor Mitch return and give South Carolina a more balanced attack? Or is it going to be the Perry Orth show for one more week as Mitch and Nunez give their injured shoulders one more week to heal. (It would actually be two more weeks of recuperation for each of them because of next week’s open date.)

Las Vegas thinks Spurrier’s abrupt resignation hurts the Gamecocks. The line on this game dropped from seven points in favor of South Carolina before Spurrier resigned to three after the announcement, but I think it’s probably a benefit to the Gamecocks in the short term. The long term? That’s a conversation for another day.

Prediction: South Carolina 28, Vanderbilt 10