Here’s what we learned from No. 9 South Carolina’s 17-13 win over Vanderbilt on Thursday night.
No. 9 SOUTH CAROLINA
1. The passing game has a long way to go
The Gamecocks had a tough time trying to throw the ball on Thursday. Obviously, an arm/shoulder injury to starting quarterback Connor Shaw did not help South Carolina’s cause, but even before the injury the Gamecocks were not effective through the air. Shaw did return and was effective (7 of 11, 67 yards) but he was better on the ground than in the air. The play selection from Steve Spurrier’s team showed just one dimensional the Gamecocks were tonight: 45 rushes, 15 passes.
2. Shaw is a very tough guy
Connor Shaw returned from an injury that looked like it might keep him out of the game and helped lead his team back for a come from behind win on the road. He ran for 92 yards and threw for 67 more yards. Spurrier has to be happy that he has finally found a resilient leader that appears ready to lead his football team through thick and thin. Stephen Garcia did not show the same traits over the last few seasons.
3. Marcus Lattimore is healthy & a Heisman Trophy threat
Lattimore quietly ran for 109 yards and two touchdowns in this game, but his numbers and his ability to cut showed that he is either 100% healthy or very near it. I had him ranked No. 2 in my preseason Heisman watch and his 130 total yards does nothing to change my mind on his ability to win the award.
1. A Big NO Call Cost the ‘Dores
The referees missed a potential pass interference call late in this game that would have set Vanderbilt up with a chance to win this game late. It is important to remember that Vanderbilt would have had a chance and that it would not have been a sure thing that the ‘Dores would have scored.
2. Rodgers, Stacy, & Matthews are an Underrated Trio in SEC
Quarterback Jordan Rodgers, running back Zac Stacy, and wide receiver Jordan Matthews are an impressive trio that will irritate SEC defenses all year long. Matthews (147 yards) and Stacy (47 yards) had decent nights against one of the conference’s best defenses.
3. Vanderbilt continues to improve
Head coach James Franklin has to be excited by the progress his program is showing. Vanderbilt watched its quarterback, Rodgers, throw a terrible interception that ended a hot start by the home team. All of a sudden the score was 10-0 Gamecocks. Everyone had seen this story before, but this time Vanderbilt continued to fight instead of laying down and being blown out. Vandy took a 13-10 lead in the second half, which showed that this team can overcome the bad breaks that have plagued Vanderbilt blowouts in the past.