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GAMECOCK-GAMEDAY THREAD: ***South Carolina vs Vanderbilt***

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South Carolina vs. Vanderbilt SEC Network to Televise September 22 Contest from Nashville at 4:00 pm ET

Sept. 22, 2018

South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Vanderbilt Commodores

Game info

Who: South Carolina (1-1, 0-1 SEC) at Vanderbilt (2-1, 0-0)

When: 4 p.m. Saturday

Where: Vanderbilt Stadium (39,790)

TV: SEC Network (Taylor Zarzour, play-by-play; Matt Stinchcomb, analysis; Kris Budden, sideline)

Radio: 107.5 FM (Todd Ellis, play-by-play; Tommy Suggs, analysis; Langston Moore, sideline) ... See all the radio affiliates around the state here.

Satellite radio: Sirius 106/XM 384

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YOU ARE LOOKING LIVE: The South Carolina Gamecocks (1-1, 0-1 SEC) go on the road for the first time this season when they travel to Nashville, Tenn. to face the Vanderbilt Commodores (2-1, 0-0 SEC) in an SEC Eastern Division matchup. Game time is set for 4 pm ET from Vanderbilt Stadium (39,790).
 
TV COVERAGE: SEC Network has the telecast for this week's contest. Taylor Zarzour will handle the play-by-play with Matt Stinchcomb serving as the analyst. Kris Budden will work the sidelines.
 
A HISTORY LESSON: 2018 marks the 125th season of intercollegiate football at South Carolina. It is the 112th-consecutive year in which South Carolina has competed on the gridiron. The University did not field a team in either 1893 or 1906. Carolina owns an all-time record of 602-574-44.
 
SEC HISTORY: The South Carolina Gamecocks are in their 27th year in the Southeastern Conference. Carolina and Arkansas joined the league prior to the 1992 campaign. The Gamecocks earned their lone SEC Eastern Division title in 2010. The Gamecocks are 90-118-1 (.433) all-time in SEC regular-season play, but are 35-30 (.538) in conference action since the start of the 2010 season. With a 5-3 mark and sole possession of second place in the SEC East in 2017, the Gamecocks won five or more conference games for just the eighth time in 26 years since joining the SEC.
 
CAROLINA VS. VANDY: This is the 28th all-time meeting between South Carolina and Vanderbilt, with the Gamecocks holding a commanding 23-4 advantage, including a 12-2 record when the games have been played in Nashville and an 11-2 mark when the teams have met in Columbia. The teams met just once (1961) before they became SEC Eastern Division rivals beginning in 1992, and have met every year since.

Q&A on Vanderbilt: Five things to know about South Carolina’s opponent

Adam Sparks, the Vanderbilt beat writer for The Tennessean, took time this week to answer a few of our questions about the Commodores as they prepare for Saturday’s game with South Carolina.

Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. at Vanderbilt Stadium.

1. Vanderbilt’s undefeated start to the season ended last week with a narrow defeat at eighth-ranked Notre Dame. What do you learn about the Commodores in South Bend that perhaps you didn’t know about them prior to that trip?

Not a lot in terms of schematics or personnel. QB Kyle Shurmur, WR Kalija Lipscomb and TE Jared Pinkney are weapons. The defense has some depth and athleticism. I knew those things before that game, but I learned it that they could perform at a higher level than I previously knew.

Vandy started badly, tackled poorly early on and squandered two TDs with miscues at the goal line. But it still went toe-to-toe with the Fighting Irish on the road. It showed that Vanderbilt’s ceiling perhaps is higher than once thought, but only time will tell if that’s the case.

2. Vandy’s been to one bowl game in four-plus seasons under Coach Derek Mason. How would you assess the Commodores’ performance under Mason? Is this his best team yet?

Mason’s record (20-32) is not very good, but Vanderbilt coaches are judged differently than at other SEC schools. Historically, almost every coach over the past century, aside from James Franklin, has faced tough odds at Vandy. There are just a lot of challenges to winning that would take a few days to go through.

That being said, Mason has had his ups and downs. He upset Georgia and beat No. 24 Tennessee in 2016 en route to a bowl, beat No. 18 Kansas State last season and owns a 2-2 record versus the rival Vols. But this is a year when the Commodores need to show progress. So far, so good.

This may be Mason’s most complete team, but that could look different after a few SEC games to better judge it. Two big differences from past seasons is that Vandy has more depth on defense and, most importantly, a very good, NFL-caliber, four-year starting quarterback in Kyle Shurmur. Those don’t grow on trees around Vanderbilt.

3. A four-year starter, Vandy quarterback Kyle Shurmur is as experienced as any at his position in the SEC. Where have you seen that experience pay off the most this season?

The obvious pluses on Shurmur are arm strength, competitive fire and experience. He’s got a good football pedigree (son of New York Giants coach Pat Shurmur and great-nephew of longtime NFL defensive coordinator Fritz Shurmur; also, Kyle’s mom was a Big Ten champion swimmer at Michigan State).

But in terms of other intangibles, Shurmur has a great grasp of the offense. I think if offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig got stuck in traffic, he would feel comfortable letting Shurmur call all the plays for a game. Ludwig has often said that many of Vandy’s best running plays were those that Shurmur checked into at the line of scrimmage.

4. Shumur’s favorite target this season has been Kalija Lipscomb. The SEC’s leader in receptions was targeted 18 times in the Notre Dame game. Anyone else stick out among the Vandy receiving corps?

If you count tight ends, then Jared Pinkney is very notable. He leads all FBS tight ends in receiving yards (241 in 3 games). Pinkney will split out when Vandy is in a four-wide set, or he’ll run a route off the line. If South Carolina allows Pinkney to get a free release off the line, Shurmur will look for him on routes of 20 yards or more down the field.

In terms of wide receivers, there are a lot of contenders for the No. 2 spot. Donaven Tennyson is a deep threat, but he had a costly dropped pass on a short route last week. Sophomore Chris Pierce has some potential. True freshman Cam Johnson and C.J. Bolar have a lot of good football ahead of them, but can they do it against SEC competition this week? Not sure. We’ll see.

 

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