How did the South Carolina perform vs. Vanderbilt
Oct. 17, 2021
The Gamecocks’ were able to pull out a 21-20 win over Vanderbilt on Saturday closing minutes of the Game. Yes their where heroes but also not. Here's a look of positive and negatives takeaways.
DL Zacch Pickens: The former five-star recruit played like a five star Saturday on the defensive line for the Gamecocks', leading the team with seven while also recording a sack and two QB hurries. The junior made his mark late in the first quarter on a fourth-and-goal attempt by Vanderbilt. Pickens stuffed running back Rocko Griffin with a massive hit one yard behind the line of scrimmage.
QB Zeb Noland: O, so close to suffering a loss to Vanderbilt, if it was not for the heroic’s of Zeb. He was inserted into the game at the 1:36 mark in the 4th quarter; QB Luke Doty threw two fourth quarter interceptions while the Gamecocks fell behind 20-14 to Vanderbilt. This is how the final 1:36 played out. Noland delivered immediately, connecting on five of eight passes for 75 yards and throwing a game-winning touchdown to receiver Xavier Legette with just 37 seconds left on the clock.
TE Jaheim Bell: OC Marcus Satterfield had said earlier in the week that the versatile tight end Bell is one of the team’s most dynamic runners in space and that the Gamecocks wanted to get him the ball more. Gamecocks where able accomplished that mission early, passing to Bell on the very first play of the game and using him frequently in the screen game. Bell made his biggest play late in the first quarter on an explosive 82-yard touchdown reception. Bell caught the ball near midfield then raced to the end zone, stiff-arming a Vanderbilt defender to set up the score. However Bell did fumble the ball in the second half after a 28-yard catch and run, ending a very promising drive. Bell finished for the day with a team-leading 136 yards on six catches.
RB ZaQuandre White: His last carry was Week 3 at Georgia till this Saturday, White in the second half of the game and emerged as the Gamecocks leading rusher after only a handful of carries. Juju was ruled out shortly before the game, and Harris didn’t carry the ball in the second half after running the ball six times for 35 yards in the first half. Harris was injured in first half. White finished with 65 yards on 12 carries.
QB Luke Doty: The game started out good for Doty, who had thrown a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter. In the second half, Doty started to struggle with overthrows receivers, missing a couple of wide-open targets for first downs. Those overthrowing issues bit Doty and the Gamecocks in a major way in the fourth quarter, allowing Vanderbilt to take a six point lead. When Doty threw two interceptions to give the ball right back to the Commodores. Doty had only thrown one interception on the season before Saturday’s game. Doty finished with 242 passing yards Doty was replaced by Noland on the game’s final drive of the game that gave the Gamecocks a victory.
Pass-blocking: Miscommunication along the offensive line has been big issue for most of the season. The line did a solid job of opening up running lanes; it also left QB Luke Doty vulnerable on more than one occasion. Example, On a particularly play late in the first half, both Eric Douglas and Jovaughn Gwyn blocked the same Vanderbilt lineman, giving linebacker Anfernee Orji a clear shot at Doty. Orji landed a sack, and Doty was originally ruled to have fumbled the ball, but after a review, he was penalized instead for intentional grounding.
The secondary: Vanderbilt hadn’t produced a play of more than 40 yards all season, but in the first quarter alone, the Gamecocks allowed passes of 44 yards and 50 yards to receivers Cam Johnson and Will Sheppard, both receivers flying past the Gamecock defense. Those passes came from the right arm of Vanderbilt’s second-string quarterback, sophomore QB Mike Wright, who filled in for injured starter Ken Seals. In the third quarter, cornerback Darius Rush missed a tackle on Sheppard, allowing him to break free for a 52-yard score.
Offensive game plan: another failure offensively and finish drives, the Gamecocks seemingly made the adjustments early on against Vanderbilt. The Gamecocks marched down the field on their opening drive, highlighted by a 25-yard catch by WR Josh Vann, and a long touchdown pass to TE Bell gave the Gamecocks at that time a 14-3 lead with 5:07 to play in the first quarter. But after that the Gamecocks could never seem to click afterward. In a key moment, Gamecocks went for a 4th-and-4 play at the Vanderbilt 13-yard-line in the second quarter, opting to push for a touchdown instead of kicking a field goal which nearly cost them the game if not for QB Zeb's last minute drive. Doty threw the ball behind the sticks, the Gamecocks turned over on downs, and Vanderbilt proceeded to climb back into the game and take a lead.