Another top-10 shakeup
COLUMBIA, S.C.-- Is this a surprise? It shouldn't be-- not if you've followed college football this season. I don't think many in Columbia considered the Gamecocks a top 10 team. A close call against UNC and now a loss to Vanderbilt has confirmed it.
Vanderbilt outplayed the Gamecocks for four quarters. The Commodores dominated the line of scrimmage, pressured the Gamecocks quarterbacks all game and came up with the big plays when they needed to. In short, they didn't play like road underdogs.
The No. 6 Gamecocks were the highest opponent the Commodores have beaten since they beat No. 6 LSU in 1937.
"We've won some big games on the road," Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson said. "We beat Georgia last year. We beat Arkansas and Tennessee the year before. Those wins don't guarantee you (anything). You have to come out and play every week."
Vandy could have folded when quarterback Mackenzie Adams fumbled deep in Gamecocks territory early in the fourth quarter. But the Commodores defense came out and got two sacks to force a South Carolina punt.
"It feels pretty good," defensive back D.J. Moore said. "Besides them being the No. 6 team in the country, we're trying to get to a bowl game. We haven't done that in a while."
Spurrier's decision to play Blake Mitchell had little impact. Neither he nor Chris Smelley were able to establish a rythym. Vandy finished with seven sacks.
Spurrier bemoaned his offensive line's play against UNC. It was worse Saturday, compunded by the Commodores constant pressure.
"It's all on us," said USC center Web Brown. "That's something we take pride in. You go out and have a day like today, you feel like you let the team down."
The only bright spot for South Carolina was its defense, which didn't allow Vandy a point after it jumped out to a 17-0 lead after the first quarter. Still, Gamecocks defenders were left thinking they could have done more.
"We should have forced more turnovers and gotten our offense the ball a lot more," defensive end Eric Norwood said.
Spurrier and Co. may not have done much with extra possessions. Rotating quarterbacks didn't work, nor did the ground game, although the Gamecocks backs had success in limited carries.
Spurrier said he would have handed them the ball more if he could do it over.
He won't get that shot. The Gamecocks are the latest top 10 victim.
It was in the air from the start.
Player of the Game: Vanderbilt quarterback Mackenzi Adams turned in a solid performance in the face of a tough defense on the road. He was an efficient 7 of 13 for 118 yards passing, with two touchdowns, and also ran nine times for 67 yards.
Play of the Game: With the Gamecocks driving in the fourth quarter with plenty of time to mount a comeback, Vandy defensive back D.J. Moore, a South Carolina native, intercepted a Chris Smelley pass in the end zone. Vanderbilt took over with 7:40 left, and the Gamecocks never got near the end zone again.
Next up: Vanderbilt returns home for a nonconference matchup with Miami (Ohio). South Carolina hits the road for another SEC East battle with a team from Tennessee, this one against the Volunteers.