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South Carolina 24, Vanderbilt 7: When the offense does nothing for three and a half quarters

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This one was not as close as the final score made it look.

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Box Score

Five Factors Vanderbilt S. Carolina
Five Factors Vanderbilt S. Carolina
Plays 50 80
Total Yards 189 440
Yards Per Play 3.8 5.5
Rushing Attempts 27 49
Rushing Yards 116 205
Rushing YPP 4.3 4.2
Passing Attempts 23 31
Passing Yards 73 235
Passing YPP 3.2 7.6
Rushing Success Rate 44.40% 42.90%
Passing Success Rate 21.70% 58.10%
Success Rate 34.00% 48.80%
Avg. Field Position 18 40.5
PP40 7 3
Turnovers 2 1

So, let’s recap Saturday night’s game against the South Carolina Gamecocks. South Carolina:

  • averaged 5.5 yards per play to Vanderbilt’s 3.8 (and ran 30 more plays than Vanderbilt, leading to an ugly disparity in total yards)
  • had a 48.8 percent success rate; Vanderbilt had a 34 percent success rate
  • started its drives, on average, at the 40.5-yard line (helped along by starting three drives on Vanderbilt’s side of the 50)
  • committed one turnover to Vanderbilt’s two

These are the kinds of disparities you normally see in a game with a final score of something like 49-0, not a 24-7 game that was a seven-point game at the end of the third quarter. Vanderbilt’s offense ran nine plays in South Carolina territory, with five of them coming on the first drive of the game (Riley Neal’s lone series); that drive resulted in Vanderbilt grabbing a 7-0 lead.

South Carolina had eight drives that got inside the Vanderbilt 40 (three of those, actually, started inside the Vanderbilt 40 thanks to a big punt return and two interceptions.) Four of those drives ended with no points; the Gamecocks’ first chance to tie the game after Vanderbilt’s only score ended with a fumble at the Vanderbilt 9. The Gamecocks also punted from the Vanderbilt 45 after an illegal forward pass knocked them out of field goal range, and two drives ended with the Gamecocks getting stuffed on 4th down. When you generate that many scoring chances, you probably feel bad about only scoring 24 points; then again, Vanderbilt never actually threatened.

Vanderbilt’s defense mostly did its job, with the lone exception of third down: South Carolina converted 9 of 15, including more than a few third and longs. The offense, on the other hand, was terrible — but, actually, you would normally accept 4.3 yards per play on the ground and a 44.4 percent success rate. That’s just a reflection of how bad the passing game was. And that was with the passing game averaging 8.8 yards per play and having a 60 percent success rate on the first drive of the game.

Of course, when by sheer gift a game like this has a score that’s nominally competitive, you have to take more chances than this staff has shown that it really wants to. After throwing an incompletion on 3rd and 2 at the South Carolina 40, Vanderbilt decided to punt from that spot when a conversion and a subsequent score could have given them a 14-0 lead and completely changed the complexion of the game. And at the end of the first half, Vanderbilt seemed content to run out the clock with 1:38 left, in spite of Ke’Shawn Vaughn breaking off a couple of good runs and getting Vanderbilt out to the 42. This coaching staff is way too conservative for what this team is.

Passing stats

Passing Comp Att Comp % Yds TD INT Sacks Yds Lost Net Yds Success Rate YPP
Passing Comp Att Comp % Yds TD INT Sacks Yds Lost Net Yds Success Rate YPP
Deuce Wallace 8 17 47.10% 30 0 2 1 1 29 11.10% 1.6
Riley Neal 3 4 75.00% 46 1 0 1 2 44 60.00% 8.8

So, to sum up Vanderbilt’s coaching staff and its evaluation of the quarterback position, in the last nine months it has:

  • attempted to move the best quarterback on the team to wide receiver for no particular reason, then given him zero playing time for six games; and
  • needed the entirety of spring practice and three weeks of fall camp to sort out the two quarterbacks listed above.

Rushing stats

Rushing Att Yds YPA TD Success Rate
Rushing Att Yds YPA TD Success Rate
Ke'Shawn Vaughn 20 87 4.4 0 50.00%
Keyon Brooks 5 24 4.8 0 40.00%
Justice Shelton-Mosley 1 3 3 0 0.00%
Riley Neal 1 2 2 0 0.00%

To be blunt, Ke’Shawn Vaughn deserves better than this. In fact, the complete lack of a passing game is making him look worse than he actually is.

Receiving stats

Receiving Targets Catches Yds TD Catch Rate Yds/Target Yds/Catch Success Rate
Receiving Targets Catches Yds TD Catch Rate Yds/Target Yds/Catch Success Rate
C.J. Bolar 5 3 16 0 60.00% 3.2 5.3 20.00%
Jared Pinkney 3 0 0 0 0.00% 0 N/A 0.00%
Ke'Shawn Vaughn 2 2 11 0 100.00% 5.5 5.5 50.00%
Keyon Brooks 2 2 -2 0 100.00% -1 -1 0.00%
Cam Johnson 2 1 26 1 50.00% 13 26 50.00%
James Bostic 2 1 11 0 50.00% 5.5 11 50.00%
Justice Shelton-Mosley 2 1 8 0 50.00% 4 8 50.00%
Chris Pierce 1 1 6 0 100.00% 6 6 0.00%

Hard to comment too much on the receivers; we’ll just say that what happened on Saturday night wasn’t really their fault. Kalija Lipscomb didn’t play, and Derek Mason couldn’t really seem to explain why after the game. It wasn’t an injury, it wasn’t a disciplinary issue, he made the trip and dressed for the game; he just didn’t play. You know, in case this season wasn’t weird enough already.

Notes

  • Jaylen Mahoney got what I think is his first start of the season at nickel back, while the starting cornerbacks were Allan George and BJ Anderson (for the all-Andalusia cornerback pairing.) Of the two starting cornerbacks at the beginning of the season, DC Williams is hurt; Cam Watkins played, but didn’t start.
  • On offense, Justice Shelton-Mosley got the start at WR in Lipscomb’s absence.
  • By the way, if you want to talk yourself into next year’s defense, here are the team’s leading tacklers this season: Dimitri Moore (redshirt sophomore), Dashaun Jerkins (redshirt freshman), Brendon Harris (redshirt freshman), Tae Daley (junior), Feleti Afemui (redshirt sophomore), Allan George (redshirt sophomore), Dayo Odeyingbo (junior), Andre Mintze (redshirt junior), Kenny Hebert (redshirt junior.) There’s really nobody important on the defensive side of the ball who’s gone after this season.

What’s Next

Vanderbilt is now 2-6 on the season, meaning that they’d have to win out to become bowl-eligible. That starts on Saturday at 11:00 AM CT at the Swamp, where they’ll play Florida, a team that was ranked in the top ten before Saturday. Yeah, good luck with that. Saturday’s game will be televised on ESPN.

(Meanwhile, yes, there’s a basketball game between now and then.)