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South Carolina’s defense is a big step down from the two Vanderbilt has faced

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The Gamecocks have allowed 6.3 yards per play through two games.

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

The difficult thing about figuring out Vanderbilt’s offense early on in the 2020 season is whether the weak performances are a reflection on the offense itself or the defenses the team has faced. South Carolina’s defense, then, should provide a good answer to that question.

The Gamecocks’ defense is, at least on paper, not great. They’ve allowed 69 points (nice) through two games against Tennessee and Florida and that’s come while allowing 6.3 yards per play. The defensive line isn’t very big — starting defensive tackles Keir Thomas and Jabari Ellis are listed at, respectively, 275 and 285, and senior end Aaron Sterling is relatively undersized at 6’1” and 245 pounds. They haven’t gotten a ton of pressure on the quarterback, with four sacks and one quarterback hurry. They’ve allowed 3.7 yards per carry on the ground, but Florida basically wasn’t trying to run the ball — Tennessee’s Ty Chandler did have 86 yards on 13 carries.

The linebacking corps is more effective, but it’s still a relatively no-name group: Kingsley Enagbare (listed at the “Buck” position, and I have no idea what that is) is 6’4” and 270 pounds and leads the team with 2.5 tackles for loss and two sacks, while Ernest Jones is the team’s leading tackler on the season with 16 — but, seriously, who the hell are these guys? And the defensive backfield has gotten torched by both Kyle Trask — which, okay, fine — and Jarrett Guarantano — which, not fine.

In other words, if Vanderbilt’s offense is even decent they should be able to put up yards and points on this unit. If Vanderbilt’s offense is actually bad, we’ll have an answer to that on Saturday.