COLUMBIA, SC - SEPTEMBER 17: Safety D.J. Swearinger #36 of the South Carolina Gamecocks salutes fans after play against the Navy Midshipmen September 17, 2011 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
This post continues our series previewing the Vandy game. Yesterday, we looked at Vandy's defense. Today, we're looking at their offense. I apologize for not having time to put up a proper post today, which has, yet again, been quite busy.
Based on comments from the post-practice press conferences, It sounds like the USC corners may be going to play more aggressive, man-to-man coverages. All I have to say is that it's about time. Our defensive backs seem to have a constitutional aversion to good decision-making and effective assignment maintenance in our various cover schemes. Moreover, it can't be lost upon Vandy that we seem so content to give opponents the short-field pass, as Vandy doesn't have a great quarterback or talented receivers and would thus prefer to dink and dunk us rather than take risky shots down field. Going to man coverage is a great move here, particularly considering that our defensive backs have Vandy's receivers beaten in the athleticism department. If Stephon Gilmore, Victor Hampton, and C.C. Whitlock can't run with this group of receivers, something is wrong. The good news is that they can, and I hope to see us line our corners up in man coverage at the line of scrimmage in all but third-and-long situations this week. We've got the athletes; we should scheme like it.
The Vandy passing-game renaissance is still in the making. With Vandy having struggled to pass the ball well ever since the departure of Jay Cutler and Earl Bennett, one of the things that promised Vandy fans is an improved aerial attack. Franklin is known as an effective QBs and WRs coach and for having put together some pretty solid offenses under Ralph Friedgen at Maryland. However, success in this department has yet to come at Vandy. 'Dores QB Larry Smith remains inconsistent, and Vandy lacks effective playmakers at WR. To make matters worse, the 'Dores offensive line, despite being fairly experienced, has been highly ineffective thus far, having allowed Smith to be sacked nine times. Quite frankly, I would like to see the Gamecocks be as aggressive as possible in attacking Smith in this game. I like our chances of forcing him to make mistakes.
Expect Vandy to run the ball. The 'Dores are currently running a fair bit more than they are passing. They struggled to do either a couple of weeks ago against UConn, and while they were somewhat more effective running last week against Ole Miss, if you go back and watch the game, you'll see that most of their best runs came on gadget plays (look out for the Statue of Liberty handoff) and after almost absurd Ole Miss defensive miscues. With the way Vandy's offensive line is performing right now, we should be able to hold Vandy's running game in check if we come to play.