Breaking Down Each Game In 2012: Vanderbilt
In this series I wanna break down each game that the Cocks have through the year. Opening up the series and the season will be the Vanderbilt Commodores. James Franklin has done a pretty good job for the Dores so far in his short tenure in Nashville and I believe this year will be another step in the right direction for his team. The Dores bring in the highest ranked recruiting class in school history and also have some pretty good weapons returning as well.
2011 Record- Overall 6-7, 2-6 in the conference
Bowl Game- Lost to Cincinnati 31-24 in the Autozone Liberty Bowl
Key Starters Returning- Jordan Rodgers/qb, Zac Stacy/rb, Warren Norman/rb
Key Losses- Chris Marve/lb, Casey Howard/db
1. South Carolina's defensive front vs. Vandy's running game- This years Vanderbilt offense will more than likely be very run oriented. Rodgers is a good running quarterback and Stacy and Norman are pretty solid backs as well. Their aren't any really scary wide-outs on the Vanderbilt offense so the key here is going to start up front for the cocks defense. If Clowney and Taylor along with the rest of the line can shut down the rushing attack of Vandy then it could be a long night for the Dores.
2. South Carolina Passing Game vs. Vandy's young secondary- Last year Vandy ranked very high in the Sec along with Nationally in interceptions. The main pieces that were in place for the intriguing stats are now moving on to the NFL or they graduated. This should be a good chance for some of the new receivers to show what they are made of. If Shaw can get going early in the season with his arm and then also add the fact that he can run, then it's going to be a really good year for us. Vandy's young secondary should give Shaw a chance to really get his confidence going in the right direction in the early stages of the season.
3. South Carolina Offensive Line vs. Vandy's Defensive Front- This is probably the biggest matchup. If the Cocks can win the battle up front (which they should) then it's going to open up the doors for a big night running the football. I realize the o-line will be young but this type of game could be exactly what we need to start off the year because Vandy isn't spectacular on the defensive front and again it comes back to the confidence factor. If we can win the battle up front and be successful running the ball then not only is it going to give the young guys confidence in this game but down the road as well.
Conclussion- Again, I do believe that James Franklin and the Dores will be improved this year and starting out the year at home in a big game like this is a huge advantage for them. But on the flip side, I also think that the difference maker in this game will be Marcus Lattimore. Yes, Latti is coming off knee surgury but I honestly believe that him having to sit out half the year and knowing how hard this kid will work to be better than before will drive him to have his best year yet and I don't believe that Vandy will be able to slow him down. It's a clear advantage for us knowing that most teams in the first game of the year will be a little rusty and playing the cocks with Latti running the ball isn't going to help. Vandy will keep it close for about a half and the Cocks will pull away late.
Prediction- Gamecocks 31 Vandy 13