Carolina goes on the road for the first time this season to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores, a program that has given Carolina fits in recent years. Will that happen against tomorrow, despite Vandy's poor start? Read on for our thoughts.
Three Keys to Victory
3. Get an early lead
Vandy has played poorly in its opening weeks, and while its one win on the season (against lowly UMass) came via a dramatic comeback, the 'Dores may wilt quickly if Carolina gets out to an early two-score lead. In connection with my next point, Vandy is one of the worst passing teams in the nation, and while the reinsertion of Patton Robinette may help them somewhat, Carolina wants Vandy passing as much as possible in this game.
2. Stop the run
As said, Vandy has been an absolutely awful passing team so far this season. The 2008 Gamecocks have nothing on this team in terms of aerial awfulness. Only three games into the season, Vandy has played several quarterbacks and has produced almost nothing in the passing game. What Vandy will want to do in this game is try to run the ball with some semblance of success. They don't run well either, but they do that better than pass, and in a game that's a mismatch from a talent standpoint, they stand to benefit from shortening the game substantially.
What Carolina needs to do is to challenge Vandy to throw. This is a good opportunity for Lorenzo Ward to draw up a game plan that puts a lot of pressure on his young cornerbacks. They may mess up a time or two, but if he forces Vandy to pass, he'll likely also put his corners in a position to build confidence and make plays. That will be meaningful not just in terms of putting Vandy away but also in preparing for Mizzou, a team with a passing attack that's good enough to ruin Carolina's hopes for a spot in the SEC Championship Game.
1. Avoid turnovers
Vandy is overmatched in this game. Badly so. If Vandy wins, it will likely be due to some ugly turnovers by Dylan Thompson and company. If Dylan and his crew can avoid those turnovers, Carolina should go home a winner.
It wouldn't be Vandy-Carolina without a first-half scare. Vandy goes to halftime in striking distance, with the score 17-10. Carolina wins big, though, 45-13.