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South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Vanderbilt Commodores: Three keys and a prediction

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What’ll it take for Will Muschamp to get that much sought after season opening victory?

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at South Carolina Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Vanderbilt Commodores

No, you’re not hallucinating through some alternate reality where the clouds are down and the water is up. You’re in the right place, and in a little more than 24 hours Era BOOM will have commenced and we’ll all be wondering what exactly we’ve gotten ourselves into, for better or worse.

Some questions will get answers. Most won’t. But, let’s be honest, how much can you really learn from one game? Anyway, let’s get down to it.

Here’s what it’ll take to get Will Muschamp his first career win as South Carolina’s head football coach.

Three Keys to the game:

  1. Stuff the Webb. Junior running back Ralph Webb is the Vanderbilt playmaker on offense. The Gainesville, FL native earned himself third-team All-SEC honors after an historic 2015 where he set a sophomore Vanderbilt rushing record with 1,152 yards gained while carrying the ball a school record 277 times. Although he was relied on as a workhouse all year, he didn’t get rolling until the end, putting an exclamation mark on 2015 averaging just under 112 ypg in the final five SEC contests. If South Carolina’s hopefully improved defensive front can contain Webb and limit him to less than 100 yards, sophomore QB Kyle Shurmer and the rest of the Commodores’ offense may struggle to effectively move the ball.
  2. 10 catches, 125 yards and 2 TD’s. That’s the baseline I’m putting down for Deebo Samuel’s 2016 debut. It’s no secret that who ever is throwing him the ball needs the sophomore receiver to find some space and make his own plays around the Commodore’s stingy defense. With pretty much every other skill player tasked with finding their footing in the first game, we can’t hold them to the same expectation as Samuel. The much-hyped wideout will be asked to carry our young receivers all year, there’s just going to be a little more weight on him Thursday night.
  3. BAW. Skai Moore’s not going to be out there. Neither is Larenz Bryant to get things started. Bryson Allen-Williams knows that, as do his fellow corps of linebackers - a group widely thought to be the strength of South Carolina’s team in 2016. The consensus four-star prospect Allen-Williams hasn’t put up the production in the garnet and black just yet, but there’s a certain amount of impact he’ll need to have to start the season for the Gamecocks D to provide any sort of restraint on opposing offenses. The veteran linebacker, supported by Jonathan Walton and T.J. Holloman, will need to be on his toes and in an aggressive state of mind in hopes of containing Ralph Webb and stifling the Vandy offense.

Prediction:

Vegas likes Vanderbilt at home. And to be honest, getting to host such an inexperienced conference opponent in front of what Derek Mason is hoping to be an audible and hungry fan base, why wouldn’t the books favor the ‘Dores?

On the other hand 21st century history proves South Carolina has the success in season opening match-ups. Just like last season, I think the Gamecocks make that one extra play on offense and run out of Nashville with the win.

South Carolina 17 - Vanderbilt 13