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South Carolina vs. Vanderbilt report card: Defense gets good start in win over Commodores

Each week, we’ll grade the Gamecocks’ performance on the field. Which units shone and which underperformed in last night’s victory in Nashville?

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

Grading the Gamecocks after a 13-10 come-from-behind victory in Nashville over the Commodores to give Will Muschamp his first win in his South Carolina debut...

Passing Game: C+

Would have been much higher if not for a much more sustained attack throughout the evening. Several point-blank drops in the first half made it harder on the offense than it had to be. Orth wasn’t great, but serviceable, and recovered to make several strong throws in the second half. Great debut from Bryan Edwards. McIlwain showed promise, but also showed several freshman moments, as expected.

Passing Defense: A+

Vandy’s game through the air was a non-factor. The Commodores attempted just 23 passes, the longest for just 24 yards. Hats off to the Gamecocks’ defense for not making Kyle Shurmur look like Chad Kelly.

Running Game: B-

Would have been a lower score if not for some clutch running late in the game by A.J. Turner, who, along with Edwards, showed star potential last evening. Brandon McIlwain had some nice runs in the series in which he saw the field. David Williams disappointed again. Offensive line needs to get better push up front to allow a more sustained attack for 60 minutes.

Run Defense: B

Not perfect, but not terrible last night. The Gamecocks kept plays limited for the most part (longest run was a 13-yarder) and, apart from the Khari Blasingame TD run and a few white-knuckle moments after the Deebo Samuel jet sweep, there weren’t many major concerns. BAW and the LB corps showed me some good things.

Special Teams: B

Sean Kelly was terrific, and so were the kickoff/punt coverage teams. (Remember the last time these two teams played each other in Nashville?). #FREISMAN. Deebo muffed punt and Turner near-safety on the opening kick (!?!) drop the mark a few notches and keep this from being an A+ night.

Coaching: C

Not an outstanding debut overall, but just OK as they made the plays they needed to win. Muschamp and T-Rob had the defense ready to play and they delivered for the most part. Offense was very sluggish in the first 30 minutes as Kurt Roper failed to take risks downfield, but saw life in the 4th. Shawn Elliott’s offensive line looked undisciplined and unprepared - they were awful for most of the night. Didn’t like the punt calls in the first half in Vandy territory or the draw play by Orth in the final drive with Turner running the way he was (as I mentioned before, water under the bridge).