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Opponent Q&A: Vanderbilt

Let’s talk Commodores.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Stephenson over at sister site Anchor of Gold was kind enough to field some questions for us this week about the Vanderbilt Commodores, who come to Columbia after a bye week and a big upset over Missouri.

Wow, so, that Missouri win! Is there confidence that the Commodores can build on this, or are some afraid it’s just a fluke?

Vanderbilt might have finally found a quarterback (of course, he promptly went into the concussion protocol) and the defense had easily its best performance of the season -- so, no, this wasn’t a total fluke. I think the main thing we learned from the Missouri game was that the team wasn’t actually going to quit on the season, which very much appeared to be the case in the second half of the UNLV game. Now as far as carrying that over, I don’t know. Vanderbilt could play as well as it did against Missouri the rest of the way and still finish 4-8, just because they have three road games in November.

Ke’Shawn Vaughn is still around and making life difficult for Vandy’s opponents, but who else should Gamecock fans know about that may not be on their radar?

I’m just gonna assume y’all are already familiar with seventh-year seniors Kalija Lipscomb and Jared Pinkney, but redshirt freshman WR Cam Johnson is looking like he’ll be the star of the offense within the next year or two. So far this season he’s caught 19 passes for 205 yards. The defense hasn’t had too many stars this season, but DE Dayo Odeyingbo is a solid pass rusher who doesn’t get a ton of help up front.

At this point in the season, what would you say is Vanderbilt’s greatest strength?

Uhhh... we have a good punter. (Really, it’s Ke’Shawn Vaughn, but there aren’t a lot of things about this team that I would call “strengths.”)

Conversely, what worries you the most about this game?

South Carolina’s run defense has been pretty solid this year, and I’m just not sure Vanderbilt has the quarterback play to beat them through the air. The quarterback play improved with Mo Hasan last time out, but (a) he might not play, and (b) that had more to do with his ability to make plays with his feet than with his arm. I mean, he was a walk-on for a reason.

Finally, care to make a prediction?

South Carolina 21, Vanderbilt 17. It’s Will Muschamp against Derek Mason, so this is going to be low-scoring and stupid. I can’t in good conscience predict us to beat a team that’s beaten us ten in a row.

Thanks again to Tom for taking the time to provide us with some thoughtful answers, as well as a frank appraisal of how dumb this game could be.