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South Carolina vs. Vanderbilt: Three Keys to Victory

If there’s any remote chance of bowling, South Carolina needs this one today.

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The South Carolina Gamecocks welcome the Vanderbilt Commodores to town for Homecoming and State Fair weekend, and will be hoping to continue the festive atmosphere with a bounce-back win. Last week’s performance against Tennessee — in the first half, at least — was thoroughly demoralizing, and the Gamecocks need to handle a 2-4 Vandy squad that has shown few signs of being a threat. Here’s what I’ll be looking for.

Limit. The. Penalties. Look, I know this is an obvious one and we’ve all been hollering about it for weeks now, but it’s gonna keep landing on this list until this team shows even a shred of sustained discipline. While South Carolina was “only” penalized five times last week against Tennessee (which was an indeed an improvement, however frustrating), the Gamecocks continued to put themselves behind the chains and stall out an offense that already struggles to catch a spark. We’re six games into the season and will be playing with the backing of a home crowd; today would be a nice opportunity to turn in a clean game.

Find a way to continue last week’s second-half momentum. The Tennessee game was about as stark as a tale of two halves as you’ll ever see, with South Carolina blanking the Volunteers in the third quarter and limiting them to just a touchdown scored later in the fourth. Now, you can certainly argue that UT likely called off the dogs a bit with a commanding 35-7 halftime lead — and the USC offense was still largely absent, with only 13 points scored in the second stanza — but there are still undeniably some things to build on here.

Just...do what you’re supposed to do. Gamecock fans are desperate and starving to see South Carolina go out there and handle a weaker opponent with less talent. East Carolina and Troy were both too close for comfort, and even the performance against Eastern Illinois wasn’t as dominant as it could’ve and arguably should’ve been. Shane Beamer and his offensive staff, in particular, need to build back up some goodwill and find a way to take a team like this to the woodshed. As a bonus key to victory: Perhaps leave the cutesy trick plays off the shelf until the offense starts executing better overall.