Williams-Brice Stadium: As a grayish sky hovered over Columbia and a misty rain seeped down onto the field, Saturday, the Gamecocks performance shined through the clouds like a ray of sun, making Vanderbilt look as dull as the weather by comparison in a 47-6 victory for South Carolina.
After coming under fire for its inability to get off the field on third down or stand up to the run, the USC defense responded with its best half of the season, limiting the Commodores to 53 yards and 1.8 yards/play in the first two quarters, Saturday. Linebacker Bam Martin-Scott made his presence felt with 13 tackles and a sack to lead a group clearly determined to impose its will. Pete Lembo’s Special Teams unit, which had been less than spectacular in recent weeks, also came up with a big play as Keenan Nelson, Jr. blocked a Vanderbilt punt and recovered it for a touchdown.
Spencer Rattler and the Gamecocks receiving corps didn’t seemed fazed by the cool air, slick ball and slippery conditions as they posted 351 yards passing. Mario Anderson eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the second time this season, rushing for 102 yards and a 72-yard touchdown on just nine carries. Rattler hit ten different receivers, including defensive tackle/tight end Alex Huntley, who caught a 1-yard touchdown. Xavier Legette was again a favorite target, catching nine balls for 120 yards, putting him at 1,093 yards on the season. Legette is the first Gamecocks receiver to surpass 1,000 yards receiving in a season since Pharoh Cooper (2014).
South Carolina did, however, lose a key offensive contributor as Juju McDowell suffered a broken clavicle in the first half. USC, already missing Dakereon Joyner from its backfield due to injury, will now likely lean heavily on Anderson and freshman Djay Braswell.
The Gamecocks (4-6) will look to make it three wins in a row and keep their bowl hopes alive when they play host to Kentucky at 7:30 p.m., Saturday.