It wasn’t easy but #23 USC found a way to snap its two game losing skid against Vanderbilt. The Gamecocks held off the Commodores 14-10 Saturday night at Williams-Brice Stadium. The defense kept Vandy out of the end zone and the offense did just enough to give Carolina a much needed win over Vandy. Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier called it one of the more interesting games he’s coached.
AUDIO: Spurrier post Vanderbilt (7:43)
It was an odd game. Neither team had a turnover. There were a combined 15 penalties and a combined 16 punts. Vanderbilt’s only touchdown came on a 99 yard kickoff return. The Gamecocks rolled up 431 yards of total offense but only managed two touchdowns. The game just had a strange flow.
One thing that wasn’t odd, shocking or strange was the play of USC freshman wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. His night included 8 catches for 161 yards and one touchdown. He’s clearly become Stephen Garcia’s number one target. Garcia finished the night 22 of 32 for 312 yards and two touchdowns. He didn’t throw an interception. Garcia’s two scores came on 35 and 43 yards strikes to D.L. Moore and Jeffery.
AUDIO: Jeffery post Vandy (4:18)
AUDIO: Garcia post Vandy (5:32)
But as Spurrier said, it was a strange game. Yes the offense put up nice numbers. In addition to the big night from Garcia and the receivers, running back Kenny Miles finished with 102 yards rushing on 18 carries. However, the Gamecocks only managed 14 points. That meant that once again, the defense had to step up and secure the win for the Gamecocks. On its final drive Vanderbilt moved the ball to the Gamecock 25 yard line looking for a touchdown to win the game. But just as we saw at N.C. State and against Ole Miss and Kentucky, the Carolina defense answered the bell. They forced a grounding call on third and eight Chris Culliver sacked Vandy quarterback Larry Smith (who was called for intentional grounding on the play) and that set up 4th and 32 and ended the suspense.
AUDIO: Ellis Johnson post Vanderbilt (4:18)
The win improves the Gamecocks record to 6-2 and 3-2 in the SEC. That means the team is bowl eligible as they head to Knoxville to face Lane Kiffin and Tennessee next weekend. That game will kick off at 7:45 on ESPN. (And yes, we asked Alshon Jeffery about the alleged “pumping gas” comment from Kiffin. Jeffery’s comment was “No comment” and that was not a surprise either. (You can hear his response in the above audio).
On the injury front, Cliff Matthews left the field late in the game with a shoulder stinger. He says he is fine and will play next weekend. DeVonte Holloman suffered a right shoulder contusion but he is also expected to be fine for next week’s game.
USC vs Vanderbilt BOX SCORE