South Carolina picked up its first SEC win with a 19-10 defeat of Vanderbilt Saturday. The win marked the first in just over a decade without Steve Spurrier on the sideline and, perhaps, a new chapter of Gamecocks football.
The following are the grades the Gamecocks deserve based on the performance.
There’s not much to brag about with this offensive performance, but Perry Orth was able to put the ball in Pharoh Cooper’s hands, and that obviously paid off. Cooper hauled in seven passes for 160 yards, including South Carolina’s only touchdown of the game.
Orth finally notched a win in his third career start. He was aided by the return of Brandon Wilds, who racked up 119 yards on 24 carries.
Finally, we see signs of a capable Gamecocks offense. More impressively, it came against a very stout Vanderbilt defense.
All week long, interim coach Shawn Elliott tried to inject energy into his team. Apparently, linebacker Skai Moore heard that message loud and clear.
Moore recorded a sack, interception, forced a fumble, recovered a fumble and led South Carolina with 11 tackles. He spearheaded a South Carolina defense that held Vanderbilt to a season-low 10 points and picked off quarterback Johnny McCrary three times.
Vanderbilt’s lone touchdown of the game was fueled by T.J. Holloman’s targeting penalty, which set up the Commodores with a first-and-goal at the South Carolina 3. Otherwise, South Carolina held its own for the most part.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B
Elliott Fry wasn’t perfect, but he did knock four field goals through the uprights, including two in the second half to seal the South Carolina win.
Fry connected on field goals of 47, 31, 19 and 22 yards. Let’s not look past the 47-yard field goal, which should not be taken for granted in the college game.
He’s not the Head Ball Coach, but Elliott energized the Gamecocks and the team responded. It was an emotional game for South Carolina from the start and the team played accordingly.
Elliott continued his uncanny pregame rituals by pushing and jumping with the offensive linemen. After the game, he praised his players for playing with a fire instead of giving up after Spurrier resigned.
It took a special kind of coach to rally the team behind him, and Elliott got the job done. Fittingly, he helped South Carolina notch its first SEC win of the season.
South Carolina entered this game 0-4 against SEC opponents. If that wasn’t enough, Spurrier resigned earlier in the week, and there was every reason for this team to lay down against Vandy on Saturday.
Instead, South Carolina fought hard. Orth played well. Cooper dominated against a tough defense. Wilds made his presence felt, and the Gamecocks’ defense proved to be the best defense on the field.
It wasn’t pretty, but South Carolina got in the win column and overcame a major coaching void with the win. Elliott deserves credit, as does this team.