We're passionate about the NFL Draft
I have to admit that in the past I have not been a fan of Vandy football. My impression of the football program was that it was a bunch of rich kids that should stick to intramural sports. Vanderbilt head Coach James Franklin is changing my mind, and more importantly he’s changing the culture of the Vandy football program. His kids seem to have bought in to his philosophy and are playing tough and hard for him. He still has an uphill battle because the talent level is still not what you normally see at an SEC school, but with time I think Franklin can turn this around.
This was the first televised game of the college football season and it showed. Neither team was crisp and both defenses were playing better than the offenses. Although it wasn’t a flawless game from either side, this was a highly entertaining game with both teams having a shot to win it late. The Gamecocks took the lead with just over 5:00 left and it took a late game defensive stand, stopping Vanderbilt on 4th down to ice the game and win 17-13.
Here are my thoughts on the draft eligible players that played in the game. I will start with the winning team.
Connor Shaw – QB- Jr: Coming into this game I wasn’t much of a Connor Shaw fan, but he made a believer out of me last night. I doubt that he has a future in the NFL, but after his gutsy performance, he must have won over his team! Shaw injured his right shoulder late in the 2nd quarter, tried to come back after the half but was not allowed. Later in the 3rd he was allowed back into the game and actually played better than before he was hurt. He led a very gutsy game winning drive in the 4th quarter. On the drive, he was hit again on the shoulder as he dove towards the end zone, missed one play then came back in to hand off to Marcus Lattimore for the winning TD. Early in the game his passing was off, putting too much air under the ball and underthrowing receivers, but late in the game he got his rhythm going. He ended up rushing for 92 yards on 14 carries and was 7/11 passing for 67 yards with 1 interception.
Marcus Lattimore – RB – Jr: Lattimore showed the effects of missing the last 6 games of the year with a knee injury. He fumbled his first carry which gave Vandy the ball in Gamecock territory. He seemed tentative on his cuts and did not really plant his foot hard. With that being said, he rushed for 110 yards on 23 carries and had 2 TD’s. His first TD was on his second carry of the game and was a thing of beauty. He raced 29 yards almost untouched for the first score of the game. He also contributed on the winning TD drive with a couple of catches. Once South Carolina got the lead, they used Lattimore to run out the clock. All in all, he got the rust knocked off and should gain more confidence in his knee with every game.
Ace Sanders – WR – Jr: Sanders had two catches for 13 yards and averaged 5.0 on punt returns. He showed some good moves when he got in the open field, but he was unable to really get loose.
Justice Cunningham – TE – Jr: No doubt Cunningham made the ESPN highlights this morning. He made an amazing catch over the middle of the field on the winning TD drive. He caught the ball and was hammered by Vandy corner Andre Hal. Hal was called for launching himself at a defenseless receiver. The hit was so hard that Cunningham’s helmet was jarred loose. The catch fired up the Gamecocks and a few plays later they scored the winning TD.
Devin Taylor – DE – Sr: Taylor is a solid defensive end that is very under rated. While guys like Jadeveon Clowney get all the publicity, Taylor just goes to work and gives the Gamecocks bookend defensive ends that make plays. He did a good job setting the edge and turning plays inside where there is help.
Chaz Sutton – DE – Jr: Backup defensive end that got some playing time and a sack in the 4th quarter.
Shaq Wilson – MLB – Sr: Wilson made the defensive play of the game for the South Carolina defense. Vandy had driven into the red zone and was threatening to score. Commodore QB Jordan Rodgers rolled to his right and threw a throw-back pass to the other side of the field. Wilson read the play well and was waiting for the ball. He picked it off and returned it 37 yards.
Jimmy LeGree – CB – Jr: LeGree played good tight man coverage all night on the Commodore receivers. He also showed how physical he can play, coming up to get a tackle for loss in the run game.
Victor Hampton – CB – Redshirt Soph – Broke up a 4th down pass.
D.J. Swearinger – S – Sr: Swearinger made a very good play on a deep sideline pass to knock the ball down at the goal line.
Jordan Rodgers – QB – Sr: The ESPN announcers seemed to really be impressed by Rodgers, but I really didn’t see it. Maybe I still can’t forget him being pulled in the bowl game after going 1/7 passing. He is the brother of Aaron Rodgers and as far as I’m concerned Aaron cornered the QB genes in that family. Jordan was 13/23 for 214 with 1 TD and 1 INT. Last year the knock on him was his decision making and I saw the same things last night. He lobbed up a throw-back pass that was intercepted by Shaq Wilson. He also hung up the ball between three defenders which was completed, but it was only because the receiver bailed him out. Until he becomes consistent with his decision making, I don’t think pro scouts will be impressed.
Zac Stacy – RB – Sr: Stacy is the guy that needs to be on for Vandy to move the ball. He is a tough inside runner that does a good job finding creases in the defense. He had cramps late in the game, but returned. He carried 13 times for 48 yards.
Jordan Matthews – WR – Jr: Matthews showed great speed and hands, plucking a Rodgers pass from the air and racing 78 yards with it. He does a good job extending his hands and making the catch. He also can get up in the air and make catches in a crowd. He had 8 catches for 147 yards and 1 TD.
Wesley Tate – RB – Jr: Tate has spent time as both a running back and wide receiver. He is a versatile player that the Commodores can move around and create mismatches. As a runner, he sets up his blocks well and makes people miss. He is very dangerous in space and is a better inside runner than you would think, converting a 4th and 1 inside run. He had 7 carries for 17 yards and 1 catch for 17 yards.
Josh Jelesky – G – Sr: Jelesky did a good job against a very good Gamecocks defensive line. He did a good job trap blocking and blocking down to give his backs some running room.
Rob Lohr – DT – Sr: Lohr did a good job stopping inside runs and got better as the game went on. He also chased down an outside play, making the tackle short of the 1st down and forcing the punt.
Archibald Barnes – LB – Sr: Leader of the Commodores defense. Hurt his arm in the 3rd quarter, but returned and delivered some big hits late in the game.
Karl Butler – LB – Jr: Butler weighs 215 and is a former safety. He made a very good play on Connor Shaw, forcing a fumble and then recovering the ball himself.
Kenny Ladler – S – Sr: Ladler is a high effort guy that had a good night. He read Rodgers eyes and picked off one of his passes on the sideline. He also had a sack on Rodgers.
Eric Samuels – S – Jr: Had a sack on 3rd down to force a punt.
Andre Hal – CB – Jr: Hal had a mixed bag of success. He made a good play to tip away a pass in the end zone early in the game and late in the game he had a 52 yard kickoff return. However, he also muffed the ball on an earlier kickoff and was called for launching on the Gamecocks winning TD drive. One thing about him, he obviously doesn’t shy away from contact.
by Dwayne Wilton