COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Rested. Refreshed. Ready to go.
Following a bye week, the South Carolina Gamecocks have recharged their batteries and are ready to finish the season strong.
"We kind of took some time off just to get away from it for a little bit," said Gamecocks quarterback Jake Bentley. "I think that's very important to have during the season. It's always so intense for so long. It's always good to get away from it for a little bit."
This week, the Gamecocks hope to pick up their third straight win when they take on Vanderbilt in front of their Homecoming crowd. A win would secure bowl eligibility for the Gamecocks, but that thought is the last thing on the team's mind.
"We try to take it game by game," Bentley said. "It's there, but I think the older guys have to really lock into that, that it's a one-game season. That's what Coach Muschamp has been telling us all week and really all year. The older guys and leaders have to really drill that into the younger guys, too. It's one game. Our focus is on Vandy."
Like South Carolina, Vanderbilt is also coming off a bye week. However, the Commodores are owners of a four-game losing streak and are in desperate need of a win. On offense, Vandy is led by quarterback Kyle Shurmur. The 6-foot-4 junior has thrown for 1,331 yards and 14 touchdowns this season. Two of his favorite targets, C.J. Duncan and Trent Sherfield, will do their best to test the Gamecocks' secondary. Combined, Duncan and Sherfield.
"He's throwing the ball very efficiently down the field," said Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp. "The receivers are all guys that we've faced: (C.J.) Duncan, (Trent) Sherfield and (Kalija) Lipscomb, all guys that we've faced the last couple of years. They've got really good skill outside.
Also returning in the backfield is running back Ralph Webb. The redshirt senior is the leading rusher for the Commodores with 408 yards and five touchdowns. However, Vandy only has a total of 648 yards on the ground.
Defensively, the Commodores surrender an average of just over 30 points per game. In fact, opponents are average more than 400 yards of offense against Derek Mason's team. Still, the Gamecocks know the Commodores can be tough to score against when they take the field.
"I think schematically Derek (Mason) does a really good job of tackling protections," Muschamp said. He understands the protection, whether it's slot protection and there's three-three protection; you know, whatever the case may be. And I think, schematically, he does a very good job of creating some one-on-ones, especially 77 (Nifae Lealao) and 34 (Dare Odeyingbo) inside, two really good inside players. (Number) 11 (Charles) Wright is a guy on the edge you've got to deal with, so, I think he does a great job of creating one-on-one matchups."
Wright will be the biggest problem Vandy will present in their front seven. The redshirt junior linebacker leads the team with six sacks this season. The Gamecocks will also need to keep an eye on LaDarius Wiley. The Commodores safety leads the team with 59 tackles.
Saturday's matchup between South Carolina and Vanderbilt will take place at 4 p.m. and can be seen on the SEC Network.