NASHVILLE, Tenn (The Big Spur) - Bad news surfaced for Vanderbilt this week as injuries and COVID-19 issues left the Commodores with just 56 scholarship players to face South Carolina on Saturday. But that’s not where the problems ended — far from it, actually.
South Carolina led start to finish and used multiple long touchdowns to make it a laugher late, handing Vanderbilt a 41-7 loss. The Commodores remain without a win at 0-3, while the Gamecocks earned their first victory of the season in convincing fashion.
For Vanderbilt, the concern turns to its roster situation. With a road trip to Missouri scheduled for next weekend, the Commodores could still be without a large handful of contributors. Starting defensive backs Dashaun Jerkins, Donovan Kaufman and Randall Haynie all missed Saturday’s game along with leading rusher Ja’Veon Marlow and rotational linebacker Alston Orji — Vanderbilt did not have the depth to compete for 60 minutes. The game featured numerous similarities to Vanderbilt’s 41-7 loss to LSU last week, right down to the score.
The Commodores had chances in the first half to make it a game but continued their season-long trend of struggling in the red zone on offense. Pierson Cooke missed a 29-yard field goal and the Gamecocks brought down Ken Seals on fourth down inside the 5-yard line to maintain a 10-0 shutout at halftime. Seals completed 17 of 24 passes for 148 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions, but the Commodores gained less than 250 yards during the competitive portion of the game.
South Carolina, meanwhile, exploded in the run game for the first time in 2020. Coach Will Muschamp’s team hadn’t taken a carry more than 13 yards through two games but scored on rushes of 25, 47 and 88 yards. Vanderbilt’s defensive line played another strong game overall — the defense seemed to fold, however, in allowing multiple huge gains as South Carolina pulled away late.
Sophomore running back Keyon Henry-Brooks took 13 carries for 72 yards in his season debut after missing Vanderbilt’s first two games due to an illness, and his performance served as one of the few positives.