Three Matchups to Watch: Vanderbilt vs. South Carolina

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Three Matchups to Watch: Vanderbilt vs. South Carolina

Vanderbilt plays Notre Dame on Saturday. September 15, 2018. (Photo by Hunter Long)

Vanderbilt plays Notre Dame on Saturday. September 15, 2018. (Photo by Hunter Long)

Hunter Long

Vanderbilt plays Notre Dame on Saturday. September 15, 2018. (Photo by Hunter Long)

Hunter Long

Hunter Long

Vanderbilt plays Notre Dame on Saturday. September 15, 2018. (Photo by Hunter Long)

Henry Hunter

After taking a top-10 team to the ropes last weekend in South Bend, the Vanderbilt Commodores are looking to rebound.

They begin SEC play this weekend, hosting the 1-1 South Carolina Gamecocks. Unlike the Commodores, the Gamecocks are essentially coming off of a bye week, as Hurricane Florence forced their game against Marshall to be cancelled.

Saturday afternoon’s game promises to be a “street fight”, according to head coach Derek Mason. The two teams line up well, so keep an eye out for these three key matchups.

Jared Pinkney vs. J.T. Ibe and Steven Montac

Mason mentioned wolves and sharks when describing how aggressive Junior Tight End Jared Pinkney has become, and he has another chance to dominate this Saturday.

Against Notre Dame, Pinkney had five receptions for 111 yards and a touchdown, showing his strength as he dragged a Notre Dame defender into the end zone. South Carolina’s safeties J.T. Ibe and Steven Montac are both under 200 pounds, meaning that the 250-plus pound Pinkney will have the size advantage in the middle of the field.

Look for Pinkney to use his physicality to give quarterback Kyle Shurmur an option up the seam.

Deebo Samuel vs. Joejuan Williams

Senior wide receiver Deebo Samuel is South Carolina’s biggest weapon on offense.

After an injury shortened his junior season, Samuel is off to a hot start in 2018. Through just two games, he’s racked up both a passing and receiving touchdown. Fortunately for Vanderbilt, cornerback Joejuan Williams has the physicality to match up well with Samuel.

Many standout college wide receivers are limited by weak quarterback play, but not Samuel. South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley is one of the nation’s top quarterbacks. Against Notre Dame, Vanderbilt only gave up two plays of over twenty yards, and the Commodores will look to keep that momentum against South Carolina. They will rely on Williams to contain Samuel, hoping to prevent chunk plays.

Ke’Shawn Vaughn vs. Running Back by Committee

It is becoming hard to justify an even split of carries between running backs Khari Blasingame and Ke’Shawn Vaughn.

Vaughn is now averaging over six yards per carry and has broken off a long touchdown run in each of the last two games. On the other hand, Blasingame has value as a bruiser; perhaps his power running wears down defenses and helps create opportunities for Vaughn. Even so, Vaughn’s production indicates he should be getting a larger share of the workload.

Another good way to get Vaughn involved would be in the passing game, as he only has four receptions on the season. Checking the ball down to Vaughn and allowing him to start with the ball in space could be a low-risk way to stay ahead of the chains. Against a team like South Carolina, Vaughn could get an expanded workload.

 

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