Three Matchups to Watch: South Carolina Gamecocks


Trent Sherfield (10) and the Vanderbilt Commodores lose 13-10 against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Vanderbilt Stadium on September 1, 2016. Photo by Emily Goncalves.

Alyssa Muir

Following four consecutive losses, the Commodores used their bye week to regroup and move forward in their attempt to make a bowl game.

It will not be easy for them to get back in the win column as they head to South Carolina to face a confident 5-2 Gamecock team.

Here are three match-ups to look out for this Saturday.

RB Ralph Webb vs. LB T.J. Brunson

While not much went right for the Commodores in their most recent loss, a 57-35 blowout at the hands of Ole Miss, the one positive was the resurgence of Ralph Webb. The senior running back had not run for over 55 yards in any of the previous six games, a big drop-off from his Junior season in which he rushed 1,283 total yards. However, against the Rebels, Webb ran for 163 yards and two touchdowns.

T.J. Brunson leads the South Carolina defensive unit which allows just over 19 points per game. The sophomore is first on his team and tied for fifth in the SEC in total tackles with 56 over his first seven games.

If the Commodores want to steal a victory in Columbia, they will need Webb to build off of his success in his previous outing in order to establish their run game early.

WR Trent Sherfield vs. DB Jamarcus King

While no Commodore receiver has had an off-the-charts season, Sherfield has emerged as quarterback Kyle Shurmur’s favorite target. The senior has 23 receptions for 399 yards to go along with two touchdowns. He is also averaging 17.3 yards per reception and had his longest reception of the season against Ole Miss, a 38 yard grab.

Senior Jamarcus King will spend a lot of time going up against Sherfield. King leads the Gamecock secondary with six pass deflections and one interception. He also has 25 tackles on the season.

South Carolina gives up 232 yards through the air per game, so the Commodore receivers should look to exploit this area throughout the game.

ILB Oren Burks vs. RB Ty’Son Williams

Oren Burks continues to be one of the premier defensive players in the SEC. The senior has 48 tackles for the year and seems to be everywhere on the field at all times. He is currently tied for eleventh in the SEC for total tackles.

Williams, the leading Gamecock rusher, has 328 yards on the ground this season and is averaging 5.5 yards per rush. He has also caught seven passes this season, with one going for a touchdown.

The biggest problem for the Commodores during their four game losing streak has been their inability to keep opponents from scoring. They are giving up just under 50 points a game during that time period. Look for the Commodore defense, led by Burks, to come out motivated and prepared to stop the Gamecocks and Williams on Saturday.