Oct. 24, 2017
Vanderbilt’s trip to South Carolina is the Commodores’ second game of the team’s lone back-to-back road games this season.
Saturday’s game features two of the top passing offenses in the league with the Gamecocks ranking 3rd and VU ranking 5th.
Vanderbilt’s last win in Columbia came in 2007 over a sixth-ranked Gamecocks team, the highest ranked team VU has ever beaten.
RB Ralph Webb needs 46 yards to pass LSU’s Leonard Fournette, Auburn’s Carnell Williams and Kentucky’s Sonny Collins to move into 11th all-time in SEC rushing.
QB Kyle Shurmur needs one touchdown pass to equal Chris Nickson for seventh all-time at Vanderbilt and match the most by a VU quarterback in a single-season since Jordan Rodgers in 2012.
OLB Charles Wright is third in the SEC with six sacks.
S LaDarius Wiley ranks fourth in the league with 8.4 tackles per game.
LaDarius Wiley has been a consistent performer for the Commodores through the team’s first seven games, leading the squad with 59 tackles including a team-high 35 solo stops.
At Ole Miss, the junior registered a career-best nine solo tackles as part of an 11-tackle performance. The 11 tackles marked the fourth time this season Wiley has made 10+ stops. Prior to this season, he had one 10-tackle game against Florida last season, the only 10-tackle performance in his career.
Wiley ranks fourth in the league in tackles and is 59th in the nation with 8.4 tackles per game.
LIFE IN THE SEC
The first half of the Commodores’ SEC schedule showed the strength of the league with the Dores’ first four opponents combining for a 21-7 record to this point in the year.
Vanderbilt has played both No. 1 Alabama (8-0) and No. 3 Georgia (7-0) this season. Only the Commodores and Tennessee have played both teams to this point. Auburn is set to face the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs in two of the last three weeks of the season, hosting Georgia Nov. 11 and Alabama Nov. 25. Mississippi State dropped a game at Georgia and takes on the Tide Nov. 11.
The Commodores close the SEC schedule with South Carolina (5-2), Kentucky (5-2), Missouri (2-5) and Tennessee (3-4).
WEBB UP AND RUNNING
Ralph Webb is up and running after his performance at Ole Miss two weeks ago.
Vanderbilt’s all-time leading rusher endured a slow start to his senior season, running for 245 yards in the team’s first six games as the Commodores struggled to run the ball. But Webb bounced back with his best outing of the season against the Rebels, running for 163 yards and two scores on 23 carries. Webb’s 163 yards are the most in his career against a SEC opponent, eclipsing his 149 yards against Tennessee in 2015.
Webb’s first 100-yard game of the season pushed his school record total to 14.
The Gainesville, Fla. native can pass three more SEC running backs (LSU’s Leonard Fournette, Auburn’s Carnell Williams and Kentucky’s Sonny Collins) on the league’s all-time list this week with 46 yards to move into 11th place all-time.
He is 250 yards shy of becoming just the ninth running back in league history to run for 4,000 yards. Georgia’s Nick Chubb joined the club earlier this season.
The Commodores’ improvement in the passing game this season has been led by QB Kyle Shurmur and an experienced receiving corps.
The Dores bring the fifth-best passing attack in the league to South Carolina on Saturday, averaging 204.4 yards.
Through seven games, Shurmur and his pass catchers have recorded 22 passes of 20+ yards, including 10 catches for 30+ yards. Shurmur’s 21 passes of 20+ yards rank fourth in the SEC with his 10 passes of 30+ yards ranking sixth.
Trent Sherfield leads the squad with 399 receiving yards, just 73 yards shy of his total from 2016. C.J. Duncan’s 25 receptions leads the team while Kalija Lipscomb’s five TD receptions leads the way and ranks third in the SEC.
Eight different pass catchers have caught at least one pass of 20+ yards through seven games but the longest reception of the season is owned by running back Ralph Webb, who took a Shurmur pass 73 yards for six in the season-opener at Middle Tennessee.
Vanderbilt is one of only two teams to have teammates in the top 10, joining the Texas A&M trio of Otaro Alaka (1st), Tyrel Dodson (6th) and Armani Watts (7th). The Aggies lead the SEC with 56 tackles for loss.
Turnovers were a key component to the Commodores’ 3-0 start to the season with the Dores forcing five turnovers and committing just one for a +4 turnover margin.
During the team’s four-game slide, however, Vanderbilt has forced just one turnover – the team’s lone fumble recovery this season came against Georgia – while committing four turnovers (two vs. Alabama and two at Ole Miss).
Vanderbilt forced seven turnovers in the team’s second half surge last season, committing five during the 4-2 finish.