NASHVILLE, Tenn. - South Carolina earned a hard-fought 17-13 victory over Vanderbilt on Thursday night to open the college football season. The Gamecocks (1-0, 1-0) didn’t play well offensively, but the defense came away with some big plays and running back Marcus Lattimore had a pair of touchdowns.
South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier
Head coach Steve Spurrier
Opening comments … “I told Coach (James) Franklin after the game that he has a fast team, a well-conditioned team. They (Vanderbilt) played very hard and certainly had a chance to win the game. We made a few plays here and there, but didn’t do much at all really. We had one of the worst passing nights we’ve ever had, but Justice Cunningham made a huge catch and got a penalty on top of it. Marcus (Lattimore) was able to get his second touchdown after Connor (Shaw) made some super runs. It was a gutsy performance by Connor Shaw.
We couldn’t hit much passing so we had to just try and run and get a touchdown or two, let our defense play. Fortunately, our defense held them to 13. Shaq Wilson, of course, had that big interception early in the game and helped turn away three or seven points. It was another game we were behind going into the fourth quarter and somehow won it, so that’s a positive. Our guys didn’t give up and I think we’re in pretty good shape, but man I hope we can play a lot better offensively next week.”
On the team’s resiliency … “Like I said, we were behind going into the fourth and our guys kept playing, that was never a problem. The big catch by Justice Cunningham got us the seven points because I don’t think we got a first down in the third quarter. Connor (Shaw) just had a bruise, nothing was out or a sprain or a dislocation. He’ll be sore for a while, but I think he should be ok. He had some nice runs when he was hurting a little bit and that’s what it took. That last call, if we don’t make that first down who knows what happens.”
On Shaw’s “gutsiness” … “He had a gutsy performance tonight on the field and that’s all you can say. We weren’t throwing or catching real well, so we had to run the quarterback and run Marcus (Lattimore). That was about our offense and Justice Cunningham’s catch. That’s about it.”
On shuffling the offensive line … “One guy was pretty tired, the left tackle Brandon (Shell). He’s a youngster. It was hot and humid out there, so we got Cody (Gibson) in there a little bit. He was probably just a little tired. Carrying 325 pounds around all night, of course it was the first time he’s ever played. He struggled a little bit, but give Vandy credit, they are fast up front. Their defense is pretty good. I thought we could throw some passes here and there, but we were just a little off. They played us toe-to-toe, no question about it.”
South Carolina players
Lattimore on Vanderbilt’s defense … "Coming into the game, I knew they were going to be tough. D-line is always going to give 100% on every play, linebackers were good. I knew coming into the game how good they were going to be and they lived up to their hype. It's a great team that's going to have a great year."
South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw
Shaw on how he came back from his injury … "They gave me some medicine. I got a ball and just started working out, I didn't want it to get stiff on me. It was painful, but I got through it."
Shaw on Lattimore’s return … "It's so nice. I knew that he was going to be able to come out here and pick up where he left off. He had a great game tonight."
Shaw on winning the opener … "It wasn't too pretty, but we'll take the win, especially against Vanderbilt in this place."
Vanderbilt coach James Franklin
Opening comments “It was a great atmosphere. Tonight was a really good picture and vision of what Vanderbilt can be… We lost to a good football team. We had opportunities early in the game and should have been up 10-0 [early on] with momentum. It could have been a completely different game. We had opportunities to put together a significant win and didn’t get it done.”
“On offense, we have to consistently be able to make plays. Good football teams get the ball back at the end of a game and run it out with a great running back. Even with that tonight, we had a chance to win… It was 17-13 tonight. We are 0-1 this week. We had an opportunity to win this game, but we’ll move on to next week.”
On capitalizing on turnovers … “We have to take care of those opportunities and not have to win the game in the fourth quarter. We have to make sure that when our defense makes plays and gets a turnover in the red zone, we capitalize.”
On Vanderbilt’s progress … “For the last 20 months, we’ve gotten better every day. Look at the game last year against South Carolina and then look at the game this year against South Carolina. I’m proud with our progress and there’s a lot to build on… We have to find ways to capitalize on opponents’ [mistakes]. At some point, we are going to have to find a way to win these tough games.”
On Vanderbilt’s close losses …[/b] “We’re trying to create a culture of winning. When you do that, guys find a way to get the job done… Tonight, we had a top 10 opponent down to the last second and had a chance to win.”
Chase Garnham on South Carolina’s run game … We’ve got to do a better job on gap integrity and filling gaps on zone reads. Lattimore looked very healthy to me, and even better than last year. He’s a great back and runs with a tremendous power level. But, we have to do a better job of stopping the run and getting that fixed this week. I don’t think it had anything to do with us wearing down.
On Shaw… Shaw is a tough kid. I was really impressed with his toughness. He got bumped up a little bit, but he fought through it. They did a really tremendous job of running the zone read, and we had problems stopping that. He’s a really good runner; he was a lot faster than I anticipated. I was impressed.
Jordan Rodgers on the last pass play with Jordan Matthews … They gave us a look we had been seeing in film, and we tried to give Jordan the chance to make a play. We had been working on that concept in practice: just giving Jordan chances to make plays. He did the rest.
On South Carolina’s pass rush … They have a really good defensive line, we knew that in film. They’re big, they’re long, they’re physical. I think our offensive line did a great job, but what made it tough was our timing. Our timing was off in man coverage. It takes me longer to go through reads when that happens, and that puts more stress on the offensive line. That’s on me, I need to be able to get the ball out of my hands. But overall, I think the offensive line did a great job. We just need to find a way to finish close games, and we’re done losing close games we know we could have finished. We beat ourselves tonight and we’re not going to let that happen again.
Jordan Matthews on his touchdown … The play was there; the protection was great by the offensive line; the pass was great by (Jordan Rodgers)… I just had to do my job. When you have everybody on the same page, good stuff happens.
Javon Marshall on early South Carolina turnovers … We got a great lift… the two turnovers gave us tremendous confidence, but in the end we just have to finish the game.
Quotes compiled by USC Sports Information