Using ESPN’s FPI (Football Power Index) as a guide, South Carolina (2-1, 1-1) has a 93.9 percent chance to beat Vanderbilt (1-2, 0-1) on Saturday.


What’s the best remedy for a struggling defense?

A bad offense.

South Carolina’s early-season tackling issues seemed to improve in last week’s win over Georgia, but the Gamecocks still gave up 35 points, didn’t force a turnover and allowed over 400 yards for the third straight game. As it stands, Lorenzo Ward’s unit is the SEC’s worst in total defense, scoring defense and total sacks and there’s not much on the bench as far as depth that will reverse a nasty recent trend.

If 14th-ranked South Carolina still considers itself an Eastern Division contender, improvement must happen and quickly.

Saturday’s game at Vanderbilt presents the most favorable matchup thus far coming in the form of a Commodores team struggling to get first downs, much less, points. Quarterback play has hampered Derek Mason’s squad in the early going, but he plans on sticking with sophomore Patton Robinette, so he says, for the time being.

If the Gamecocks can turn Vanderbilt into a one-dimensional punting machine by bottling up running back Ralph Webb, there’s a chance South Carolina won’t be last in nearly every statistical category on defense by the time it hosts Mizzou next weekend.

As a 21.5-point favorite, maybe Ward can experiment a bit with his defensive lineup.