South Carolina can't afford loss to Vanderbilt

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier says with better coaching his young defense can only improve. The first test is Vanderbilt.



COLUMBIA — No. 13 South Carolina is facing a back-to-the-wall situation and Steve Spurrier hopes his Gamecocks respond against Vanderbilt tonight.

The Gamecocks (1-1, 0-1 Southeastern Conference) must defeat the Commodores (1-1, 0-1) or risk falling into a 0-2 hole in the East Division of the Southeastern Conference, something nearly impossible to climb out of. Georgia appeared on the ropes last week after its opening-game defeat at Clemson, yet the ninth-ranked Bulldogs rallied to put up 536 yards on the Gamecocks in a 41-30 victory.

“We all know you have to have the ability to forget what happened last week, whether it’s good or bad. Move on and try to improve as the season goes,” Spurrier said. “This team should improve with all the youngsters we have playing, especially on defense. They should improve. If we can coach worth a flip, we’ll get better and better as we go.”

Spurrier called it a “bad coaching day” at Georgia all around. Defensive assistants Kirk Botkin and Deke Adams got into a sidelines’ shouting match, and while Clowney had his first sack of the season, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray was able to scramble away at key moments and keep the Bulldogs on the move.

Vanderbilt coach James Franklin expects a strong effort from Clowney and the Gamecocks defense.

Vanderbilt gained 62 yards rushing at home in falling to the Gamecocks last year.

“The biggest thing is to be aware of him,” Franklin said of Clowney. “He is going to have an impact in the game, but what you can’t afford him to do is have a huge impact on the game.”