Ralph Webb

Associated Press

NC State smashes Vanderbilt in Independence Bowl rout

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NC State was too much for Vanderbilt on Monday night. More specifically, the pitch-and-catch combination of Ryan Finley-to-Jaylen Samuels was too much for Vanderbilt, as the Wolfpack raced to a 41-17 Independence Bowl victory in Shreveport, La.

Finley and Samuels hooked up six times for 104 yards and three decisive touchdowns on the night. The first came at the 9:08 mark of the second quarter, a 9-yard strike to put NC State on top 7-3, handing the club a lead it would not relinquish. The second connection came nearly eight minutes later, a 55-yard snatch-and-dash that all but put the game out of reach at 14-3.

After a 5-yard scoring rush by Reggie Gallaspy II pushed the lead to 21-3, Finley’s third and final strike to Samuels, a 17-yard connection, put the game out of reach with 5:34 still to play in the third quarter.

Vanderbilt briefly climbed back in the game when Ralph Webb posted a 30-yard touchdown run and Khari Blasingame bulled in from the 1-yard line to pull the Commodores within 28-17 with 10:37 left in the game, but NC State (7-6) immediately ended any comeback hopes when Nyheim Hines raced the ensuing kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown.

Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmer provided NC State its final score of the night when Niles Clark returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown as time expired. Shurmur finished the night hitting 19-of-46 passes for 158 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions. Vanderbilt (6-7) managed 156 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 4.5 yards per carry.

Finley closed his season connecting on 19-of-30 passes for 235 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Matthew Dayes led the Pack on the ground with nine carries for 47 yards.

The win pushed the ACC to 2-0 in bowl games pitting 6-6 teams and clinched at least a .500 record for the conference against the SEC in 2016. The ACC is now 7-3 against its southeastern rival with three games and the possibility of a Clemson-Alabama CFP national championship still remaining.

South Carolina comeback gives Will Muschamp win over Vanderbilt

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Will Muschamp is hoping his second stint as a head coach goes better than his first.

He’s off to a good start.

South Carolina put together back-to-back scoring drives in the 4th quarter and took advantage of several second half mistakes by Vanderbilt to sneak out of Nashville with a 13-10 win. The game was every bit of a struggle to watch as the score would indicate and the two teams picked to finish at the bottom of the SEC East certainly won’t cause anybody to change their predictions of that happening after seeing the opener.

Vanderbilt began the game well, jumping out to a 10 point lead behind the strong running game of Ralph Webb (97 yards on the night) and Khari Blasingame (68 yards and a score). But things went downhill from there, with six straight three-and-out possessions at one point and a missed 45 yard field goal attempt late in the 4th quarter. Quarterback Kyle Shurmur was ineffective after flashing potential early, going just 8-of-22 on the night with 73 yards passing.

A 10 point lead looked like it would hold up though with such a tough Commodores defense limiting South Carolina on nearly every play. Gamecocks quarterback Perry Orth started behind center and was able to move the chains with his arm at times but he was spelled by freshman Brandon McIllwain throughout the night in order to bring more of a rushing threat to the offense.

In the end, both did enough down the stretch of the 4th quarter to get kicker Elliott Fry within range for a late field goal. The kick sailed through the uprights from 55 yards out but would have been good from 65 and was just enough to give South Carolina a wild comeback victory in Muschamp’s debut with the team.

The loss will prompt plenty of questions for Commodores head coach Derek Mason as the offense struggled once again to get going, wasting another good defensive effort. The decision to go for a long field goal (which missed) in the 4th quarter also set up Fry’s kick that proved to be the eventual game winner too.

It could still be a long season for South Carolina as they try to find their footing with a tough SEC schedule but Thursday night was no doubt a nice start for the new head coach.

Player attendees for SEC Media Days revealed

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Yet another sign that a new season is quickly coming up on the horizon?  Media days attendees get full-blown attention.

The first Power Five conference up on the Media Days circuit in 2016 is the SEC, so that conference also becomes the first to reveal which players each of its 14 teams will send to the July 11-14 event in Hoover, Ala.  A total of 42 players, along with their head coaches, will be made available to the media throughout the four-day football kickoff.

In what may tell you something about the state of the quarterback position in the conference, just three signal-callers — Tennessee’s Josh Dobbs, Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly, Texas A&M’s Trevor Knight — will attend.  Conversely, five tight ends will be a part of the festivities.

Being invited by your team is considered an honor and thus leans heavily toward seniors, and such is the case this year as 29 players listed as being part of that class will take part.  There are 12 juniors in the group, meaning there’s only one non-upperclassman — South Carolina sophomore wide receiver Deebo Samuel.

Alabama
Jonathan Allen, Sr., DL
O.J. Howard, Sr., TE
Eddie Jackson, Sr., DB

Arkansas
Brooks Ellis, Sr., LB
Jeremy Sprinkle, Sr., TE
Deatrich Wise Jr., Sr., DL

Auburn
Montravius Adams, Sr., DL
Marcus Davis, Sr., WR
Carl Lawson, Jr., DL

Florida
Jarrad Davis, Sr., LB
Marcus Maye, Sr., DB
David Sharpe, Jr., OL

Georgia
Jeb Blazevich, Jr., TE
Brandon Kublanow, Sr., C/OG
Dominick Sanders, Jr., SS

Kentucky
Jojo Kemp, Sr., RB
Courtney Love, Jr., LB
Jon Toth, Sr., C

LSU
Leonard Fournette, Jr., RB
Ethan Pocic, Sr., C
Tre’Davious White, Sr., DB

Ole Miss
Evan Engram, Sr., TE
D.J. Jones, Sr., DT
Chad Kelly, Sr., QB

Mississippi State
Richie Brown, Sr., LB
A.J. Jefferson, Sr., DL
Fred Ross, Sr., WR

Missouri
Sean Culkin, Sr., TE
Charles Harris, Jr., DE
Michael Scherer, Sr., LB

South Carolina
Marquavius Lewis, Sr., DL
Deebo Samuel, So., WR
Mason Zandi, Sr., OL

Tennessee
Joshua Dobbs, Sr., QB
Jalen Reeves‐Maybin, Sr., LB
Cameron Sutton, Sr., DB

Texas A&M
Myles Garrett, Jr., DL
Trevor Knight, Sr., QB
Ricky Seals‐Jones, Jr., WR

Vanderbilt
Oren Burks, Jr., LB
Zach Cunningham, Jr., LB
Ralph Webb, Jr., RB