September 14, 2008
The Five Anchors
Several players played key roles in Vanderbilt's 38-21 win over the Rice Owls on Saturday. This season, after every Commodore win, VandySports.com will recognize who the site publisher's believed were the top five contributors to each victory in a feature we call, The Five Anchors.
VandySports.com's Five Anchors for victory over Rice.
Position: Offensive Guard
Why he gets an Anchor: The most experienced letterman in the Commodores young linebacking corps, Benoist came up big when Vanderbilt's defense needed him to on Thursday. The Texas native was in on many tackles and used his speed to get a key sack late in the second quarter, forcing the Gamecocks settle for a field goal. Benoist also had two other tackles for loss, and was a force in run protection for most of the night. He also made a key pass strip on South Carolina's Jared Cook. Considered one of the smartest linebackers to play under position coach Warren Belin, Benoist showed great leadership and confidence during the victory.
Why he gets an Anchor: Junior defensive tackle was constantly using his hands to create seperation from the Gamecocks interior offensive linemen and turned in a career game stat wise. Registered six total tackles and the first two sacks of his career. He also made possibly one of the plays of the game when he blocked a South Carolina field goal attempt in the second half. Billinger also tipped two more passes at the line of scrimmage during the game, though both tipped passes still managed to find the hands of Carolina receivers. Billinger's ability to fill the gaps as well as constant fight in the backfield, resulted in possibly the best overall defensive line play at Vanderbilt in a number of years.
Position: Running Back
Why he gets an Anchor: The fourth-year junior made several key plays during the course of the game, but possibly made the play of the game when he landed on a muffed punt by the South Carolina return team. Hamilton often found himself matched up against the Gamecocks athletic Jared Cook, and though there were a few moments where Cook got the best of him, Hamilton did keep most of the action in front of him. Showed solid leadership while the secondary was suffering from injuries and cramps during the second half. Also caused a Mike Davis fumble during South Carolina's first offensive possession of the second half, helping to get the Vanderbilt defense off to a strong start during the final stanza.
Why he gets an Anchor: The junior tailback proved to be a fourth quarter weapon. After only receiving five carries for 18 yards during the first half, Hawkins got the opportunity to turn it on during the second half as the Spring, Texas native gave the Commodores 66 yards on 12 carries, including 54 yards in the fourth quarter. Hawkins used his decisive, hard running style to find the end-zone on a 13-yard score. The touchdown proved to be the game clinching score for the Commodores. Hawkins also racked up nearly 25 yards on Vanderbilt's final possession, earning two first downs and allowing the Commodores to run out the clock and claim the win. He was named ESPN's Player of the Game.
Position: Right Tackle
Why he gets an Anchor: The senior Defensive captain directed a unit that kept most of the action in front of them and produced turnovers. Langford picked off his nineth career pass in the first half, stopping the Gamecocks while they were in Vanderbilt territory. Langford was also solid in run protection. Suffered through some cramps during the second half, and his absence was quite noticeable. Also knocked down another pass, that could've resulted in his second interception for the game. Vanderbilt's defense carried the Commodores during much of the first half, and as the defense's leader, Langford kept the team in position to make their comeback in the second half.
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