By: John Dunn
Founder, Managing Director, Producer, Host
The All Vol Call in Show
The Tennessee Volunteers play host to the South Carolina Gamecocks this Saturday with one thing in mind: revenge. Last season, South Carolina dashed Tennessee's playoff hopes in a game that would be Hendon Hooker's last game at the helm after tearing his ACL. With Tennessee yet to reach its maximum potential this season and the Gamecocks looking more than serviceable in some of their games, there's a lot on the line in this one.
Scoring offense: Tennessee - 37th | South Carolina - 70th
Passing Offense: Tennessee - 73rd | South Carolina - 8th
Rushing Offense: Tennessee - 8th | South Carolina - 126th
First Down Off: Tennessee - 64th | South Carolina - 75th
3rd Down Conv: Tennessee - 73rd | South Carolina - 63rd
Red Zone Off: Tennessee - 37th | South Carolina - 53rd
Total Offense: Tennessee - 24th | South Carolina - 53rd
The Gamecocks hold one advantage thus far through the season: passing offense. They are slightly better than the Vols on the third down conversion percentage, but aside from that, Tennessee holds the edge on offense; especially on the ground.
That tells me a few things: Tennessee should be able to control the T.O.P, and the pace of the game. If the Vols fail to succeed with speed, they can also slow the game down and run the ball against the Gamecocks seemingly at will. This will be one of Tennessee's keys to victory.
Scoring Defense: Tennessee - 29th | South Carolina - 81st
Pass Defense: Tennessee - 36th | South Carolina - 126th
Rush Defense: Tennessee - 42nd | South Carolina - 48th
1st Down Def: Tennessee - 64th | South Carolina - 75th
3rd Down Def: Tennessee - 48th | South Carolina - 94th
Red Zone Def: Tennessee - 36th | South Carolina - 70th
Total Defense: Tennessee - 27th | South Carolina - 121st
South Carolina's defense is absolutely awful. Think of Tennessee's pass defense last season; that's what the Gamecocks look like this season. They're in the bottom four programs in the nation against the pass. They're substantially better against the run, but still hover around the middle of the nation, along with the Vols. However, with Tennessee's potent rushing attack, that could be the main point of emphasis for South Carolina.
The Gamecocks rank fairly low in first down defense, third down defense, and red zone defense. This is an opportunity for Tennessee to find rhythm, build confidence, and build momentum for the season against a conference rival after falling in the Swamp earlier this season to a less-than-elite Florida team.
By the numbers, Tennessee is the much better team. However, many would contend that was the case last season. One could have also made the same argument for Tennessee v. Florida. The game between Tennessee and South Carolina has been extremely competitive over the last 15 years, often decided by less than a touchdown. This was not the case last year as South Carolina put an absolute drubbing on Tennessee. The same could be said about the 2021 season in which the Vols dismantled the Gamecocks.
A focal point for Tennessee will be running the ball. With Jaylen Wright a little dinged-up, Jabari Small and Dylan Sampson will likely split the work load. With a secondary that has played the way South Carolina's has so far this season, this is also a good opportunity for Josh Heupel to dial up some long bombs for Joe Milton. If Tennessee is able to find rhythm against South Carolina early, this game could easily get out of hand; especially given the emotional factors that play into this match up that have spilled over from last season. The fact that the game is in Neyland Stadium is also a huge bonus for Tennessee.
The Vols are faced with a huge opportunity to make a statement win against a divisional conference rival ahead of a much needed BYE week and a match up with Texas A&M. The only thing they have to do: execute.