By: The All Vol Call in Show Staff
In the famous words of Alice in Chains, "here they come to snuff the rooster." Tennessee finds itself back at home this week, fresh off the heels of a substantial SEC road win over the Missouri Tigers last week. The Vols put up over 600 yards of offense, while limiting Missouri's potent offense, giving way to a blowout victory.
Tennessee will face a much less potent offense this week, with the Gamecocks coming into Neyland Stadium with the 103rd ranked offense in the country. On the other hand, South Carolina's defense is much better than Missouri's, coming in ranked 25th in the country.
The Gamecocks come to Knoxville bolstering a record of 3-2 (0-2), with losses to (2)Georgia and (16)Kentucky in the conference, with wins coming against subpar competition. They defeated Eastern Illinois in their season opener 46-0, followed by a three-point win against ECU in their second game of the season, and last week's 23-14 win over Troy.
John Dunn (Founder/Managing Editor/Host):
Tennessee proved last week that with Hendon Hooker under center, they can score with anyone in the country. Hooker showed the ability to deliver the ball down field, accurately and on-time, which will allow offensive mastermind Josh Heupel to open up his playbook. Against a porous Missouri defense, the Vols were able to run the ball down the Tigers' throats. South Carolina's defensive front is much stronger, and will pose more of a threat to Tennessee's running game.
However, it will be hard to stop a dynamic running back like Tiyon Evans. Evans' ability to find a hole, and utilize his separation speed should allow Tennessee's leading rusher to have another good day on the ground. If Hooker can find success through the air, Tennessee should have no problem scoring on South Carolina. Following last week's performance, the Vols moved into the 10th spot in the nation for total offense. If they play to their capability, it's going to be a long day for the Gamecocks.
Defensively, I expect Tennessee to have no issues containing an ailing South Carolina offense. Although the Vols' defense ranks 50th in the country, they have played much better at times, especially in special teams.
After announcing the "dark mode" black uniforms this week, I fully expect the Vols to come out with a ferocity that has yet to be seen this season -- which is horrifying if you're a Gamecocks fan. I said it before last week's game, and I'll say it again: this is an opportunity for Tennessee to bury another SEC opponent. This one gets ugly.
Prediction: Tennessee - 55 | South Carolina - 17
Darrell Winstead (Junior Staff Writer):
Last week versus Missouri was the feel-good game of the season for us Vol fans. After years of watching our beloved team underperform, it only took a blowout win to reel us back in. This upcoming Saturday we have yet another opportunity to watch Tennessee win in blow-out fashion versus South Carolina. Tennessee leads the all-time series 27-10-2 and will be looking to extend their win streak to three over the Gamecocks. This is a series that first began way back in 1903, but wasn’t an every-year contest until 1992 when South Carolina formally joined the SEC. The Vols dominated the series from 1993 to 2004, winning 12 consecutive games, which is the longest streak of this series.
The Vols (3-2) led by their new head coach Josh Heupel, will be hosting South Carolina at home where Tennessee holds a 17-3 record all time. Tennessee comes into the game averaging an outstanding 40.8 ppg (10th nationally) and allowing 21.8 ppg (49th nationally). All three of Tennessee’s wins have been blowouts where they have won by an average of 42 points. In their two losses, it’s been a different story though as they have allowed 39.5 ppg. Despite that, they had their chance to beat Pittsburgh and led Florida deep into 2nd quarter. Missed opportunities and penalties cost them shots at winning both of those games.
Led by their new head coach Shane Beamer, South Carolina (3-2) comes to Knoxville looking to secure their first SEC win of the season. Unlike the Vols, South Carolina has struggled to put points on the board (22.4, 103rd nationally), except for a week one blowout of Div-II Eastern Illinois. Outside of giving up 40 points to the Georgia Bulldogs, the Gamecocks have played fairly stingy on defense allowing just 17.4 ppg (24th nationally)
This game has been traditionally played around Halloween each season and some weird things have happened over the years. This year it takes place at the beginning of October, but there will be some black magic in the air. So what does all this mean for the Vols when Saturday rolls around? Well, they need to follow the same game plan as last week and run the damn ball early and often. South Carolina is giving up 142.8 yards per game rushing and Tennessee is coming off a win where they exploited Missouri’s run defense for 458 yards and 5 TDs and took their shots in the passing game off that.
This is how the Vols can dominate for the second week in a row. This is how the Vols can show their fans they are on the way back to glory. This is how the Vols begin to show the nation that things have changed and they are cashing all those receipts they have kept.
Prediction: Tennessee - 33 | South Carolina - 16
Zac Strickland (Junior Staff Writer):
The fireworks displayed in the Mizzou blowout were just what the doctor ordered for the Tennessee football program. A renewed sense of enthusiasm has returned amongst the Volunteer faithful as the team returns to the friendly confines of Neyland Stadium… in “DARK MODE”.
One may ask why the black jerseys couldn’t wait until the much tougher Ole Miss game, a night game against former coach Lane Kiffin, who first used the black unis, but I digress. The Vols can’t allow the shiny new threads (or anything else, for that matter) to be a distraction, since they still aren’t good enough to overlook anyone. However, South Carolina is quite frankly not a great football team, and Tennessee should be expected to take care of business in this game.
QB Luke Doty has struggled with consistency, and the running game appears to have taken a step back from last year. The strength of this Gamecocks team is their front seven and their ability to force turnovers. It will be incumbent upon Hendon Hooker to play a clean game, and the offensive line to protect him so he isn’t pressured into making mistakes. While the offense likely won’t move quite as effortlessly as last week, the improving defense should turn in a fine performance against a pedestrian Carolina offense that regularly struggles to break 20 points. This score mirrors the 2009 black jersey score.
Prediction: Tennessee - 31 | South Carolina - 13
Dallas Bowlin (Junior Staff Writer):
The Vols took care of business last Saturday against the Tigers, now they look to do the same against the Gamecocks. South Carolina is currently second to last in the SEC East standings, at 3-2 their most impressive win has to be Troy by default, as they are the only team to have won a game this season.
The Gamecocks do rank first in the SEC in interceptions so valuing the football will be key for Hendon Hooker and the Tennessee offense. On the flip side, South Carolina’s offense ranks 13th in the SEC, while the Vols rank third. Something has to give, and I think the Vols explosive rushing attack will prove to be too much for South Carolina to handle on the scoreboard.
Prediction: Tennessee 24 | South Carolina 13
William Allen (Senior Staff Writer):
The Gamecocks are coming in 3-2 overall and 0-2 in SEC play. Shane Beamer’s team has looked unimpressive in wins over Eastern Illinois, ECU and Troy. Tennessee has found its identity and a quarterback in Hendon Hooker after a 62-24 win versus Missouri. Taking a look at the Vols' losses versus Pittsburgh and Florida, there’s much more ambition and pride in the way Tennessee has performed on the football field.
Josh Heupel is coaching his players to believe they can win any game if they play harder than their opponent for all four quarters. FBS rankings have South Carolina at 103rd with 22.4 points per game, while Tennessee is 10th at 40.8 points per game this season. Passing yards per game haven’t been a strength for either team, but defensively South Carolina holds a slight edge over the Volunteers.
Prediction: Tennessee 42 | South Carolina 21
Joe Davis (Junior Staff Writer):
The South Carolina Gamecocks hunt and peck their way into Neyland Stadium Saturday for a game that holds a special place in my heart. The very first Tennessee game I ever attended was in 1998 at Williams-Brice Stadium. The Vols were ranked #1 at the time and Tee Martin completed about 847 straight passes as UT blew out the Gamecocks that day. I don't expect a similar performance from Hendon Hooker on Saturday, but I do expect a victory nonetheless. I was at the USC-UGA game earlier this season and the Gamecocks seemed to have receivers open, but they just couldn't hit them. If they can keep pressure off quarterback Luke Doty they may be able to stay in this one, but I dont think it's likely.
Also, my young stepsons, Andrew and Elijah, are enormous USC fans and they said Carolina will win by 40, and Doty will throw for 400 yards. So there's that. Me personally, I think South Carolina has yet to show a real offensive identity, and has a tendency to shoot themselves in the foot with penalties and mistakes. Add in the fact Hendon Hooker and the boys are extremely confident coming off a drubbing of Missouri, have really started to execute this offense well, and the fan base will be jacked about the unveiling of a new alternate black uniform and I think it's just going to be too much for Carolina to overcome.
Prediction: Tennessee - 38 | South Carolina - 17