When and where: October 26, 2019, Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, TN, 4:00 PM ET
After a fierce battle with Alabama, the Tennessee Volunteers hope to get back on the winning track on Saturday, when hosting the visiting South Carolina Gamecocks. There have been talks about poor officiating in the fallout from the Volunteers’ 35-13 loss to Alabama, but it’s time for coach Jeremy Pruitt to bury that nonsense and move on to planning for another conference opponent. South Carolina gave No. 9 Florida all they could handle, despite ultimately coming up short in a 38-27 loss.
South Carolina wilts in fourth quarterThis hasn’t been the best week for the Gamecocks, following a disheartening loss to Florida. On Tuesday, it was announced the program was being put on one-year probation due to an “impermissible off-campus contract” involving a recruit and an assistant coach.
It surely wasn’t nearly as impermissible as the Gamecocks poor defensive play that led to Florida racking up 21 points in the fourth quarter and avoiding the upset last week. Imagine the buzz around South Carolina if the Gamecocks would have beaten Georgia and Florida in back-to-back weeks.
But we’ll never know.
The big question is whether they’re able to get back up psychologically for a meeting with the Volunteers on Saturday. Senior tailback Tavien Feaster is coming off a monster 175-yard rushing performance, and he’ll be looking to plow over a Volunteers run defense allowing 156.9 yards on the ground per game. The less you hear from freshman Ryan Hilinski is usually a good thing. Tennessee’s defense has their fair share of problems, but they stood in tough against Alabama, even when Tua Tagovailoa was on the field.
Hilinski has to play smart football on the road and avoid costly turnovers. He could be forced to do so without Rico Dowdle coming out of the backfield. The senior tailback is the thunder to Feaster’s lightning, and he is officially listed as doubtful with a knee injury. Leading receiver Bryan Edwards is also questionable with an ankle ailment, along with standout defensive lineman Aaron Sterling, who is working his way back from a knee injury.
Tennessee hoping Alabama game sparks a turnaroundEven in a defeat, there are some positives for the Volunteers to take away from their heartfelt effort against the Crimson Tide last week. If not for bad penalties and mental mistakes, the final score would have been much closer than it ended up being. Of course, Pruitt also has to be upfront and honest with his team instead of calling out the officiating.
Great teams don’t make the kind of back-breaking mistakes the Volunteers made in that game. So they certainly have some growing to do.
Head Coach Jeremy Pruitt holds his weekly press conference https://t.co/bkBhsNFGNF— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) October 21, 2019
They can start against a Gamecocks pass defense that has given up 15 touchdown passes through the air. Volunteers star receiver Jauan Jennings should be licking his chops for his chance to exploit the third-worst passing defense in the SEC. However, quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, assuming he starts on Saturday, has to avoid forcing throws because the Gamecocks are opportunistic in takeaways. They’ve already picked off nine passes in the season, including a red zone throw from Tagovailoa.
Volunteers starting quarterback Brian Maurer is still questionable for Saturday’s game after getting knocked out of the meeting against Alabama with a concussion.
On the defensive side of the ball, Tennessee has to figure out a way to generate some pass rush and get Hilinski moving around with happy feet in the pocket. Turnovers are the perfect way to rattle the Gamecocks offense early in a road game. They have to show the same scrappy defensive play they showed against Alabama.
- Gamecocks are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games following an ATS loss.
- Gamecocks are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games following a straight up loss.
- Gamecocks are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 conference games.
- Gamecocks are 9-4-1 ATS in their last 14 road games.
- Volunteers are 5-15 ATS in their last 20 home games.
- Volunteers are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games after accumulating less than 170 yards passing in their previous game.
- Volunteers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 home games against a team with a losing road record.
- Volunteers are 0-6 ATS against a team with a losing record.