Five Keys to Victory – Tennessee

The South Carolina Gamecocks (6-4) take on the Tennessee Vols (9-1) at Williams-Brice Stadium tomorrow night. Kick-off is scheduled for just after 7:00 p.m. and the game will be televised by ESPN. This article looks at five things the Gamecocks need to do well to create the massive excitement.

1. bend does not break – The South Carolina defense is struggling mightily to stop the run in this game and the Vols will no doubt look to exploit that weakness in this contest. To make matters worse, Tennessee doesn’t just have one mobile quarterback Hendon hooker, but they also have by far the best passing game the Gamecocks have faced this season, and it’s a passing game that can hit for big game after big game. There’s almost no chance of Clayton White’s group silencing the Vols’ offense, but they need to find a way to limit big plays and get stuck in the red zone as much as possible.

2. Offensively change the approach – If offensive coordinator Markus Satterfield adopting the same approach to offense that he’s had in virtually every game this season, the Gamecocks will be driven out of their own stadium and it could be over by halftime. Satterfield must develop a game plan to catch Tennessee off guard and allow the offense to stay on the field and score more points than expected. Otherwise, the pace and productivity of the Tennessee offense will quickly wear down the Gamecock defense.

3. Win the sales battle with a clear lead – South Carolina must protect football on offense and force multiple turnovers on defense and/or special teams. The only way for the Gamecocks to make this a fourth quarter game is to win the turnover fight by a significant margin and convert those turnovers into touchdowns as often as possible.

4. Win at the line of scrimmage – Last week against Florida, the Gators controlled both lines of scrimmage and that was the main reason the Gamecocks never stood a chance. They need to bounce back on both sides of the ball this week and find a way to get their best performance of the season in attack.

5. Turn up – This is an opportunity for the Gamecocks to let it all out in all three stages. Trick plays, new plays, new staff sets, total blitzes, fake punts, fake field goals. Whatever it takes to create more scoring chances and take away Tennessee’s scoring chances. The best defense for an offense like the Vols’ is to keep them on the touchline as much as possible, so possession time will be critical for the Gamecocks as well.

Final analysis – Objectively, from South Carolina’s perspective, there’s nothing to like about this matchup other than that the game will be played at Williams-Brice Stadium at night. Tennessee is significantly more talented, better trained, more explosive, and despite losing to Georgie and their subsequent elimination from the SEC Championship game, they put so much momentum into this game.

I can only imagine this being a fourth quarter game when the Vols just take the Gamecocks too lightly and Shane Beamer’s squad gets a lot of breaks. Neither is likely, and I have no faith in the ability of a Satterfield-led offense to score enough points to stay with the Vols. South Carolina might be able to generate some momentum early on, but I think Tennessee will pump it up as the game progresses.

forecast – Tennessee 59 – South Carolina 17