Tennessee vs. South Carolina – Match Preview – November 19, 2022

COLUMBIA, SC – – South Carolina coach Shane Beamer had a message for those wondering why Tennessee wide receiver Jalin Hyatt left town to play for the fifth-place Volunteers.

“I’ve certainly heard from people about what an idiot I am for not recruiting Jalin Hyatt,” said Beamer, the sophomore coach who was an Oklahoma assistant when Hyatt for Dutch Fork High School, about 20 Miles, outstanding was from the Gamecocks campus.

Hyatt and the Vols (9-1, 5-1 Southeastern Conference, No. 5 CFP) will look to kick things up Saturday night in front of friends and family in hometown South Carolina (6-4, 3-4).

Blame Lincoln Riley, then-Oklahoma coach, for not recruiting Hyatt “and whoever else was here,” Beamer continued. “For sure he is a fantastic player. What a year he has.”

Will Hyatt with 58 catches for 1,116 yards and 15 touchdownsbe ready for the moment?

“Yeah sure,” said Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker. “You know, every time you go home to play, it’s a great feeling.”

And maybe a little bittersweet.

Hyatt was among the best prep players at Palmetto State. He even showed up at Williams-Brice Stadium, notably with three touchdowns including one in OT as Dutch Fork won the 2019 state title.

But he wasn’t being pursued by his hometown school in part because former staffers, led by Will Muschamp, wondered if the 6-foot, 185-pound junior was a little too light for the sturdy SEC.

“You can see the intensity with which he plays when he catches the ball,” Hooker said. “He’s playing very physically right now”

South Carolina cornerback Cam Smith, who, like Hyatt, was a first-round NFL draft pick, can’t wait to slow down the talented Tennessee wideout.

“It’s definitely going to bring some excitement,” Smith said.

JUST LIKE PEYTON

Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker is among the five finalists for this season’s Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Awards. Hooker is the first Volunteers passer to make the final cut since Peyton Manning in 1997.

WHO RUNS THE BALL

South Carolina won four straight midseason games on strong running play led by jams MarShawn Lloyd and Christian Beal-Smith. But Lloyd missed the last two games with a thigh injury and Beal Smith missed last week’s loss in Florida with a lower body injury. The two combined for 751 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. Beamer said both hope to play this week but are limited in training.

LATE RESULT

With last week’s win over Missouri, Tennessee opted for one final touchdown with 36 seconds remaining in the 66-24 win. Vols coach Josh Heupel considered taking a knee but said his backups are mostly in the game.

“I don’t know what the right thing is at the end of the day at this moment, but our boys kept playing football,” said Heupel.

JUJU’S JOY

South Carolina reserve runner Juju McDowell was asked what it’s like to play at the Gamecocks’ home stadium, which will sell out for the sixth time in seven home games.

“Imagine you’re 9 years old and you’re walking down the street and someone hands you two tons of Reese’s (peanut butter cups),” McDowell said. “That feeling right there is exactly what we feel like every time.”

UNLOCK THE TAPE

Tennessee hooker had a career moment when he climbed the ladder to directing “Rocky Top” after last week’s Missouri win. Hooker went over to sing with his teammates when the band director asked him if he would like to lead the school’s famous song.

“I was a little scared going up the ladder with my studs, though,” Hooker said. “I was like. ‘I hope I don’t fall.'”

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