At every meeting with the media this week, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier has talked about how hard Tennessee plays.
He opened with that theme Tuesday during his weekly news conference. He touched on it again Wednesday during the SEC teleconference.
“Tennessee plays hard,” he said. “They play with a lot of effort.”
The unsaid implication both times seemed to be that Spurrier was wondering if his team matched that kind of intensity. Thursday, he basically said it has not. During his radio show, Spurrier was lamented what he sees a lack of “energy and enthusiasm” from the Gamecocks.
Looking for any avenue to increase that energy and enthusiasm, Spurrier has relented this week the players’ desire to wear black jerseys and black pants. We’ll find out tonight if it helps.
The Volunteers come to Williams-Brice Stadium at 7:30 p.m. What Spurrier has not stressed as much about Tennessee this week is that all that effort hasn’t gotten the Volunteers an SEC victory yet. Tennessee upset the Gamecocks last year in Neyland Stadium but is 1-8 in the SEC since then.
The Volunteer team that comes to Columbia won’t look a lot like the one that beat South Carolina last year. Tennessee lost its entire offensive line and the bulk of its defensive line from that team.
Statistically, the Volunteers are South Carolina’s mirror, a lot of defense and not much offense. Tennessee ranks No. 12 in the SEC in total offense with 332.4 yards per game and No. 6 in total defense with 343.8 yards per game allowed.
Maybe the best statistic of the game for South Carolina is sacks allowed. Put simply, the Volunteers young offensive line has been terrible. Tennessee is last in the SEC and next-to-last in the nation in sacks allowed with 32. That’s the reason regular starter Justin Worley won’t play today for the Volunteers. A shoulder injury will keep Worley out of the game, which may or may not be a good thing.
Worley is expected to be replaced by Josh Dobbs, who, unlike Worley, is very mobile. That mobility may have made Dobbs a better option against South Carolina anyway. The Gamecocks are last in the SEC and No. 118 in the nation in sacks with eight, and they have had trouble containing mobile players at the quarterback position.
My guess is South Carolina finds some of that spark Spurrier is looking for and some will be enough against a reeling Tennessee team. Gamecocks 28, Volunteers 14
Around the SEC
We’ll have to wait to see if Kenny “Trill” Hill has lost his starting job to freshman Kyle Allen.
This is a neat story about some parallels between the predicament Florida finds itself in now and a similar one that worked out OK 41 years ago.
Vanderbilt has started four quarterbacks this season. Yes, four. This is what their former quarterbacks think about that fact.
Georgia running back Keith Marshall, who was considered the better prospect in the recruiting class that included Todd Gurley, could play this week after missing more than half the season due to a sprained ankle.