No More Kiffin to kick around
Former Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin was a target of venom in in the SEC, but in few places was he detested more than in South Carolina. Kiffin rubbed Gamecock fans the wrong way during a recruiting battle for wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. “I’m glad I’m here,” Jeffery said this week. “I ain’t talking about that.” There’s no sense in it really since Kiffin is gone, having bolted Knoxville after one season to Southern Cal, where he is 5-2.
This is not the Tennessee team that has tormented South Carolina for most of the past two decades. Tennessee is last in the SEC in rushing offense, total defense, sacks by, sacks against and red zone offense. It is 10th or 11th in scoring offense, scoring defense, total offense, kickoff returns, passing efficiency, first downs, third down conversions, opponents third down conversions and time of possession.
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The big boy is back
Freshman tailback Marcus Lattimore, who is third in the NCAA in scoring with 12 points per game, will return after missing last week’s game against Vanderbilt because of a sprained left ankle. Lattimore is four touchdowns behind Harold Green for the school’s single-season touchdown record. He is fifth in the SEC in rushing with 89.7 yards per game.
South Carolina is fifth in the country and first in the SEC in sacks with 24. Only four teams in the nation have given up more sacks than Tennessee’s 25. Tennessee quarterback Matt Simms already is nursing a sprained left knee; if he does play, his pain level is likely to increase as the day goes on. Tennessee is expected to also use freshman quarterback Tyler Bray.
Coaches and players are not supposed to look ahead, but we can. If the Gamecocks beat Tennessee, fans will be filing out quickly to turn on the Georgia-Florida game. If the Bulldogs beat the Gators, South Carolina will be one win from the SEC East title.