USC Gamecocks Football

Scouting South Carolina’s next opponent: Tennessee

What went wrong for Gamecocks vs. Texas A&M?

South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp talks about the Gamecocks' self-inflicted wounds.
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South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp talks about the Gamecocks' self-inflicted wounds.

Tennessee (3-4, 1-3 SEC) at South Carolina (3-3, 2-3)

When: 7:30 p.m.

Where: Williams-Brice Stadium

TV: SEC Network

Three storylines

South Carolina is 3-0 under Coach Will Muschamp following a bye week, including a 37-14 win over Vanderbilt on Sept. 22 that still serves as USC’s most dominating performance of the season. The Gamecocks could use another complete effort as it kicks off this year’s second half.

At last seen, Jake Bentley was completing one of the more roller coaster ride games of his career. He was booed in the first half, rallied in the third quarter and then ultimately came up short as the Gamecocks lost to Texas A&M, 26-23. Just two years ago, Bentley came out of a bye and started for the first time. He’s experience some success since, but this junior season hasn’t gone to plan. Can he keep fans from calling for Michael Scarnecchia on Saturday?

Tennessee has had a roller coaster few weeks of its own, upsetting Auburn on the road two weeks ago to snap an 11-game conference losing streak and give coach Jeremy Pruitt his first SEC win. This past weekend, the Vols came crashing back to earth as Alabama did what Alabama does and crushed them, 58-21. So the question is whether or not UT has any momentum left from its big Auburn win, or did Bama beat that out of them?

Three Tennessee players to watch

Freshman defensive back Bryce Thompson, a native of Irmo, was a South Carolina commit and one of the best recruits in the class of 2018 for Will Muschamp. However, academic issues derailed his plans to sign with the Gamecocks, and he ended up at Tennessee instead, where he has put together an outstanding rookie campaign, playing every game and recording 21 total tackles, two for loss, to go with two interceptions, three pass breakups and a forced fumble. His return to Columbia should be an emotional one, regardless of result.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jarrett Guarantano was injured against Alabama, came out, and his veteran backup, Keller Chryst, orchestrated a pair of scoring drives. Now, coach Jeremy Pruitt says Guarantano will come back as the starter against USC, and some Vols fans are unhappy, thinking the backup should get a chance. Sound familiar, Gamecock fans? Guarantano, like Jake Bentley, has hardly dazzled this year, throwing just six touchdown passes and 1,192 yards in seven games. At Williams-Brice Stadium, he could be playing for his job, and Chryst could be playing his way into one.

Sophomore running back Ty Chandler is Tennessee’s do-everything player — 318 rushing yards, 154 receiving yards and 86 return yards to go with four total touchdowns on the season, more than any other Vol. He also averages 4.9 yards per rush and 12.8 yards per catch.