Josh Kendall

USC defenders split on strength of Tennessee’s top tailback

dmclemore@thestate.com

How good is Tennessee tailback Jalen Hurd?

It depends on who you ask.

“He’s probably one of the most dominant running backs we are going to face this year, great speed, great power, great vision,” South Carolina defensive lineman Dante Sawyer said. “He’s one of those guys we have to watch out for.”

South Carolina cornerback Chris Lammons has a slightly different view.

“He’s a good back, but we have seen probably better backs like Nick Chubb, Sony Michel,” Lammons said.

Hurd is the Volunteers’ starting tailback. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound junior entered the season as a second-team All-SEC selection but has averaged only 3.8 yards per carry this season. Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp, of course, is preparing for the best version of Hurd, who rushed for 1,288 yards last year.

“Jalen Hurd, I mean he’ll run through you. We better put our big boy pads on and get ready to tackle this guy,” Muschamp said. “Tough, physical, competitive and will fight for every yard. We have to get a bunch of hats around the ball and gang-tackle this guy.”

Tennessee junior running back Alvin Kamara has been the Vols’ most impressive back this season (averaging 4.9 yards per carry), but he won’t play against South Carolina due to a knee injury. Another name for South Carolina fans to watch is John Kelly. Tennessee’s sophomore back gained 89 yards on 13 carries against Texas A&M and will get opportunities with Kamara out of the lineup.

Game Info

Who: Tennessee (5-2, 2-2 SEC) vs. South Carolina (3-4, 1-4)

When: 7:15 p.m., Saturday

Where: Williams-Brice Stadium

TV: ESPN2 Radio: 107.5 FM

Line: Tennessee by 13

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