Josh Kendall

Kendall’s pick: This would count as a big win on Elliott’s resume

South Carolina interim head coach Shawn Elliott
South Carolina interim head coach Shawn Elliott

Shawn Elliott checks a lot of the boxes South Carolina is looking for in its next head coach.

He’s young. He’s high energy. He’s a guy who will embrace the things that make the Gamecocks job unique. The team has made positive strides in Elliott’s three weeks as interim head coach, and he’s shown a lot of qualities that make you believe he can be an excellent head coach.

Now comes the hard part. If Elliott is going to have a chance to move from interim head coach to simply head coach, he’s going to have to get at least one big win. Sorry, but Vanderbilt doesn’t count. Elliott is a long shot to get the permanent job. If he’s going to have any shot, he’s got to get a victory over Tennessee, Florida or Clemson, and maybe more than one of them.

The Volunteers, Saturday’s opponent, are a 17-point favorite. The Tennessee team that many people expected to see early in the season is finally emerging from the wreckage of several blown leads in the first half of the season. The Volunteers are third in the SEC in scoring (36.1 points per game), second in rushing (214.13 yards per game) and eighth in passing offense (210 yards per game). The prospect of that is daunting for a South Carolina defense that is next-to-last in the SEC, allowing more than 430 yards per game.

The Gamecocks cannot trade body blows with the Vols. Elliott and the offense will have to throw some haymakers. If South Carolina can land some big punches early, it will have a chance like it did in the fourth quarter against Texas A&M. If not, Elliott’s chances of notching an eye-opening win will decrease by a third.