What You’ll Need to Know About Tennessee
By Avery Wilks
Saturday’s contest is a meeting of two teams desperately in need of a win, as the hopes and expectations for their seasons have largely been eliminated during the events of the past few weeks. South Carolina will hope to rebound after losing to traditional SEC powers each of the past two weeks, and Tennessee is just hoping to escape Columbia with its first SEC win of the 2012 campaign. In games like these, neither team has anything significant to play for. The winner of these types of contests are usually the team that plays like it has nothing to lose, rather than the team who mopes around it its own self-pity. Here’s to hoping that Steve Spurrier has his team prepared to right the ship come Saturday at noon.
- Tennessee is (3-4, 0-4 in the SEC).
- Tennessee has lost their past three games and four of their past five, though all four of their losses have come to teams ranked in the top-13 of the BCS.
- Tennessee’s offense is ranked 36th in the nation (34.4 points per game), and their defense is ranked 99th, allowing 33.3 points per game.
- Derek Dooley is 1-10 as the Vols coach during the month of October.
- South Carolina is projected by Vegas to win by 14.
- Tennessee leads the series history 26-6-2.
- Tennessee hasn’t beaten South Carolina since 2009.
- Last Meeting: South Carolina won 14-3 in Knoxville.
Tennessee Season Recap and Scouting Report
In short, the season hasn’t been pretty for the Volunteers, who enter this game with a losing record. After starting the season a respectable 3-1, Tennessee has free-fallen out of prosperity, putting on terrible showings in losses to Georgia, Mississippi State, and Alabama. With the way things have been going in Knoxville lately, the prospects aren’t bright for Derek Dooley–and his seat gets a little hotter every week.
On the offensive end, Dooley’s offense has not lived up to his own promises and expectations. Tyler Bray, the junior quarterback projected to garner All-SEC honors, has been inconsistent all season–throwing for more touchdowns than interceptions in the past three games. With the way Bray folded against tougher competition this year, it’s no wonder coach Dooley has threatened to pull him in favor of backup quarterback Justin Worley for the South Carolina game.
Despite the Volunteer offenses’ inconsistency, this unit is not to be taken lightly. If Bray can utilize weapons such as Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson on the outside, the offense could create a huge problem for South Carolina’s secondary. The fact that Tennessee finally has a consistent tailback again in Rajion Neal and an offensive line that has only allowed three sacks of Bray in 2012 can only help their chances of withstanding the challenge presented by the Gamecock defense.
Defensively, Tennessee is atrocious. To put things in perspective, the Volunteer defense has yet to hold an opposing team to less than thirteen points this year, and they’ve allowed an average of 47 points per game over the past three games. There are no considerable strong points to this unit, but the secondary is easily one of the worst in the SEC, much less all of college football. If Connor Shaw, Marcus Lattimore, and the rest of the Gamecock offense can’t find a spark against the Vols, perhaps they never will.