Key Matchup: Tennessee Secondary vs. USC Passing Attack
By Zach Crowl
For a team that started off so strong, they seem to be falling apart pretty fast. Excluding last week’s loss to Alabama, the offense has put up solid numbers doing its part. The defense on the other hand has not exactly been pulling its weight. The past three weeks, Tennessee has given up over 40 points to each opponent, while also allowing approximately 300 passing yards to each. The Vols’ secondary has done a magnificent job of getting carved up recently by the likes of Aaron Murray, Tyler Russell, and A.J. McCarron. Fortunately for this pathetic secondary, they will face the likes of a South Carolina passing attack that has yet to really find its identity this season. This is Tennessee’s chance to repair their defensive holes and possibly turn their season around. To find success, the Volunteers’ secondary simply needs to follow the blueprint laid out by the Florida defense last week. With some tight coverage on Ace Sanders and Bruce Ellington, along with special attention to Marcus Lattimore running short routes out of the backfield, the secondary will give their defensive line plenty of time to pressure quarterback Connor Shaw into a bad decision.
South Carolina is far from a prolific passing attack, but it has been atrocious since the Missouri game. Part of that has to do with the success of the running game against Kentucky and Georgia, but while facing LSU and Florida, it seemed like a near impossible feat to simply complete a pass. Last week the Gamecock offense posted 155 passing yards between two quarterbacks. The blame however is not placed solely upon the quarterback position, no matter the route, the Gamecock receivers were shut down with smothering coverage. The Gators did such a tremendous job staying close to the man they were defending, that often times Shaw and Dylan Thompson were forced to hold onto the ball which eventually led to a sack. If the Gamecocks wish to get back on track to the dominance they displayed at the beginning of the season, it is going to require a special effort from the passing attack.
Edge: Coming back home for the first time in three weeks will be a sweet relief for the Gamecocks. The ‘Cocks have a tough time doing any wrong when playing in Williams Brice so this seems like a great time to get back on track. The edge goes to the Gamecocks.