Knoxville, TN (SportsNetwork.com) - The 11th-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks
will attempt to extend their winning streak to five games on Saturday
afternoon when they visit the Tennessee Volunteers for an SEC Eastern Division
After losing at nationally-ranked Georgia on Sept. 7 (41-30), South Carolina
has responded well with four consecutive victories, with its latest arguably
its most impressive as it kicked off a three-game road swing with a dominating
52-7 win over Arkansas last weekend. With both Florida and Georgia losing last
week, the Gamecocks are now tied for second in the SEC East at 3-1 behind only
unbeaten Missouri, with an Oct. 26 date against the Tigers still on tap.
"We knew going into this stretch it was going to be a tough three weeks in the
SEC, starting with Arkansas," South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw said. "We
knew we had to have a tough mentality, playing on the road, and we really
didn't have that here two years ago. So we wanted to come in here and make a
Tennessee has beaten the teams it was supposed to this season, claiming wins
against Austin Peay (45-0), Western Kentucky (52-20) and South Alabama
(31-24), but thanks to one of the most difficult schedules in the nation, it
currently sits at 3-3 and 0-2 in conference. The Vols have already lost to
Oregon, Florida and Georgia and still have games against nationally-ranked
foes Alabama, Missouri and Auburn left on the schedule.
"They bring it everyday and you guys don't see what I see," head coach Butch
Jones said about his squad. "I see a coming together of a football team, a
football program. This team has become closer than any team I've been a part
of and they hurt, but we're going to keep grinding. That's the only way I know
how to do it and that's the only way they're going to know how to do it."
The Vols have a convincing 22-7-2 advantage over the Gamecocks in the all-time
series, but South Carolina has had the upper hand of late with three straight
The South Carolina offense (34.5 ppg, 486.5 ypg) have proven to be one of the
SEC's most balanced units, ranking in the top-five in the SEC in both passing
(260.8 ypg) and rushing (225.7 ypg), thanks largely to the success of its
Connor Shaw has been nearly flawless this season, completing 68.5 percent of
his passes while having yet to throw an interception on 124 attempts. He has
passed for 1,146 yards, run for 319 yards, and accounted for 12 total
Mike Davis has taken to the featured back role rather smoothly in his
sophomore season. On 111 carries, he leads the SEC in both rushing yards (742)
and touchdowns (nine), and he is fresh off a 128-yard performance in last
week's win. Davis is also a reliable target for Shaw out of the backfield,
hauling in 15 passes for 185 yards.
Bruce Ellington has a team-high 21 receptions for 332 yards and three
touchdowns. Nick Jones (18 receptions, 191 yards, three TDs) and Damiere Byrd
(15 receptions, 263 yards, two TDs) are also in the midst of solid campaigns.
While the Gamecocks' defensive stats appear strong (22.7 ppg, 345.5 ypg), the
unit has not lived up to lofty preseason expectations. A big reason for that
is the poor performance of Jadeveon Clowney (2.0 sacks in five games), who
stirred up controversy after pulling himself from the Kentucky game on Oct. 5,
but he returned in last week's contest and claims that he is as committed as
ever to his team.
"When I got back, I told those guys, 'Listen, we ain't letting up,'" Clowney
said. "Everybody's talking about us right now -- me. I'm just going to turn
out. Let's just have fun out there. So I told them, let's all get together and
have fun today, just come out and put 11 hats on the ball and just play D."
Kelcy Quarles has picked up the slack for the underperforming Clowney by
recording 4.0 sacks and a fumble recovery. Jimmy Legree and Victor Hampton
have two interceptions apiece, while Legree leads the team with 27 total
Tennessee's offense has performed well this season by scoring 31.7 ppg, thanks
mostly to a rushing attack that generates 211.0 ypg.
After picking up 148 yards and two touchdowns in the showdown with Georgia,
Rajion Neal now has 616 rushing yards and seven touchdowns this season, to go
along with his solid work as a receiver (14 receptions), and his strong
efforts have not gone unnoticed by his coach.
"Rajion Neal's a warrior," Jones said. "He's playing like we expect our
seniors to play. He's giving us everything he has. He's been injured and he's
been a warrior. He's added another spark to us."
Marlin Lane (280 yards, four TDs) has also been a crucial component to the
backfield equation, but he is listed as questionable for this contest with a
The situation under center has been murky for the Vols. Despite throwing for
nine touchdowns, Justin Worley has not been very efficient in passing for just
156.7 ypg with six interceptions on 55.8 percent completions. Nathan Peterman
has seen time as well, but he has done little to provoke a switch (10-of-23,
45 yards, zero TDs, two INTs).
Alton Howard has 15 receptions for a team-high 218 yards and two scores to go
along with 75 rushing yards, but he also coughed up a critical fumble in
overtime to allow Georgia to kick the game-winning field goal.
Defensively, the Vols have been vulnerable against the pass (240.8 ypg), which
has resulted in a lackluster scoring defense (28.0 ppg), but the unit makes up
for a lot of its shortcomings by forcing 15 turnovers, which is tied for 12th-
A.J. Johnson leads the team with 47 tackles, while Brian Rudolph has 44 stops
to go with three interception. Brent Brewer also has a pair of picks, while
Cameron Sutton (21 tackles) has an interception and a fumble recovery to go
with six passes defended.
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