Another game week, another edition of 90/50/10.
Today, the Vols will travel down to Columbia, S.C. for an important conference matchup. At this point in the season, wins are at a premium and in Tennessee’s case a win or loss could determine its postseason fate.
90%: South Carolina’s defense holds Tennessee’s offense to under 325 yards
So far, the Gamecocks defense has handled themselves pretty well against less-than-stellar offenses. The Vols enter this game ranked 108th in total offense so it is safe to say the Gamecocks should have an easy time against Tennessee.
This week the Vols received some awful news. Blood clots were rediscovered in the lungs of starting left tackle Trey Smith, which will sideline the sophomore for the foreseeable future. Also this week, the Gamecocks received some great news. Standout defensive end D.J. Wonnum has recovered from his ankle injury and will be ready to go against Tennessee. Do you see where I’m going with this? Expect to see the offensive line to have trouble keeping the Gamecock defense off of Jarrett Guarantano.
Another thing to keep your eye on tonight will be the quarterback situation. After Guarantano left the Alabama game due to a collarbone issue, backup Keller Chryst held his own against a top-15 Crimson Tide defense. Everything we have heard from the coaching staff indicates that Guarantano is 100 percent and ready to play, but that could be a little gamesmanship on Jeremy Pruitt’s part. It will be interesting to see early on if Guarantano is truly 100 percent and if not, are they comfortable giving Chryst the game?
50%: Tennessee’s defense forces two turnovers
South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley currently is (and has always been) a turnover machine. Through six games, Bentley has thrown seven interceptions which puts him at a career total of 23. Yikes.
After being embarrassed by the Alabama offense last week, this Tennessee defense is hungry to prove themselves again. And what better way to prove yourself than to force turnovers? I believe Pruitt and the staff will use a similar gameplan to the one they used against Auburn. Said gameplan consists of getting to the quarterback and forcing him into bad decisions and thus creating turnovers. Unfortunately for the Vols, the Gamecocks’ offensive line is one of the best in the SEC, so Pruitt might have to get a little creative to force turnovers.
10%: Tennessee throws for more than 200 yards
Right now, the Gamecocks’ pass defense is ranked at 36th in the nation, only giving up an 199.2 yards a game. With the status of Guarantano lingering, it will be hard to see a world where the Vols light it up through the air.
This season, the South Carolina defensive backfield has been very productive. They have only allowed four passing touchdowns against them. That statistic is even more impressive when you look at all the great quarterbacks they have faced: Jake Fromm, Drew Lock, and Kellen Mond. With Guarantano’s lingering collarbone situation, I expect to the offense to be very run heavy. This season, the Gamecocks have been very unimpressive against the run, giving up an average of 179.2 YPG. I expect Tyson Helton to take advantage of that and give plenty of touches to Ty Chandler and Tim Jordan.
Final score prediction: South Carolina 27 – Tennessee 21