When South Carolina destroyed Georgia on October 6 by a shocking 35-7 score, the Old Ball Coach had his program ranked 3rd on the 6-0 W/L tally. How times have changed.
Down 7-3 to begin that Dreaded Third Quarter, Tennessee nearly exorcised all those early second half demons. But early in the third quarter, when Prentiss Waggner’s run — after his pass interception near the Vol 45 yard — ended just two yards shy of the goal line, it eerily didn’t seem like the Big Orange would capitalize. A three-yard rushing loss was followed by freshman Vol QB Justin Worley throwing his first collegiate interception.
It was one of multiple opportunities lost.
For the record…
The last two games saw the Vols play well in the first half but get beaten senseless in the second by the Number One LSU Tigers and the Number Two Alabama Crimson Tide. This week provides opportunity to marginalize those losses as inevitable outcomes against the two best teams in the land and provide a springboard to a decent season with a ‘signature win.’ Yes, a win over South Carolina, at home, would count as a signature win.
Recent events have transpired to make this upcoming matchup with the South Carolina Gamecocks a very interesting affair.
Those events surrounding the Vols have been well-chronicled here. Tyler Bray goes down with an injury. Matt Simms in Year 2 is the Matt Simms of Year 1, and is thusly benched. Enter a native South Carolinian, true freshman Justin Worley – whose redshirt was burned during the final moments of Bama’s torching of Tennessee – who will make his first collegiate start Saturday night. There has also been the Vols’ habit of imploding in the second half against SEC opponents. And the slow, ponderous Vol secondary has made running downfield routes by our opponents ever more popular.
Every game is a ‘big game’ for Vol fans. That’s what makes us great fans. We care. A lot.
But Saturday’s game against South Carolina is a really Big Game. This team has made it a big game due to psychological concerns – we now have a phobia of, a neurotic aversion to, a downright fear of the Dreaded Second Half.
I had a dream about Saturday’s game…
There is no debate about who are the best two teams in the land. And, there is no debate about who is the best college football player in the land.
Auburn vs South Carolina in Atlanta for the SEC Championship game, and Oregon vs Oregon State in The Civil War clash in Corvallis.
Read what happened, as it happened, as the Ducks and Tigers took their final step in anticipation of facing each other for glory.
South Carolina 38 Tennessee 24
30 Oct 2010 | Williams-Brice Stadium | 79,336Recap | Boxscore | Play-by-play | Drive Chart
Back-breaking turnovers by the mistake-prone Vols in the early minutes of the second half allowed South Carolina to put up enough points to keep a resilient Tennessee team from pulling off a huge upset that could have resulted in Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks giving the SEC East crown away.
In between those giveaways, Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley pulled what this observer saw as a bizarrely timed QB substitution. Just before entering the dressing room at the half of a 10-10 contest, Dooley summarized to the TV sideline reporter what it would take to give the Vols their first conference win: “mental, emotional, intellectual stamina.” Dooley was not willing to lay anything on a lack of talent, size, and other physical attributes. He put it directly inside the heads of his players.
South Carolina vs. Tennessee | 30 Oct 2010 | Williams-Brice Stadium
12:21pm EDT | SEC Network and ESPN3.com
It’s that time of year again, the time when the chill in the autumn air normally brings a chill in the backbone of the South Carolina Gamecocks.
It isn’t the first time USC has entered the final stretch of a season with a very decent record. But, this year’s 5-and-2 Gamecock squadron looks bigger than past garnet-and-black forces, mostly because of Florida’s failures. Perhaps that’s not totally fair to USC’s steadily improving program, albeit a program that has made their improvements at a glacial pace. South Carolina has no-kidding quality at key slots this year.
This weekend the Tennessee Vols travel to Columbia, South Carolina for a meeting with the Gamecocks of the University of South Carolina. The current head coach of USC has many nicknames — the Ol’ Ball Coach, Steve Superior, Coach Visor — but one that might appropriately describe Tennessee’s relationship with him is, “Prince of Darkness.” So, with the upcoming game, a few comments and reflections about the POD.
MAXIM #2: Play for and make the breaks and when one comes your way – SCORE!
Mission accomplished on Saturday. It was simply the difference. Three induced fumbles by the Vol ball hawks in the first half and an interception in the second were quickly turned into 24 points on All Hallow’s Eve down by the river. That’s right – 3 TD’s and a FG immediately after 4 turnovers. These weren’t turnovers that killed Gamecock drives. Instead, they happened in USC’s own half, allowing the Vols to start their drives from the C27, the C43, the C22, and the C47 because of the 4 Gamecock turnovers. Yes indeed – make the breaks and when one four come your way – SCORE (EVERY TIME)!
However, in years to come, this game will not likely be remembered for the turnovers and resultant scores, but for the black jerseys.
This All Hallow’s Eve matchup gives us two of the great coaching minds of a generation. Will the game become a chess match between a high-powered Spurrier passing game against Monte’s vaunted defense?
To answer this question, let’s think about the major strengths and weaknesses of this season’s South Carolina Gamecocks, and the Vols on the opposite side of those weaknesses.
Today, we are hosting another Q&A, this time with Gamecock Man from the fine South Carolina blog Garnet and Black Attack. Our friend has an interesting history as noted on his bio. He came late to Gamecock sports having grown up in Mobile and being raised by his Auburn-loving family. But graduate school at USC turned him around to where he is all garnet and black. Damn – I should have asked him if his family still speaks to him! He’s currently in exile somewhere north of the Mason-Dixon Line getting a PhD, which explains his good writing and insightful posts (but what about his common sense?!?!).
Gamecock Man has already posted a couple of previews for this weekend’s Halloween bonanza: Previewing South Carolina at Tennessee: Topics for Discussion on the Vols’ Offense; and Previewing South Carolina at Tennessee: Topics for Discussion on the Vols’ Defense. If he keeps that productivity up, he’s going to get his degree in less that the typical three years!
He has recriprocated by posting on his blog [HERE] my answers to his questions regarding the Vols and the Tennessee-South Carolina matchup. But first, give a read of Gamecock Man’s answers to my questions on the state of Gamecock football and the upcoming game – right after the jump.
Today, I am pleased to have the writers over at Leftover Hot Dog (LOHD) as a guest at Vols in the Fall. LOHD is a Gamecock blog that, as they say on their site, “has worked to bring you all the Gamecocks sports info you need concerning THE University of South Carolina while mixing in the occasional tailgating story along the way or other mindless pieces of information. The LOHD blog is your independent source for Gamecock news.” It is informative, entertaining, and if nothing else has one of the best names in the blogosphere.
The authors at LOHD were kind enough to offer a Q&A trade. We both submitted questions to each other. The following, after the jump, are their answers to my questions. They have posted my answers to their questions over at LOHD. So, enjoy a Gamecock perspective.