The Tennessee Volunteers will roll into Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C., for another night game on the SEC Network. The Vols come in with a 3-5 record, and the Gamecocks are not far ahead at 4-4.
The Vols and Gamecocks have both had disappointing seasons and are fighting for a bowl game. The Vols are winless in the conference, and Carolina stands at 2-4. Although neither have a winning record, both have been playing winning football on one side of the ball. These are two teams facing off Saturday that are also what each other has been missing.
The hot topic in Knoxville: The Volunteer Defense.
The defense currently ranks at 46th, and that number can be deceiving. The Volunteers lack depth that other teams in the top 50 have. For example, the Vols biggest point total scored against them came at Georgia. The Bulldogs scored 35, defeating the big orange by three points. The big orange may have given up 35 points, but they forced two interceptions and gave the offense great field position countless times. The offense could not capitalize. The average point total against UT currently stands at almost 23. Saturday’s game is one where more emphasis is placed on offense, and the defense has more penalties to be conscious of.
The bright spot in Columbia: The South Carolina Offense.
South Carolina has the 28th best offense in the nation. They are averaging 461 yards a game and scoring at an average of 35. The offense is led by quarterback Dylan Thompson; he is completing 60 percent of his passes and currently has a QB rating of 146.2. In the backfield with him are running backs Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds. Each one of them is averaging just under or over 5 yards a carry.
How can the Vols win?
Coming off a spirited defeat, the Vols offense may have finally found the spark it needed. That spark is Joshua Dobbs, the sophomore QB who fits this offense better than any other on the roster. He will help the young offensive line because he does not have to stay in the pocket as long as Justin Worley. Coach Butch Jones can run the offense that he wants, and this could be a glance into the future of the program. Although Jones has not officially announced him as the starter, look for him to be in there; they did not break his redshirt for no reason.
On the defensive side, although this is an electric offense, the Vols can force them into some turnovers. QB Dylan Thompson has put up big yardage numbers but has also put up big interception numbers. He is currently at nine interceptions through eight games.
Edited by Maggie Jones