[title_box title=”Takeaways from Tennessee’s win over South Carolina”]
Saturday’s victory against South Carolina marked Tennessee’s third consecutive win over the Gamecocks, and the fourth consecutive game in the series decided by fewer than three points.
Tennessee, as it has done several times this season, started off hot, scoring two touchdowns on the first two possessions to take a 14-0 lead. However, by the end of the second half, South Carolina had taken the momentum away from Tennessee. The Vols’ offense went into hibernation in the second half, barely moving the ball against one of the worst defenses in the SEC. The Gamecocks, on the other hand, scored 21 points in the third quarter, tying the game going into the fourth. Despite the hot start and struggling finish, something Vols fans are all too accustomed to at this point, Tennessee was able to hold off the South Carolina comeback attempt and win.
Here a few takeaways from the thrilling Volunteers’ victory:
The Tennessee offense is inconsistent.
For anyone who has watched Tennessee football this season, this takeaway should come as no surprise. In the first half, the offense was rolling, rushing for 136 yards and passing for 123. The second half was an entirely different story, though, as the Vols amassed only 119 total yards. Only 17 of those yards came on the ground. Quarterback Joshua Dobbs was also inconsistent. There were times throughout this game when he looked comfortable in the pocket, made good decisions and threw some beautiful passes. There were other times when he looked rattled, was inaccurate and turnover prone. For Tennessee to take the step from good to great, it needs to become much more consistent. That includes better play and fewer mistakes from Dobbs.
The defense is better than most people realize.
In the first half, the defense completely shut down the South Carolina offense. The Vols stuffed the Gamecocks’ running game and gave up no space to the passing game. A large portion of South Carolina’s offensive yardage for the first half did not come until the final drive of the half, when the Cocks were able to bring the deficit to 17-3. In the second half, the Gamecocks played much better. They were able to move the ball much more easily, and they were able to score points. Some people might look at this and think that the Tennessee defense played poorly. While it might be true that the Vols’ defense did not play as well in the second half as it did in the first, it still played well enough to keep the game in control and ultimately give Tennessee the win. While the Tennessee offense was stagnant, the defense kept the game under control. The Vols never surrendered the lead. Malik Foreman made a huge play by stripping the ball from Jerrell Adams to seal the game.
Tennessee is getting better and learning how to win.
Although Butch Jones has been the recipient of some major criticism this season, he has done an exceptional job at turning around the program. Before the 2014 season, Tennessee had not been to a bowl game since 2010 and had not won a bowl game since 2007. Now, nearing the end of the 2015 regular season, Tennessee has an excellent chance of finishing 8-4 and reaching its second consecutive bowl. The team is improving from year-to-year, and continues to bring in incredible recruiting classes. The Vols are also improving from game-to-game. The win over South Carolina shows that they can withstand a major comeback from an opponent and still win. If the game were played earlier in the season, the Vols may have allowed the Gamecocks to come back and win.
Tennessee was able to weather the storm of the South Carolina comeback and hold on for the 27-24 victory. After not having had a winning season since 2009, the Vols are poised to complete their second consecutive winning season and are just a few plays away from only having one or two losses and being one of the top teams in the country. Tennessee is on its way back to the top.
Edited by Cody McClure