South Carolina football: Horn, secondary seeking revenge in season opener

Marquez Callaway #1 catches a pass while defended by Israel Mukamu #24. (Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images)
Marquez Callaway #1 catches a pass while defended by Israel Mukamu #24. (Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images) /

Some members of the South Carolina football team haven’t forgotten about last year’s loss.

Tennessee handed the Gamecocks one of its worst losses last season, as they racked up 41 points on their way to a 20-point victory in Neyland Stadium. Some members of the South Carolina secondary haven’t forgotten.

The Volunteers had a ton of success throwing the ball that night, as two Tennessee quarterbacks totaled over 350 yards passing and three touchdowns. Wideouts Marquez Callaway and Jauan Jennings bullied the South Carolina defensive backs and the Tennessee offense rolled in the second half, outscoring the Gamecocks 24-0.

If South Carolina wants to win on Saturday, they’ve got to avoid a repeat performance from its secondary. Cornerback Jaycee Horn remembers the success that the Volunteers had in 2019, and he’s hoping for a better performance in the Gamecocks’ season opener.

"“It stuck with us,” Horn said in a press conference earlier this week. “Obviously, as a secondary, we gave up a good bit of yards and plays.”"

The Vols do lose those two big wide receivers, but back under center is senior Jarrett Guarantano, who had a 200-yard performance last year before leaving the game with an injury. Returning, too, is play caller Jim Chaney. Horn anticipates that he’ll see a lot of the same looks from the Tennessee offense on Saturday.

"“They’re probably going to come out and try to do the same thing they did last year, because it was successful last year doing that.”"

Chaney’s offense is designed to confuse opposing defenses, which will require the Gamecocks to stay focused and alert to motions and pre-snap shifts.

"“They’ve got a lot of whacky plays, so we’ve just got to stay focused on locked in the whole game,” Horn said. “Stuff that can mess up communication in the secondary and it’s easy to leave a guy free with the offense they run.”"

South Carolina does have the advantage of returning all four starters in the defensive backfield, meaning everyone on the field this weekend should have some experience going up against the Tennessee offensive scheme.

The matchup between the South Carolina secondary and Tennessee wideouts will definitely be the one to watch. If the veteran defenders can avoid the mistakes from last season, it should help slow the Volunteer offense, and force them to play a little more one dimensional. If the receivers run free, it likely means the Gamecocks will start the season off with a loss.

Horn is confident that the group can perform and he’s excited for the opportunity. He’s locked in and eager to get the bad taste of last year out of his mouth.

"“It’s a whole new year and a whole new team, new defense. We’re just locked in. We’re trying to lock in game one and play our best football on the field.”"

The Gamecocks will take the field at 7:30 PM on Saturday in Williams-Brice Stadium. They’ve opened as three-point home underdogs.

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