South Carolina football: Week one preview versus Tennessee

Bryan Edwards #89 of the South Carolina Gamecocks. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Bryan Edwards #89 of the South Carolina Gamecocks. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
2 of 3
south carolina football
Marquez Callaway #1 catches a pass while defended by Israel Mukamu #24. (Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images) /

These keys will be crucial to the success of the South Carolina football team.


Consistent QB play

Everyone around the South Carolina football program is eager to see Collin Hill on the field. He was the most consistent quarterback for the Gamecocks this offseason, but few fans have seen the passer in action, especially against an SEC opponent.

For the Gamecocks to have a chance, they’ll need Hill to play consistent, mistake free football. That means avoiding costly turnovers, keeping the Gamecocks on the field, and being efficient in the redzone. Hill’s grasp of the system should allow coach Bobo to open up his playbook a little bit and keep the Vols defense on its toes.

Establish the run

The Gamecocks threw the ball 51 times last season, as they played from behind for a majority of the second half. South Carolina running backs were held to just 92 yards on 26 carries, forcing the offense to become one dimensional with a true freshman quarterback.

Kevin Harris, Deshaun Fenwick, and ZaQuandre White don’t need to be Barry Sanders, but they’ve got to make the Volunteer defense respect their running game. Being able to move the ball consistently on the ground will allow Hill to utilize play action in his first start with the Gamecocks, while also helping the offense stay on the field and control the clock.

Don’t give up the big play

The Gamecocks were crushed by the big play in last year’s matchup. Tennessee quarterbacks completed just 18 passes in the game, yet they threw for more that 350 yards and three scores. That’s an average of nearly 20 yards a completion. Tennessee scored on passing plays of 55 and 48 yards. Pair that with a 65-yard punt return touchdown and a blocked punt that was recovered in the endzone, and you get the 20-point blowout from 2019.

South Carolina will need to avoid giving up large chunks of yardage on a consistent basis, and force the Vols offense to try and sustain long drives.

Finish strong

This game, as mentioned earlier, is usually close. Seven of the last eight meetings have come down to the fourth quarter, and I’m expecting that to be the case tonight, too. In the Gamecocks’ last four losses to the Vols, they’ve been outscored by a total of 43-14 in the game’s final period. In their last three wins, they’ve outscored Tennessee 16-7.

With a matchup that’s expected to go deep into the fourth quarter, South Carolina will need to finish strong and avoid giving Tennessee the any late game advantages.