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) /
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Parker White #43 of the South Carolina Gamecocks kicks a field goal. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

There are a few players to keep an eye on for the South Carolina football team.



These teams have two of the conference’s best kickers in Parker White and Brent Cimaglia. White was named to the Lou Groza award watchlist this summer after connecting on 18 of his 22 attempts last year. Cimaglia was voted first-team all-SEC in the media’s preseason projections last week. He made 23-of-27 field goals a year ago.

Close games often come down to special teams, and having a solid placekicker could end up being the difference tonight.

Wide receivers vs. defensive backs

Both teams have strong secondaries, and both have question marks at wideout. Tennessee lost Jauan Jennings and Marquez Callaway to the NFL. Both were Gamecock killers last year, each recording 100-yard games.

South Carolina has one of the league’s better cornerback duos in Jaycee Horn and Israel Mukuamu, who’ll be tasked with shutting down an untested Volunteer receiver group.

The Gamecocks, too, have their issues at receiver. Of the six pass catchers listed on the two-deep, five are underclassmen. Two of those players started their careers as quarterbacks. Three are true freshmen.

South Carolina lost a ton of depth over the offseason as OrTre Smith and Randrecous Davis opted out due to COVID concerns. Incoming transfer Jalen Brooks, who was in line for a starting role, had his waiver denied by the NCAA, meaning he’ll likely be unavailable Saturday. The Gamecocks are appealing the decision.

That thin Carolina wideout group will go up against Bryce Thompson, Alontae Taylor, and Jaylen McCullough in the Tennessee secondary. Thompson is the best of the bunch, having tallied six interceptions over his first two seasons.


RB ZaQuandre White

White may not get the start at running back but he should see some action. After having missed the beginning of fall camp, he returned this week and impressed coaches. As longs as he’s comfortable with the playbook, he’ll make an impact. The talented tailback ran for 876 yards and 10 scores last year at Iowa Western on his way to JUCO All-America honors. He was the top-rated junior college running back in last year’s class.


With the tough all-SEC scheduling, this seems more and more like a must-win, for both sides really. And if the Gamecocks lose this one, they could be staring at a 1-5 start (SC plays Florida, LSU, Auburn, and A&M over its next five games). They need to get off to a positive start. After last season’s win, most are picking the Vols here, but remember South Carolina did win the three meetings prior. These schools are typically close in talent, which is why the series has been highly competitive. I’m expecting a low scoring, defensive battle with the Gamecocks being able to lock down a questionable wide receiver unit and focus on stopping the Tennessee run game. Collin Hill will do just enough to keep the offense moving. The home field advantage may not favor the Gamecocks as much this year, but I still think they leave Williams-Brice Stadium with a win. Gamecocks 21-20.