Tennessee went to Columbia yesterday. The story is a familiar one. The Vols played well, but not well enough. There were bright spots in Williams-Brice stadium, and I am assuming, that many of the 86,000 Gamecock fans in attendance were nervous that the Volunteers were going to steal a game late. To the objective and unattached football fan, it was worth watching.
Tennessee scored 35 points yesterday against a very talented South Carolina defense. Only Florida scored more when they had 44 last week in Gainesville. I would argue though that the Vols had the more impressive offensive performance. Tennessee had 476 yards of offense against the Gamecocks. Florida gained just 191. Florida’s points were the result of some bad turnovers by South Carolina.
Zach Rogers had his best game ever as a Volunteer. 6 grabs for 106 yards and three touchdowns. Oh, and two of his other three catches were for first downs including one late in the game on 4th and 2 during the Vols final drive to attempt to tie or take the lead. The young man has been skewered in the past by yours truly and others. He was the best player on the field yesterday in orange and white.
The UT offensive line continues to impress. You have to give the big boys up front lots of credit for the 476 yards of offense. The South Carolina defense had 29 sacks entering Saturday’s clash. That’s more than 4 per game. The Vols allowed one sack, and it was late. Jadaveon Clowney did have the biggest play at the end of the game with the strip of Tyler Bray. But there were long stretches where the announcers had to remind the audience that Clowney was in fact still in the game. The O-line just kept him quiet. Tiny Richardson handled Clowney one on one for several plays. He only had one mistake. Sam Pittman may have been the best hire ever by Derek Dooley.
The defense was terrible again. Two weeks in a row, the Vols gave up career days to opposing quarterbacks. Last week it was Alabama’s AJ McCarron. This week it was Connor Shaw. Those are the kinds of things these guys should have against East Carolina, or Western Michigan, or some other directional school. Those things shouldn’t happen in a conference game. If it did it should happen against Kentucky or Vandy. Not against Tennessee. The entire defense gets this nod this week. If Sam Pittman is the best hire ever by Dooley. Then Sal Sunseri is the leader in the clubhouse for the worst.
Thoughts and prayers for Marcus Lattimore. If anything ever qualifies as ugly it was the nasty leg injury he sustained yesterday after being hit by Herman Lathers and Eric Gordon. My first inclination after seeing the hit was “My Lord, I hope he doesn’t lose that thing”If you haven’t seen it yet, it was that ugly. Nothing official on the exact injury yet has been announced. Message board rumors indicate that it is a ACL, MCL, LCL, and a broken femur. The young man has immense talent, I hope he can walk first. I hope he can play football second, and I hope he can make it to the NFL third.