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South Carolina Game Preview
Posted: Thursday, October 30th, 2014, 6:32 PM
by Josh
The Alabama game started out much as I expected. Justin Worley was hurt and Peterman got the start. Alabama was up 20-0 before Tennessee could blink. What I didn't expect was for the defense to get torched like it did. Give them credit though. After the initial explosion, they played much better. I expected to see Josh Dobbs play in this game. I didn't expect him to look like he did. Last year, Dobbs came in against Alabama and he played okay in relief of Worley. I've heard a lot of people saying he played well against Alabama last year. He played okay but Saturday was a whole different level. Last year against Alabama he was 5-12 for 75 yards with no TDs or interceptions. He also rushed 3 times for 19 yards. This year against Alabama he was 19-32 for 192 with 2 TDs and 1 interception and he also ran 19 times for 75 yards. There is no comparison. He has clearly progressed. He played the best game his career against Alabama. Last year he didn't really have a good game until he beat Kentucky. In that game he was 14-23 for 199 with 2 TDs and an interception. He also ran it 7 times for 52 yards and a TD. The point is, the Josh Dobbs we saw Saturday night isn't the Josh Dobbs from 2013. He really opened up the run game and he looked more in command of the offense than any QB we've seen since Butch Jones became coach. He gave us a glimpse of what the offense should look like and Bajakian didn't look so incompetent calling plays for Dobbs. Now people say Alabama hadn't prepared for Dobbs and that's probably true. But they didn't prepare for him last year either and they still held him in check pretty well. Alabama has seen the spread before and they have seen mobile QBs before. They should know how to defend them. I think what we saw from the 2nd quarter on is Butch Jones' vision of how he wants this Tennessee program to look.

Now when I look at South Carolina I see a team that I though would be better than they are. They have a really good offense but their defense is terrible. For most of the season Tennessee has had a really good defense with a terrible offense to go along with it. It seems to me that Tennessee's offense may have made the leap from terrible to pretty good. Judging by last week, South Carolina's defense is still terrible. So this game will be about Tennessee's improved offense against South Carolina's terrible defense. Which team weakness will play better? Another great matchup is Tennessee's really good defense against South Carolina's really good offense. I also think Spurrier is worried about this game. They are breaking out the black jerseys to try to get the team pumped up. This is probably because they shot their load against Auburn and he knows they will have trouble getting motivated again after that heartbreak.

Offensively I think Tennessee will have a really good game. IF they can limit turnovers, South Carolina should have a hard time stopping Tennessee. I think the element Dobbs brings to this game will lead to the Vols having a breakout night on offense. This will likely be the best offensive performance against a quality SEC team that we've seen in the Butch Jones era. The key will be to take care of the ball and do not have stupid penalties. A big night is there for the taking.

Defensively is where the game will be won or lost. I think the first quarter of the Alabama game was a bit of an aberration and give Lane Kiffin credit. He called a great first quarter. If Tennessee plays like it has played all year on defense, this game may not be close. Call me a sheep if you want but that's just how I see it. Before the Alabama game, Tennessee had one of the nations best pass defenses. If that defense shows up in Columbia, Tennessee will win this game. South Carolina's offense has been really good all year but Tennessee has played against and limited better offenses. Tennessee held it's own in Norman. Tennessee held its own against Georgia, until the 4th quarter anyway. This defense can limit Dylan Thompson and keep Mike Davis in check enough to win the game if they play like they did in those games.

I've struggled with this pick all week because in my mind, football is about defense and matchups. Of the 2 defenses, Tennessee's is far better. Of the 2 offenses, South Carolina's is better, but Tennessee found a spark against Alabama. South Carolina's offense and Tennessee's defense are probably about as good as each other. I think Tennessee's offense is going to be significantly better than South Carolina's defense. With that thought process, Tennessee should win and I should feel pretty confident about that pick....but I don't. In the back of my mind I keep thinking that Butch Jones will find a way to mismanage the game. I keep thinking that Bajakian will call moronic plays at inopportune times that squander scoring opportunities. I don't have a lot of faith in this coaching staff at the moment. But I don't pick games that way. I pick them based on how I see the matchups playing out. And I see Tennessee winning this game and starting the stretch run off on a high note.

Tennessee 31
South Carolina 20

In other games...

Georgia 27
Florida 10

Kentucky 34
Missouri 24

Mississippi State 41
Arkansas 33

Auburn 32
Ole Miss 28

TCU 48
West Virginia 30

Overall record straight up (29-19)

That's all I have for now. As always, I greatly appreciate everyone who takes the time to read this. For those that want, you can follow me on Twitter @Joshes_Blog

Have a blessed and safe weekend. Go Vols and God Bless!

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