Dobbs Vols
Nov 1, 2014; Columbia, SC, USA; Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Joshua Dobbs (11) fakes a pass over South Carolina Gamecocks linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams (4) in the first quarter at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

The last four games between Tennessee and South Carolina have all been decided by three points or less. The Vols are favored by double digits, but the Gamecocks historically don’t go down without a fight.

Tennessee has had the bye week to put the losses to Texas A&M and Alabama in the rear view, heal up and focus on the second half of its schedule.

The Gamecocks are breaking in a new freshman quarterback and will try to bring the momentum over from last week’s UMass victory and use it on the Big Orange.

GAME INFO:

At Williams-Brice Stadium (Columbia, SC) at 7:15 p.m. ET on  espn2-logo

SPREAD: South Carolina +13.5 OVER/UNDER: 50.5

PREVIOUS WEEK:

Power-T-SMALL (5-2) bye week

south-carolina (3-4) 34-28 win vs UMass

IMPACT PLAYERS:

Power-T-SMALL

QB Josh Dobbs, Sr. – 121/201 passing, 1,525 yards, 14 TDs, 293 yards rushing, 5 TDs

RB Jalen Hurd, Jr. – 114 rushes, 435 yards, 2 TDs, 10 rec, 81 yards, 2 TDs

LB Darrin Kirkland Jr., So. – 16 total tackles, 11 solo tackles, 1 sack

south-carolina

QB Jake Bentley Fr. – 17/26 passing, 201 yards, 2 TDs 

WR Deebo Samuel, So. – 16 rec, 262 yards receiving

DB D.J. Smith, Jr. – 46 total tackles, 34 solo tackles, 1 INT

HOW  Power-T-SMALL WINS:

Avoid the rust and dominate the line of scrimmage early…

Now that the Vols have had a week to heal up, it’s time to get down to business and go win an East title. It starts with South Carolina and ‘start’ is the keyword. Tennessee must come out of the gates strong and set the tone early against the game cocks.

This entails getting a good pass rush off of the edge on defense and running the ball effectively with Josh Dobbs and Jalen Hurd. The Vols can not afford to let South Carolina start fast and get the crowd blaring Sandstorm.

Darrin Kirkland Jr.
Darrin Kirkland Jr. coming back will boost the Vols defense (Photo/USA Today)

Tennessee has success using the read option and a short passing game. This strategy is set up to take shots down the field later in the game. The offensive line is still not set due to injuries, but they need to play well for the Vols to get the victory.

Getting linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. back in the lineup after a five week hiatus will be huge for the Vols defense. He adds depth to a defense that has suffered a hand full of key injuries over the last several weeks. The run defense will also improve with Kirkland back out there.

HOW south-carolina WINS:

Keep the scoring down and help your young QB manage the game… 

NCAA Football: Massachusetts at South Carolina
Jake Bentley will try to make it two wins in a row against Tennessee (Photo/USA Today)

It’s all about Jake Bentley. The freshman quarterback got the first start of his college career last week against UMass and overall played pretty well. He threw two touchdown passes and took care of the ball. It’s going to take that kind of performance, if not more, to beat Tennessee on Saturday.

Offensive coordinator Kurt Roper let Bentley control the offense, which led to taking some down the field shots. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw something similar against the Vols secondary.

“We just really opened up the playbook when Jake was back there, because we know he can throw it very well,” said Gamecock receiver Deebo Samuel, who had eight catches for 106 yards.

Samuel is an offensive weapon that has benefited from the QB change.

Finally, expect head coach Will Muschamp to bring the same kind of intensity as he did when he was at Florida.