Game-day preview: Tennessee vs. South Carolina

Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / J.T. Shrout (12) and Brian Maurer (18) watch fellow Tennessee Vols quarterback Jarrett Guarantano warm up for the season opener against Georgia State on Aug. 31 in Knoxville.

TENNESSEE (2-5, 1-3 SEC) vs. SOUTH CAROLINA (3-4, 2-3)

Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019

4 p.m. at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville

VIDEO & RADIO

SEC Network & 106.5 FM/1070 AM

THE MATCHUP

Tennessee's defensive line was able to create quarterback pressure two weeks ago, which led to a seven-sack, three-takeaway performance in a home win over Mississippi State. Last Saturday at Alabama, the Volunteers got into the Crimson Tide's backfield numerous times and finished with a pair of sacks and six tackles for loss. Now their challenge is to try to slow down a South Carolina offense that has relied largely on running backs Rico Dowdle and Tavien Feaster, though the Gamecocks will be without Dowdle against the Vols. That could put more pressure on South Carolina freshman quarterback Ryan Hilinski to make plays, which could give Tennessee's defense opportunities to do the same.

ONE TO WATCH

Whoever starts at quarterback for the Vols. Maybe it will be junior Jarrett Guarantano, who has more than 20 starts for the Vols, though Tennessee fans' most recent memory of him was his fumble at the Alabama goal line that resulted in a 100-yard return for a Tide touchdown and a huge momentum swing. Maybe it will be redshirt freshman J.T. Shrout, who has thrown only 10 passes in his Tennessee career and is similar in playing style to Guarantano. It likely won't be Brian Maurer, the freshman who started but exited early each of the past two games with a concussion and was referred to as "probably doubtful" by coach Jeremy Pruitt on Wednesday.

IN THE END

Recent history shows this game will be close. It also shows the Gamecocks have won three straight and Will Muschamp is 7-0 against the Vols as a head coach counting his four wins with Florida, but it appears Tennessee turned a corner against Mississippi State. That led to a quality effort against Alabama, and that momentum will continue into a defense-centered victory over the Gamecocks in Knoxville.

PREDICTION

Tennessee 18, South Carolina 11

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenley3 or at Facebook.com/VolsUpdate.