Posted by Jerry Hinnen
SOUTH CAROLINA WON: For the second straight week, the Gamecock offense sputtered in the kind of decisive fashion that would have spelled road game doom in the SEC most years. But this is 2011, so Carolina's gone 2-0 in those games. The Justin Worley experiment at quarterback was a miserable failure for Tennessee, as the true freshman hit just 10-of-26 passes for 4 yards an attempt and two interceptions--including a backbreaking pick at the Carolina 2 after a Prentiss Waggner interception had set up the Vols inside the Gamecock 5. Freshman Brandon Wilds picked up a solid 137 yards on just under 5 a carry in relief of Marcus Lattimore.
WHY SOUTH CAROLINA WON: It's pretty simple: in a game in which the two starting quarterbacks combined to average all of 4.4 yards an attempt and less than 200 yards total, the winner was always going to be the team that could run the ball. That team was the Gamecocks, who racked up 231 yards on 53 carries and -- in a stunning display of old school power -- put together a 20-play, 98 yard, 11 minute and 35 second touchdown drive in the third quarter. When you rush for 74 yards on one drive alone, you are (as the kids say) doing work.
The Vols? After a couple of small steps forward in their putresecent running game the last few weeks, tonight was a sizable step backward: 21 rushes, 35 yards, no scores. Ick.
WHEN SOUTH CAROLINA WON: Of course, maybe the Vol ground game would show some spark if the coaches seemed to trust it at all. Facing a 4th-and-1 at the Carolina 27, down 14-3 and less than 7 minutes left in the game, the Vols put the ball in the hands of Matt Simms--the same quarterback, you may recall, who the staff just benched in favor of a true freshman. Wildly incomplete pass, turnover on downs, game well and truly over.
WHAT SOUTH CAROLINA WON: The right to stay just a nose out in front of Georgia in the SEC East race with next week's trip to Arkansas looming large. Having Wilds prove he's a capable replacement isn't such a bad bonus, either.
WHAT TENNESSEE LOST: Despite Carolina's gaudy ranking, this was an offensively-hamstrung team coming to Neyland Stadium for a night game that helped the Vols with three turnovers ... and Derek Dooley's team couldn't even stay within 11 points of them as the Worley decision appeared to backfire badly. At 3-5 and with the Vols' own trip to Fayetteville forthcoming, Dooley is one upset away from seeing his team stay home for the holidays.