Tennessee Vols At South Carolina Gamecocks Game Preview And Stat Comparison

A weekly look at our upcoming opponent's recent history, with animated drive charts, links to SB Nation game pages, and statistical comparisons.

CAVEATS: You know the drill. Also, this: all of the following information is gleaned exclusively from the NCAA statistics and does not account for things like injuries, shared playing time, and other stuff difficult to see in the stats from a bird's eye view. As always, this is a long post, so I've put the conclusions and predictions before and after the meat. You're not seeing double.

 

Sketchy Conclusions

  • Much like Alabama, South Carolina has a pick-your-poison offense. They have a world-class receiver in Alshon Jeffery and a running back in Marcus Lattimore who looks to be world-class at times as well. If Tennessee employs the same game plan as it did against Alabama (focus more on stopping the RBs), expect the Gamecocks to have something like the same success with Jeffery that 'Bama did with Julio Jones. I'd expect Tennessee, however, to focus more on stopping Garcia and Jeffery this week, though, for a couple of reasons. First, they've been a bit more consistent than has Lattimore. Second, Tennessee shouldn't want to die the same way twice in consecutive weeks. Still, if that happens, expect Lattimore to have a big week. One or the other should be acceptable, but allowing both to have great success would not be good.
  • Brace yourself for sacks and general havoc in Tennessee's backfield. South Carolina ranks 5th in the nation in sacks, and the Vols rank 113th in sacks allowed. Three of the Gamecocks' defensive linemen rank nationally in sacks, tackles for loss, or both.
  • If Tennessee has an advantage, it's in special teams. Imagine that.

Predictions

  • South Carolina 31, Tennessee 20. Sorry. Again.

Schedule and Animated Drive Charts

South Carolina Logo
Southern Miss. Golden Eagles 9/2/10 win 41 - 13 coverage
Georgia Bulldogs 9/11/10 win 17 - 6 coverage
Furman Paladins 9/18/10 win 38 - 19 coverage
@ Auburn Tigers 9/25/10 loss 27 - 35 coverage
Alabama Crimson Tide 10/9/10 win 35 - 21 coverage
@ Kentucky Wildcats 10/16/10 loss 28 - 31 coverage
@ Vanderbilt Commodores 10/23/10 win 21 - 7 coverage

 

Let's take a quick look at the drive charts for our games against Georgia and Alabama.

 

FULL SCREEN VERSION

Animated Drive Charts brought to you by Gameday Depot.

 

FULL SCREEN VERSION


Georgia scored 41 points against Tennessee and only 6 against South Carolina. I do think that those were two entirely different Georgia teams, but still.

FULL SCREEN VERSION


FULL SCREEN VERSION


The Gamecocks did pretty much what they wanted on offense against Alabama's D. Tennessee, not exactly. They also limited the Tide to two TDs and a couple of field goals where Tennessee hung with them for a half before getting rolled after the break.

National Unit Rankings

Now on to the national rankings.

OFFENSIVE RANKINGS
Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
SEC Leader Actual
Rushing Offense 70 143.29 Air Force 326.50 9 Auburn 303.25
Passing Offense 31 260.71 Hawaii 400.75 3 Arkansas 352.14
Total Offense 46 404.00 Oregon 569.14 6 Auburn 486.75
Scoring Offense 53 29.57 Oregon 55.14 7 Auburn 38.63
Passing Efficiency 7 163.61 Boise St. 188.11 3 Auburn 170.45
Sacks Allowed 91 2.57 Boise St. .17 10 Mississippi 1.00

 

Offensive observations. If you've seen Marcus Lattimore run this season, you're probably going "huh?" right along with me at that 70th-ranked rushing offense. He's played in every game but the last one, and, with the exception of going for 187 against Georgia, he's been held under 100 yards per game. Several games just under, but still. The team's passing efficiency is top ten, but the other offensive stats are just pretty good. They do allow a lot of sacks.

DEFENSIVE RANKINGS
Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
SEC Leader Actual
Rushing Defense 13 101.29 Boise St. 59.33 2 Georgia 99.25
Pass Efficiency Defense 92 139.90 Miami (FL) 87.73 10 Alabama 94.31
Total Defense 52 353.71 Boise St. 210.17 8 LSU 277.63
Scoring Defense 27 18.86 TCU 9.00 5 Alabama 12.50
Pass Defense 104 252.43 TCU 117.88 12 LSU 149.50
Sacks 5 3.43 Florida St. 4.29 1 South Carolina 3.43
Tackles For Loss 24 7.00 Kent St. 9.71 5 Arkansas 7.86

 

Defensive observations. Here's an uh-oh stat: The Gamecocks are 5th in the nation in sacks and the Vols are 113th in sacks allowed. That might actually tell the entire story when Tennessee has the ball, but they're solid against the run, too. Not so good against the pass, which balances things out a bit for that all important total defense category. But they're stingy with the end and red zones, ranking 27th in scoring defense despite a middle-of-the-road total defense.

SPECIAL TEAMS AND TURNOVERS RANKINGS
Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
SEC Leader Actual
Net Punting 60 36.73 Florida 44.55 8 Florida 44.55
Punt Returns 112 3.58 Maryland 23.24 12 Mississippi 20.63
Kickoff Returns 83 20.74 Kansas St. 29.04 9 Florida 26.68
Turnover Margin 101 -.86 Oregon 1.71 12 Alabama 1.13

 

Special teams and turnovers observations. Oh, look. Punt returns and kickoff returns of 112th and 83rd, respectively. Woo for that. They're also not doing well in net punting or turnovers, so there are some intangibles to hang hopes on.

Stastical Comparison

Here's how the teams looked when the RTT BlogPoll Computery Thing chewed them up and spit them out.

R Team WL SOS PED RD 3DO TD PEO OPPG TO 3DD
23 South Carolina Logo 25 22 92 13 5 52 7 27 46 68
90 Tennessee Logo 90 13 57 75 115 88 92 83 95 69

 

Sort of what you'd expect, except that Tennessee actually ranks better in pass efficiency defense and has compiled its numbers against a marginally stronger schedule. In all of the other categories, though, South Carolina ranks well ahead of the Vols.

Players to watch for

Category Player National
Rank
Actual
OFFENSE
Rushing Marcus Lattimore 37 89.67
Brian Maddox 33.00
Passing Efficiency (Min. 15 Att./Game) Stephen Garcia 5 170.23
Total Offense Stephen Garcia 40 249.86
Marcus Lattimore 89.67
Receptions Per Game Alshon Jeffery 13 7.00
Tori Gurley T-83 4.29
Receiving Yards Per Game Alshon Jeffery 3 121.14
Tori Gurley 42.43
Marcus Lattimore 35.67
Scoring Marcus Lattimore T-3 12.00
Spencer Lanning 5.57
Alshon Jeffery 5.14
DEFENSE
Interceptions C.C. Whitlock .14
DeVonte Holloman .14
Stephon Gilmore .14
Sacks Devin Taylor T-15 .93
Melvin Ingram T-46 .64
Travian Robertson .43
Rodney Paulk .36
Tackles DeVonte Holloman 6.14
Tackles For Loss Devin Taylor T-23 1.43
Travian Robertson T-88 1.00
Melvin Ingram .79
Stephon Gilmore .71
SPECIAL TEAMS
Punting (Min. 3.6 Punts/Game) Spencer Lanning 20 44.73
Punt Returns (Min. 1.2 Ret./Game) Stephon Gilmore 63 5.22
Kickoff Returns (Min. 1.2 Ret./Game) Chris Culliver 90 21.75
Bryce Sherman T-97 21.40
Field Goals Spencer Lanning T-98 .57
All-Purpose Runners Marcus Lattimore 45 125.33
Alshon Jeffery 51 121.14


Observations

Offense.

Quarterback. Stephen Garcia is 5th in the nation with a 170.23 pass efficiency rating, and he's 40th in total offense. Much of that is no doubt due to Alshon Jeffery . . .

Receivers. Jeffery is an absolute beast, and his numbers prove it: 13th in the nation in receptions per game and 3rd in receiving yards per game. He and Spurrier and Garcia will no doubt seek to do to Tennessee what Julio Jones and Saban and McElroy did, if the Vols employ the same game plan. Who knows, because the challenge is essentially the same: stop both a fantastic passing game and a fantastic running game. Tori Gurley, by the way, also ranks nationally (83rd) in receptions per game.

Running backs. Marcus Lattimore ranks 37th nationally in rushing, averaging nearly 90 yards per game, and he's tied for 3rd in the nation in scoring. When he was out last week against Vanderbilt, Brian Maddox got 146. All of that makes that team rushing offense that ranks merely 70th perplexing. Maybe they're just not getting him the ball enough. This is Steve Spurrier we're talking about here. Lattimore's supposed to play Saturday, by the way.

Defense. The guys to watch out for here are DLs Devin Taylor, Melvin Ingram, and Travian Robertson. Taylor ranks 15th in sacks and 23rd in tackles for loss, Ingram ranks 46th in sacks, and Robertson ranks 88th in tackles for loss. Note, too, that these guys are all defensive linemen and will be lining up against Tennessee's offensive line.

Special teams. Spencer Lanning is having a solid year as punter for the Gamecocks. Other than that, though, special teams isn't South Carolina's strength.

Head to Head Comparisons

How'd we do with the head-to-head comparisons during Alabama week? Not great, although we weren't off too much on Alabama's passing and Tennessee's score.

  Prediction Result
UT rush 50 159
UT pass 240 156
Alabama rush 120 210
Alabama pass 290 326
UT score 13 10
Alabama score 31 41

 

So let's see if we can be any more accurate this week:

  Tennessee Logo South Carolina Logo
Best Comparable(s)
Result Against Best Comp
Prediction
UT rush v. South Carolina rush defense 121.29
(#91)
101.29
(#13)
Georgia/Alabama
(99.25/113.38)
(#12/#21)
9/159 90
UT pass v. South Carolina pass defense 199.57
(#74)
252.43
(#104)
UAB/Georgia
(219.86/207.50)
(#71/#57)
245/260 280
South Carolina rush v. UT rush defense 161.57
(#75)
143.29
(#70)
Florida/Georgia
(142.14/153.75)
(#74/#58)
150/136 150
South Carolina pass v. UT pass defense 241.57
(#95)
260.71
(T-#31)
Oregon/Alabama
(260.71/253.88)
(T-#31/37)
202/326 240
UT scoring offense v. South Carolina scoring defense 21.43
(#94)
18.86
(#27)
Florida/Georgia
(18.71/19.13)
(#26/#30)
17/14 20
South Carolina scoring offense v. UT scoring defense 29.43
(#83)
29.57
(#53)
Florida/Georgia
(27.57/31.50)
(#62/#39)
31/41 31

 

As always, these are informed guesses rather than mathematical calculations. The general analytical framework is this: We are averaging X in a certain category. The opponent averages Y against that, which is most closely comparable to some identified previous opponent, against whom we did Z. All of that leads to an informed guess labeled as Prediction. The less data you have, the more sketchy the guess, and the guesses range from ALL CAPS SKETCHY WITH EXCLAMATION POINTS at the beginning of the season to merely lower case sketchy for the last game.

This week's example: Tennessee is averaging 21.43 points per game. South Carolina is holding opponents to an average of 18.86, which is one spot behind Florida and three spots ahead of Georgia. Against Florida and Georgia, Tennessee scored 17 and 14 points. The turnovers and getting way behind early killed the Vols' game plan against Georgia, and the yardage stats are closer than I expected them to be, so I bumped the prediction for UT's score up to 20. It may be optimistic, as we haven't scored more than 14 points in the last three games, but it's my best guess.

Overall, I think the line's a little high on this one. If you just look at the scores, you'd want to say that the Gamecocks should win 34 or more to 17 or so. But the yardage stats are much closer, so I bumped UT up a bit and SC down a bit.

Sketchy Conclusions

  • Much like Alabama, South Carolina has a pick-your-poison offense. They have a world-class receiver in Alshon Jeffery and a running back in Marcus Lattimore who looks to be world-class at times as well. If Tennessee employs the same game plan as it did against Alabama (focus more on stopping the RBs), expect the Gamecocks to have something like the same success with Jeffery that 'Bama did with Julio Jones. I'd expect Tennessee, however, to focus more on stopping Garcia and Jeffery this week, though, for a couple of reasons. First, they've been a bit more consistent than has Lattimore. Second, Tennessee shouldn't want to die the same way twice in consecutive weeks. Still, if that happens, expect Lattimore to have a big week. One or the other should be acceptable, but allowing both to have great success would not be good.
  • Brace yourself for sacks and general havoc in Tennessee's backfield. South Carolina ranks 5th in the nation in sacks, and the Vols rank 113th in sacks allowed. Three of the Gamecocks' defensive linemen rank nationally in sacks, tackles for loss, or both.
  • If Tennessee has an advantage, it's in special teams. Imagine that.

Predictions

  • South Carolina 31, Tennessee 20. Sorry. Again.

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