Tennessee Volunteers at South Carolina Gamecocks Statistical Preview

Jeff Blake-US PRESSWIRE

South Carolina appears to have a statistical advantage against the Vols this weekend, but it's not exactly what you might think, and it should actually be a good, close game.

A weekly look at our upcoming opponent's recent history, with animated drive charts, links to SB Nation game pages, and statistical comparisons. Caveats. The sketchy conclusions and predictions are at the end, so skip ahead if you like.

Schedule and Animated Drive Charts

South Carolina Logo
@ Vanderbilt Commodores 8/30/12 win 17 - 13 coverage
East Carolina Pirates 9/8/12 win 48 - 10 coverage
UAB Blazers 9/15/12 win 49 - 6 coverage
Missouri Tigers 9/22/12 win 31 - 10 coverage
@ Kentucky Wildcats 9/29/12 win 38 - 17 coverage
Georgia Bulldogs 10/6/12 win 35 - 7 coverage
@ LSU Tigers 10/13/12 loss 21 - 23 coverage
@ Florida Gators 10/20/12 loss 11 - 44 coverage
Tennessee Logo
@ N.C. State Wolfpack 8/31/12 win 35 - 21 coverage
Georgia State Panthers 9/8/12 win 51 - 13 coverage
Florida Gators 9/15/12 loss 20 - 37 coverage
Akron Zips 9/22/12 win 47 - 26 coverage
@ Georgia Bulldogs 9/29/12 loss 44 - 51 coverage
@ Mississippi St. Bulldogs 10/13/12 loss 31 - 41 coverage
Alabama Crimson Tide 10/20/12 loss 13 - 44 coverage

According to the NCAA's "Toughest Schedule" PDF, Tennessee's schedule is now tied for 4th, and South Carolina's is 40th. Apart from the Georgia game, the Gamecocks have not really been all that impressive. LSU and Florida are very, very good teams, though, and Georgia's pretty good, so this is a dangerous team. Note, too, that Georgia was at home, and the losses to LSU and the Gators, as well as the squeaker against Vandy, were on the road. This one's at home. Of course.

Here are the drive charts from the Gamecocks' games against our two common opponents:

FULL SCREEN VERSION

FULL SCREEN VERSION

Animated Drive Chart brought to you by Gameday Depot.

Thumper against the Bulldogs, Thumpee against the Gators. But look at that short field they gave Florida. They didn't really give up that many long drives. Cordarrelle, are you listening?

National Unit Rankings

OFFENSIVE RANKINGS
Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
Conf Leader Actual
Rushing Offense 81 144.88 Army 389.14 10 Texas A&M 221.29
Passing Offense 85 210.00 Baylor 390.67 9 Arkansas 311.43
Total Offense 95 354.88 Oklahoma St. 605.33 10 Texas A&M 524.57
Scoring Offense 50 31.25 Louisiana Tech 56.14 7 Texas A&M 43.00
Passing Efficiency 29 146.90 Alabama 183.30 4 Alabama 183.30
Sacks Allowed 102 2.75 Air Force .00 12 Tennessee .43

Offensive observations. Wow. Raise your hand if you thought South Carolina would be 81st in Rushing Offense with Marcus Lattimore playing. Yeah, he was limited against Florida, but one game doesn't equal 81, I don't think. And the rest of the offense . . . not what I expected. Lattimore is expected to start against the Vols this Saturday. Of course.

DEFENSIVE RANKINGS
Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
Conf Leader Actual
Rushing Defense 14 106.25 Alabama 58.71 4 Alabama 58.71
Pass Efficiency Defense 20 109.70 Alabama 83.11 6 Alabama 83.11
Total Defense 9 282.13 Alabama 195.57 4 Alabama 195.57
Scoring Defense 15 16.25 Alabama 8.29 5 Alabama 8.29
Pass Defense 15 175.88 Arizona St. 130.43 4 Alabama 136.86
Sacks 5 3.63 Tulsa 4.38 1 South Carolina 3.63
Tackles For Loss 7 8.00 Arizona St. 9.43 3 Missouri 8.43

Defensive observations. Here's where the Gamecocks are tough. Balanced against both the run and the pass, and 9th in Total Defense because of it. Their awesome sack machine and backfield disruptor will be going against our brick wall and turrets. That should be fun to watch. Let's hope, anyway.

SPECIAL TEAMS AND TURNOVERS RANKINGS
Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
Conf Leader Actual
Net Punting 98 34.72 Florida 44.24 12 Florida 44.24
Punt Returns 14 14.18 Kansas St. 26.25 3 Missouri 20.53
Kickoff Returns 92 19.25 Rutgers 35.17 14 Alabama 26.30
Turnover Margin 73 -.25 Mississippi St. 2.43 8 Mississippi St. 2.43

Special teams and turnovers observations. Mixed bag here. The main thing to watch is punt returns.

Players to Watch

Category Player National
Rank
Actual
OFFENSE
Rushing Marcus Lattimore 71 74.62
Connor Shaw 39.71
Passing Efficiency (Min. 15 Att./Game) Connor Shaw 28 147.02
Dylan Thompson 136.04
Total Offense Connor Shaw 88 180.00
Dylan Thompson 84.29
Marcus Lattimore 74.62
Receptions Per Game Marcus Lattimore 3.00
Receiving Yards Per Game Damiere Byrd 37.88
Scoring Marcus Lattimore T-77 7.50
Adam Yates 6.00

Offensive Observations. Again, I'm quite surprised that Lattimore isn't ranked higher despite missing most of the Florida game. QB Connor Shaw is efficient, but not particularly spectacular. Note that Lattimore leads the team in receptions, so watch for dump offs, screens, and wheel routes.

Category Player National
Rank
Actual
DEFENSE
Interceptions Jimmy Legree .25
DeVonte Holloman .25
Shaq Wilson .25
Sacks Jadeveon Clowney T-18 .94
Chaz Sutton T-77 .50
Aldrick Fordham .44
Tackles
Tackles For Loss Jadeveon Clowney T-10 1.75
Kelcy Quarles .86
DeVonte Holloman .81
Chaz Sutton .75
Devin Taylor .75

Defense. Jadeveon Clowney is It. Like Stephen King's It. Frightening. Thankfully, keeping Tyler Bray from getting sacked and broken in half is something we actually do quite well.

Category Player National
Rank
Actual
SPECIAL TEAMS
Punting (Min. 3.6 Punts/Game) Tyler Hull 81 38.59
Punt Returns (Min. 1.2 Ret./Game) Ace Sanders 10 15.70
Kickoff Returns (Min. 1.2 Ret./Game)
Field Goals Adam Yates T-83 .75
All-Purpose Runners Marcus Lattimore 95.25

Special teams. Oh, yes. Punt Returns is attributable to that Ace Sanders guy. Let's not kick to him.

Head to Head Comparisons

Tennessee Logo South Carolina Logo
Comps
Result Against Comps
Prediction
UT rush v. South Carolina rush defense 168.43
(#57)
106.25
(#14)
Florida/NC State
(97.29/127.43)
(#10/#35)
83/191 130
UT pass v. South Carolina pass defense 285.29
(#28 )
175.88
(#15)
Florida/MS St.
(184.71/188.57)
(#20/#21)
257/148 190
South Carolina rush v. UT rush defense 186.43
(#89 )
144.88
(#81)
NC State/Akron
(130.29/117.63)
(#89/102)
119/115 130
South Carolina pass v. UT pass defense 258.86
(#92 )
210
(#85)
Alabama
(220.14)
(#75)
306 260
UT scoring offense v. South Carolina scoring defense 34.43
(#37 )
16.25
(#15)
MS St./Florida
(14.43/12.14)
(#9/#4)
31/20 27
South Carolina scoring offense v. UT scoring defense 33.29
(#96 )
31.25
(#50)
Florida/Akron
(30.14/29.75)
(#54/#56)
37/26 33
Again with the caveats: These are informed guesses rather than mathematical calculations. But here's the general analytical framework: 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. And one more time for emphasis: 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. We're currently somewhere in the middle.

Semi-Serious but Sketchy Conclusions

  • The Gamecocks have been a bit inconsistent, thumping Georgia and getting thumped at Florida. It may be related to whether they're playing at home or on the road and whether they have Marcus Lattimore in the starting lineup. They're at home and will have Marcus Lattimore in the starting lineup this weekend. Of course.
  • Surprise! South Carolina's offense is not what you expected. Rushing Offense, Passing Offense, and Total Offense are all ranked 81st or below in the nation. They do score better than that, but still.
  • As always, however, they are solid on defense.
  • The matchup to watch is disruptor defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (ranked 18th in the nation in sacks and 10th in tackles for loss) against a Tennessee offensive line and QB that ranks 2nd in sacks allowed and 14th in tackles for loss allowed.
  • Memo to punting unit: Kicking to Ace Sanders is hazardous to my health.
  • This could be a very good game and actually should be fairly close, although South Carolina appears to have the advantage.

Predictions

  • South Carolina 33, Tennessee 27
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