A team with the depth and experience problems of three coaches in four years, plus four of its five best players injured or off the team, faces its third Top 15 opponent and Top 10 defense in a row. They'll do so with a true freshman quarterback who has thrown exactly zero passes in college.
Same problem, same result, right?
Or does this one feel a little different?
Maybe it's the fact that it's simply not LSU or Alabama. Maybe it's the fact that we're still not used to treating South Carolina as an equal (or close to it). Maybe it's the spark created by Justin Worley's presence. Maybe it's the absence of Stephen Garcia and Marcus Lattimore.
Maybe it's all of those things and then some. Maybe it's been so long since we won a big game, we know how good it would feel to break through and can sense it coming.
Sooner or later, we have to win one of these. Derek Dooley knows it. Knows it doesn't have to be this year with all the injuries, but at some point you have to stop being close, and at some point you have to man up and play football in the second half. Sooner or later.
But man, sooner would be such a relief. A release.
Here's how Tennessee can do it Saturday night against #14 South Carolina.
Is South Carolina's defense overrated?
It's been a significant storyline all week for Tennessee: after facing Alabama (first) and LSU (third), two of the nation's best in total defense, here comes South Carolina (seventh).
Butbutbut...look how they got there:
- East Carolina: 345 yards (260 pass - 85 rush)
- Georgia: 436 yards (248 pass - 188 rush)
- Navy: 335 yards (61 pass - 274 rush)
- Vanderbilt: 77 yards (73 pass - 4 rush)
- Auburn: 358 yards (112 pass - 246 rush)
- Kentucky: 96 yards (17 pass - 79 rush)
- Mississippi State: 296 yards (165 pass - 131 rush)