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Instant takeaways: Tennessee loses to South Carolina

A few things stand out.

Tennessee v South Carolina Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Vols let one slip away in Columbia tonight. Another wild game in this series ended up with Tennessee coming out on the wrong end. Here are three instant thoughts from Tennessee’s 24-27 loss to South Carolina.

Self-inflicted wounds

Tennessee was penalized nine times for 75 yards. South Carolina? Two times for nine yards. What made it all worse was the timing. I don’t have the stat in front of me, but it seemed like every single penalty happened on a key third down, making things tougher on Jarrett Guarantano and the offense.

To their credit, Tennessee still went 11-16 on third down, but couldn’t convert late in the game when it mattered the most.

What happened to the defense?

Jeremy Pruitt’s defense was playing pretty well tonight with a 21-9 lead. And then everything changed. South Carolina went tempo before the halftime break and scored easily. Unfortunately, that didn’t change for the rest of the night.

The Gamecocks scored three touchdowns on the night, each of which happening in under two minutes. They went no-huddle and Tennessee had no answer tonight. The secondary was beaten deep a couple of times with Bryan Edwards bringing in the big one that changed the game.

Pruitt wasn’t able to get much pressure without bringing the house and the run defense folded like a wet paper sack in the second half. South Carolina ended up with 224 yards on the ground tonight, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. That’s just not going to get the job done. It was a disappointing step backwards all the way around for the defensive unit.

Lack of aggression before half

Tennessee got the ball back after a South Carolina touchdown with about 40 seconds to play before halftime. They chose to sit on the ball and head to halftime with a 14-9 lead.

40 seconds and a timeout in your pocket is an eternity in college football. Can something go wrong? Sure. But Tennessee has the athletes on the outside to make some plays down the field. I hated not trying for points there. They ended up needing about 30 yards for a legitimate try with a pretty good kicker.

Tennessee ended up losing by three points. It may have meant nothing, it just makes you wonder.

What’s on your mind after that brutal beat? Let us know below.