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South Carolina Gamecocks Testimony: Tennessee Edition

I honestly don’t think anything I’m saying here can do justice to what we saw last Saturday night, whether you watched the game at home or were lucky enough to be at Williams Brice Stadium like me .

The win over the Tennessee Volunteers (then No. 5) was undoubtedly the program’s biggest win since defeating the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens in 2019, but there’s a massive difference between those two wins.

The game against Georgia was so close to a miracle as the offense managed just one touchdown, forcing the team to fully capitalize on defensive success in addition to clearing the clock. This team also won only four games in the season.

In 2022 there was no “You were lucky”. South Carolina was the better team on both sides of the ball.

And the best? This team is not ready yet.

Seven wins will already give this team a respectable bowl game, but eight wins opens up the very slim possibility of a Citrus Bowl appearance if Ole Miss drops one at Mississippi State this week.

That win was a great resume booster as they come and even with a loss at Clemson the bowls will fall on themselves when it comes to landing Shane Beamer and co.

On. To. That. Grades.

Offensive grade: A+++++++++++++++

I’ll start off by saying (and correcting myself if I’m wrong in the comments) that this may have been the best performance by a South Carolina quarterback of all time, in addition to one of the best offensive performances against a respectable Power Five school that I have seen have ever seen.

All for Spencer Rattler to be named SEC’s Co-Offensive Player of the Week? Insanity.

And to bring the whole thing up, wasn’t Satt or didn’t name Satt the thing about the games, I really think he was. The staff probably just did their homework and saw – as I did – that against Tennessee you *had to pass* to succeed.

No reading options, no screens, no predictable runs down the middle, or forcing Jaheim Bell to play a position he’s honestly not suited for. They had to hurl the thing, and they did.

Kudos to the offensive line as well, because a big reason Rattler was able to pass with that success was because he had time in the pocket and didn’t have to force an imbalanced throw or just run for his life whenever he fell behind.

But, man. Spencer Rattler really showed some flashes from his Oklahoma days and showed what we thought we were going to get from him all season, throwing for a whopping 438 yards and SIX touchdowns.

Here’s a video to help you count if you couldn’t read that number.

Seeing some electric throws like this certainly made me hopeful for what was to come, but I never expected the offense to rack up 63 points.

Even on a day when the pass was highlighted, Jaheim Bell managed to rush for 82 yards as a running back and also catch two touchdowns as a receiver.

One of my favorite parts was “Juice” Wells with the kind of play everyone had come to expect from Jalin Hyatt, catching 11 passes for 177 yards!

Overall, this team has only stung once. Other than that (and I’m not counting halves), every drive ended in a touchdown.

I could get used to that.

Defensive grade: B

I’m not going to panic here because the offense put up 63 once again. So how much help did they really need?

The defense could have even allowed for more than 38 points and the Cocks would still have won comfortably.

The reason why I give a “2” though and nothing worse? They played one of the best offenses in the country. Allowing 38 points was the expectation.

The Vols fielded 63 against Missouri, 44 against Kentucky, 52 against Alabama, 40 against LSU, and 38 against Florida. By those standards, USC actually did pretty well!

And the scoreboard might not show it, but I had a feeling the defense came up with big plays when the team needed them, like that sack by Tonka Hemingway on the 2nd and 18th during Tennessee’s second drive that included a Hendon hooker for the Fumbling forced and all stopped those potential third down conversions to get the volunteers to make a field goal or settle for a field goal.

Aside from letting the occasional big play go, I found the defense played well.

Special Teams Note: Incomplete

There’s usually some kind of flashy special teams play or beamer ball sighting, but the opportunities to do anything meaningful just weren’t there.

The Cocks punted once.

Almost every kickoff in South Carolina resulted in a touchback.

Each volunteer punt was either caught fair, knocked down by Tennessee, or knocked out.

Nothing happened because nothing could happen.

That day was all about offense and that’s all right!

Overall rating: A++++++++++

How many other ways can I say South Carolina beat one of the best rosters in the country and look great doing it?

This was an eternity win and something you will tell your children about, especially after seeing it in person.

As a Carolina fan, we won’t get many other games like this one, so we just have to appreciate it.

And hey, if South Carolina loses to Clemson this week, take it easy on them.

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