KEYS TO THE GAME:
Tennessee has to come out with a full head of steam IN THE SECOND HALF. The Volunteers have failed to bring the same level on intensity in the second half for several weeks. On the other hand, the Gamecocks have post three come-from-behind four-quarter victories in 2011. The Vols must play with the same intensity in the second half to stand any chance in this week's game. Also, Justin Worley must distribute the football to his playmakers and not try and do too much. Avoiding turnovers and taking what the Gamecocks give him is the key.
South Carolina has to attack the Volunteers through the air. Connor Shaw has to continue to expose the Tennessee secondary, which hasn't shown the ability to cover anyone this year in the passing game. Alshon Jeffery will have the opportunity to have expose the Vols in a big way and will need to take advantage and get his big-time production expectations back on track.
— The Volunteers are playing a top-20 opponent for the third consecutive week.
— In the last nine meetings with South Carolina, the Vols have forced at least three turnovers six times including two contests in which they had four takeaways.
— There are six members of the Tennessee football squad who have already earned bachelors degrees.
— Alshon Jeffrey (2,731) needs just 50 yards to match Kenny McKinley (2,781) as the school's all-time leader in receiving yards.
— The Gamecocks have surrendered the game's first points in all seven contests this season and in 10 straight games dating back to last year.
— With their sixth win of the season at Mississippi State, the Gamecocks became bowl-eligible for a school-record eighth straight season.
Justin Worley — No stats
Tauren Poole — 116 att., 462 yds., 2 TD
Da'Rick Rogers — 37 catches, 608 yds., 6 TD
Connor Shaw — 50-78, 495 yds., 5 TD/2 INT
Brandon Wilds — 13 att.., 75 yds., 0 TD
Alshon Jeffery — 30 catches, 451 yds., 5 TD
WHAT A WIN MEANS:
For Tennessee, a win would be important to get the Volunteers running in the right direction again. After opening the season with three wins in September, the Vols have lost three straight games in October. A win would also be crucial to the confidence of true freshman quarterback Justin Worley. If the team could get a win under their new QB it might inspire what the Vols need to finish out the season on a high note.
For South Carolina, a win would be a huge step in the absence of Marcus Lattimore. There has to be lingering doubts about whether they can get the job done without their star running back. If they are able to go into Neyland Stadium and get a win without him it could give them the confidence they need to close their season out with a full head of steam.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Justin Worley (freshman, quarterback)
Worley will be making his first start in the orange and white. His play will be crucial for the Volunteers success this Saturday night. He will need to distribute the ball to his playmakers and take what the defense gives him.
The coaches have raved about Worley's poise and it will be extremely important that he shows that poise this week. The night atmosphere in front of an enormous crowd will be a serious change for the South Carolina native, but he must handle it well for the Vols to be successful.
Da'Rick Rogers (sophomore, wide receiver)
Rogers is still adjusting to the fact that he is with out his two best friends and classmates Tyler Bray and Justin Hunter out on the field with him, but you can tell there is some extra pep in his step now that Justin Worley is at the helm.
Rogers needs to be able to get open against one of the best pass defenses in the country. It will be important for Rogers to catch anything that comes his way to give the Vols new freshman quarterback some confidence.
Brian Randolph (freshman, safety)
Randolph has moved into the starting spot at safety, which enables Prentiss Waggner to move to safety. The freshman has shown an ability to make some solid tackles, but the Vols will need more this week.
Alshon Jeffery is one of the most talented receivers in the conference and will likely be targeted a multitude of times Saturday night. Randolph will likely help in coverage for the first time given the absence of Marcus Lattimore and he will need to come up big. An interception wouldn't hurt.
Alshon Jeffrey (junior, wide receiver)
Jeffrey has seen the film on Tennessee, so has Spurrier, so has Connor Shaw and they all saw the same thing — a terrible pass defense. Jeffery will likely have a chance to catch a lot of balls Saturday.
If Jeffery is able to get loose it could be a very long day for the Vols. Prentiss Waggner will need to be on his A game in order to stop this physical specimen.
Brandon Wilds (freshman, running back)
Wilds will be replacing Marcus Lattimore — if that is possible. Tennessee's run defense has been solid for several weeks, but they have been loading the box and with the absence of the Gamecocks star back they will likely back out of the box a bit.
It will be up to Wilds to take advantage of the softer run defense that the Vols will likely march out Saturday. If he is able to run the ball successfully it would provide a deadly balance for the South Carolina offense.
Deven Taylor (junior, defensive end)
Taylor will have a chance to bear down on freshman quarterback Justin Worley. If he is able to help pressure Worley it could help rattle his confidence and effect the Vols game plan early.
Pressure could be one of the main things that could dismantle the Volunteers offense this week, but the Vols offense line has been stellar in pass defense. Taylor on Ja'Wuan James will be an interesting matchup to watch all day.