Cocks due to break loose?

Heading into Saturday night's game at Tennessee, the South Carolina Gamecocks haven't managed a touchdown in their last six quarters. The Vols' fan base might consider that a plus. The Vols' defensive coordinator does not.

"I wouldn't say that even if it was true," John Chavis said this week. "They're plenty capable of scoring a lot of points. Coach Spurrier's record shows that.

"He'll have them ready to play Tennessee; there's no question about that. We'll get their best shot. When you get their best shot they're talented enough to beat anybody."

Like everyone else in the Southeastern Conference, South Carolina has been an up-and-down team this fall. The Gamecocks hung 31 points on Mississippi State in Game 5 and 38 on Kentucky in Game 6 but managed just two field goals in a 17-6 home-field loss to Vanderbilt last weekend in Game 8.

Chavis says Tennessee fans shouldn't read much into the Gamecocks' weak performance last Saturday. He isn't.

"They've got talent," the coordinator said. "They've got a receiver (Kenny McKinley) who's as good as anybody. But you don't want to single him out because they've got other good receivers."

Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier oversees one of the most sophisticated passing attacks in college football. He burned Tennessee for 62 points while coaching the Florida Gators in 1995. Further complicating matters is the fact Spurrier has been playing two quarterbacks lately, freshman Chris Smelley and senior Blake Mitchell. Chavis isn't concerned with any of that, however.

"What we've got to do is take care of Tennessee, be as good as we can be," the Vol coordinator said. "We've got to take one day at a time and play each play like it's the last play we'll ever play. If we'll approach it that way we're playing good enough that we can play winning football."

One thing Tennessee must do to play winning football this weekend is avoid the kind of costly penalties it incurred in last weekend's 41-17 loss at Alabama. Six times UT's defense was flagged, extending Tide possessions.

"In the first six ballgames we had six or seven defensive penalties total," Chavis recalled. "For us to have six penalties in one game that continued drives – on five of them, without the penalty we're off the field – you can't do those things."

Still, the coordinator says his players are not to blame for the deadly mistakes.

"Those things all relate to coaching," he said. "We were trying to play aggressively. We were trying to make plays. It seems like when it rains it pours, and it did for us last Saturday. We've got to eliminate those (penalties). You can't do that and win football games."

Especially against a Steve Spurrier offense that is due a breakout after going six quarters without a touchdown.


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