Jenkins is Carolina's chief threat

When the quarterback is a team's leading rusher, you figure (A) that quarterback is an outstanding runner or (B) that team lacks quality running backs.

In terms of the South Carolina Gamecocks, who host Tennessee Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, the answer is (C) all of the above.

Senior quarterback Corey Jenkins leads Carolina in rushing with 574 yards on 135 carries, an average of 71.8 yards per game. Andrew Pinnock, the Gamecocks' 250-pound tailback, is a distant second with 382 rushing yards, an average of 47.8 per game.

''Corey's just a tough, physical football player,'' Carolina head coach Lou Holtz says. ''He's a good competitor with a strong arm.... He's very, very competitive and a good leader. He's really done a nice job for us.''

Tennessee's head man adds a hearty amen to that.

''Their quarterback, Jenkins, is a real, real special athlete,'' Phillip Fulmer said. ''He's a strong guy, very athletic guy with a nice arm. He and Pinnock are a couple of guys that you'd better know where they are all the time.''

The challenge of stopping Jenkins falls to Vol defensive coordinator John Chavis. He concedes that Carolina's QB poses unique problems.

''Their quarterback really is a big running back,'' Chavis says. ''He's their leading rusher, by far, and he's a guy you have to account for in this offense.''

Although best known for his running skills, Jenkins is no slouch as a passer. He has completed 59 percent of his throws for 1,210 yards with seven TDs and seven interceptions. He averages just 151.2 passing yards per game, 100 fewer than UT's Casey Clausen (253.7 per game), yet Jenkins' quarterback rating (135.9) is almost equal to Clausen's (141.6).

''Jenkins throws the deep ball extremely well,'' Chavis says. ''You've got to play the entire field. Jenkins has probably as strong an arm as you'll see. He's gotten better and better, and he's more comfortable throwing the ball. He's not the kind of guy who's going to sit back there in a dropback scheme and throw 40 or 50 times a game but he can throw the ball down the field well.''

Even Holtz seems a little surprised by what Jenkins has accomplished in his first year as a starting quarterback at the collegiate level.

''He's exceptionally accurate for what you would think of as a non-quarterback,'' Holtz said. ''He's really a strong safety playing quarterback. He doesn't have enough experience at the quarterback position and he doesn't always read defenses. But he's made a lot of progress in that respect.''

One thing working in favor of Tennessee is that the Vols already have faced three mobile quarterbacks this season -- Andrico Hines of Middle Tennessee State, Matt Jones of Arkansas and Tyler Watts of Alabama. All three of those teams ran some triple-option plays, as South Carolina does.

''It helps ... having seen the option, having seen a running, athletic quarterback,'' Fulmer says. ''The formations are similar and it's similar attacks.''

A key to Saturday's game will be Tennessee's ability or inability to rattle Jenkins, who has shown a tendency to be mistake-prone.

''We've had 19 turnovers,'' Holtz said. ''Only one team in the SEC has had more than that, and our quarterback has had about half of those. That's been disappointing.''


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