Tennessee’s defense – a flawed group but generally good for most of the season – faltered in Saturday’s dreadful loss, 63-38 at South Carolina.
A 22-point underdog pounced on Tennessee and never relented, beating then-ranked 5th Vols by 25 points, amassing 606 yards along the way.
South Carolina Junior Quarterback Spencer Rattler – prospect and former Oklahoma freshman – entered Saturday’s game with eight touchdown passes and nine interceptions on the season. He completed 30 of 37 passes for 453 yards, six touchdowns, and zero interceptions against the Vols, whose college football chances were dashed as a result.
full back Aaron Beasley — who had five tackles, three tackles for loss and one sack at South Carolina — basically said Tennessee’s defense learned a painful lesson about humility at Columbia.
“The most important thing we had was execution,” said Beasley, a senior official. “We didn’t carry out, you know, the calls we should have. Just, in my opinion, the urgency, man, to start a game we have enough urgency. We thought we’d come in there and, you know, everything would fall where it was supposed to.” But, you know, it doesn’t work that way in college ball.
“I think that was the most important thing, just the execution. And the urgency just wasn’t there.”
Admittedly, Paisley was at a loss to explain why anyone on the Tennessee defense felt that way, but he seemed convinced that this was the case.
Tennessee was a three-point favorite over the Gamecocks, and the majority of South Carolina fans—at least those on the Internet—claimed to be in awe of the game. The Vols’ best offense in the country, on paper, should have made its way after South Carolina’s pointless offense at Florida the previous week.
Tennessee’s defense may have bought a lot in that, in Beasley’s mind.
“Like I said, we just… I suppose felt like we were going to give it to us,” Paisley said. “We felt like we didn’t have to, you know, go in there and work for it. We thought they were just going to lay down, you know. Props to them. You know, they went out, they played a great game. They played physical.”
South Carolina scored touchdowns on its first five possessions against a Tennessee defense that did not have a senior quarterback Jeremy Banks Boss reasons Josh Hubbell refused to explain. The Gamecocks then went three-and-out to open the third quarter before scoring touchdowns on their next four possessions.
The Gamecocks had 10 possessions other than two drives running out the clock to end each inning. Nine of them made it to the end zone.
Beasley said the Tennessee defense was not called in enough to respond.
“I guess we didn’t realize at the time, what was going on. I don’t know,” Beasley said. They didn’t do anything amazing, anything unnatural.
“We just didn’t…we didn’t do what we were supposed to do at the end of the day.”
Tennessee, which dropped four spots to No. 9 in the Associated Press poll this week, is ending the regular season with a tougher-than-expected Saturday game against rival Vanderbilt. The Vols, who will be led by a backup quarterback Joe Milton IIIyou need to win in order to book a spot in the New Year’s Six game.