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Inside Enemy Territory: Tennessee Edition

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Checking in on the folks who wear the ugliest shade of orange this side of Clemson.

Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to Inside Enemy Territory, which this week takes us to Vol Nation, a well-known stronghold for fans of the Tennessee Volunteers. As one might expect, folks in Knoxville are feeling better about life after the Auburn upset, although big mean ‘Bama took some wind out of their sails as usual. Nonetheless, they’re very much looking forward to finally snapping Will Muschamp’s perfect mark against the Vols, and this is a big game for their bowl hopes as well.

Let’s get to it.

Before the season started, SCe is the team I have been looking forward to playing. I thought this game would more closely show how much improvement the team has made. They have decent talent and a proven system and are typical of the talent level we need to get back to “competing” for SEC wins. Not championships but wins against mid pack teams. A win shows we should compete the remainder of schedule and a loss tells me a bowl game is pretty much a dream.

First, I’d like to point out how incredible it is that South Carolina is a benchmark game for Tennessee now. Secondly, that last line is very true of the Gamecocks as well. Take care of business against the Vols, and a solid finish to the season (including a bowl) is much more likely. Drop this one, and...well, we don’t need to go there yet.

That’s a pretty big debate from their fans on who to start. I have also seen Bentley has had some rough first half’s and better second half’s that put them back into games that they just don’t close out. So had they played well for a full game, they could easily be a 1 loss team with their only loss being UGA where they never stood a chance.

This might be one of the nicest things I’ve ever seen a Vols fan say about South Carolina, so I’m including it for posterity. Very generous interpretation of USC’s season from an opposing fan.

As others have said, this will be a fight and I’m not really sure who will come out with a W. We both really need this win for bowl eligibility, probably them more than us with likely losses to Florida and Clemson after us.

Can’t argue here, although I’ll be optimistic and say that Florida could still be in toss-up territory. We’re still a few weeks out from that one, so we’ll see what happens between now and then.

No turnovers and we’ll win this game.

Major key for South Carolina as well.

The key to beating Tennessee is walking into the game with the assumption you are going to win and bully our player as soon as you walk on the field. Get early sacks on the QB and get quick points on the board. Get those two things done and 50% of the Tennessee starters start looking to just get the game over with. If you don’t give Tennessee a chance to win early, they quit.

I’d find this encouraging if the Gamecocks didn’t start most of their games looking like they’ve pulled an all-nighter cramming for a test and are just guessing on most of the questions anyhow. Interesting observation nonetheless.

Bentley has an Int problem. We just need to double team Deebo and make Bentley take chances. SCAR doesn’t quit though, so we need to be ready for a slugfest.

We have better weapons than SCAR, so we just need a serviceable day out of the OL...kind of like Auburn game.

I’d like to say that South Carolina has better weapons than this poster is giving it credit for, but I guess it doesn’t really matter how talented your receiving corps is when they can’t catch a cold right now. Let’s hope that changes.

I think this team has played better on the road and SC isn’t even as good as Auburn. Unless our players just meltdown, they should win this game. They were one catch away in the endzone on the last play from beating SC last year...and I think SC has taken a step back this season while UT has improved. You have to take the Alabama game and just toss it aside. That is not an indicator of how this team will do against SC.

Agree that the Alabama game shouldn’t be held against the Vols. I think both of these teams are still boxes of chocolates, though — even this far into the season, I still don’t feel comfortable assigning “has improved” or “has regressed” to either of them. USC has had its bad moments, to be sure, but it’s also had really good ones, and the same is obviously true of Tennessee. You just don’t know what you’re going to get with either squad, although I don’t think it’s a stretch to say South Carolina is more established than a team with a first-year head coach. I guess this is just what happens when your team is having a mediocre year — it’s a mixed bag that can be tough to sort through.

Not counting the two cupcakes, we’ve been outscored 207 to 98 through the entirety of the five P5 games.

Even taking away the 69-3 first quarters, we’re still down 138 to 95 in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th.

We are starting slow, absolutely. But a lot of it is that we are just not very good yet, in general.

Hmm. Well, the Gamecocks also tend to be atrocious in the first quarter, so it sounds like a classic stoppable-force-versus-movable-object matchup is coming right up!

Teams that get obliterated by Alabama usually lose the next week. Especially to a team coming off a bye week, in a night game, playing in a very difficult atmosphere, which Columbia SCar certainly is.

Interesting point, but also brings up a question of my own: When was the last time South Carolina actually played well after a bye week? It often feels like the Gamecocks forget how to play football during the layoff, so who knows, that may not hurt UT much.

I know no one really wants to hear this , but they probably have better depth and a little more talent in the lines of scrimmage. We’ll have to steal one here if we get it. The Auburn game gave us some hope , but it’s still a uphill climb with this bunch.

Seeing as depth is still an issue for South Carolina as well, this is impressive and encouraging to hear.

In summary, Vols fans are cautiously optimistic, but most seem to be expecting a close and tough game. Man, these lean years have really humbled that crowd.