Remember all those happy feelings from a couple weeks ago? Yeah, those likely aren’t coming back until at least next season.
No more officiating or health excuses. This team laid an egg against one of the bottom-feeders of the SEC.
After four weeks of respectable football from this Gamecock defense, Tennessee was the team that finally figured out how to shred it.
Now that the Vols exposed the defense’s Achilles’ heal (AKA the long ball/directly attacking the weak secondary), this team doesn’t really have much left and that’s the depressing truth.
Enough of that, let’s get to the participation trophies.
Offensive Game Ball: Shi Smith
A stat that shocked me was that Ryan Hilinski passed for 319 yards. With this offense coming to life for what felt like one play, I was surprised to say the least.
That “one play” was a 75-yard touchdown to Smith on the very first snap of the game, which was less about the accuracy of Hilinski and more about the game-changing speed of Smith that helped him completely outrun the whole Tennessee defense.
Although that catch was good for one-third of USC’s point total, Smith didn’t stop there. He brought in 11 passes for 156 yards and one touchdown.
To be fair, many of those receptions were dump off plays near the line of scrimmage, but that was just the way the plays were getting called.
It was also good to see Shi Smith have a game in what has been a very mediocre junior year for the wide receiver.
Defensive Game Ball: N/A
This team couldn’t rush the quarterback, stop the run, turn the ball over, or cover the pass no matter the depth.
Don’t even get me started on the tackling.
Tennessee looked very comfortable on offense all game and it was simply a poor effort from this usually stout Gamecock defense.
If anyone was deserving of any kind of recognition, drop a name in the comment section, but I expect most of us to be in agreement.
Honorable Mentions: Bryan Edwards
I know I shouldn’t give too much press to highlight reel plays in this bad of an L but WOW what a catch.
In the last possession of the first half, Hilinski threw up an 18-yard prayer and the ghost of OBJ made its way into the body of Edwards with him making a beautiful one-handed grab that was originally called a touchdown but was later called back.
Once again, without this play, the game would have been even more of a train-wreck.
And thus concludes another episode of “I Love Bryan Edwards and We Don’t Deserve His Greatness.”