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Will South Carolina pre-game talk affect Vols before Tennessee hosts the Gamecocks?

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It seems as if South Carolina coach Shane Beamer is carrying on an old Gamecock tradition, poor-mouthing. Time will tell if his recent comments will affect Tennessee’s performance on Saturday when the Vols host their SEC East foe. However, Beamer already deserves credit for trying.

Just minutes after South Carolina held on to beat Mississippi State 37-30 in front of a stadium full of rabid fans in Columbia, Beamer had this to say, unprompted, about Tennessee and its head coach, Josh Heupel:

I am sure Coach Heupel, they played earlier today, I am sure he is sitting at home watching this game on television and looking forward to next week based on the way we played pass defense tonight. We have to play a lot better.”

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The Gamecocks gave up 487 yards passing against Mississippi State. That’s about status quo. South Carolina is last in the SEC in passing yards allowed, yielding 317 yards per game. No other team in the SEC has allowed more than 280 yards per game. So South Carolina isn’t just bad at defending the pass. They’re really bad.

The Vols aren’t nearly as prepared to attack such a paltry pass defense as they were last season when Tennessee had one of the best passing attacks in recent memory. The Vols are throwing for 234 yards per game which is 12th best in the SEC.

The Beamer comment was reminiscent of former South Carolina coach Lou Holtz, who was known for talking his team down and the opposition up to try to gain some sort of sneak-up-on-you advantage. Holtz was the head coach at South Carolina from 1999 to 2004

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As for Heupel’s coach speak, he overwhelmingly dismissed Beamer’s comments by reminding the media that he also had a game to play on Saturday, win 45-14 win over UTSA, and there was recruiting to focus on later that day. Surely, Heupel heard the comments. However, he didn’t seem to think they carried much weight during his press conference on Monday.

If Beamer thinks he can sneak up on the Vols after what happened in Columbia last season, he’s about as sharp as the footballs that have been sailing over his defensive backs heads this season. The Vols lost any chance at a championship when they fell flat against the Gamecocks last season, losing 63-38 in embarrassing fashion.

The South Carolina game last season was incredibly bad for a number of reasons for the Vols, even before the game was played. Former UT linebacker Jeremy Banks was at the center of a locker room issue that seem to derail any chances the Vols had to even compete in the game. Then, during the game, former Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker was lost for the season with a knee injury. 

There is no way Tennessee’s current players are going to overlook the South Carolina game this season – no matter how much Beamer tries to win the Vols over with pre-game praise. Even Holtz couldn’t poor mouth the Gamecocks enough to be tabbed as anything but a double-digit underdog.

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