Last year, everything on paper suggested Tennessee Football should have blown out South Carolina, but the Gamecocks went off instead, and new stars were created. There is a similar vibe about what the Vols should do this year. To avoid a repeat, these are the five South Carolina players they have to watch out for Saturday.
5. Debo Williams, LB
Not much has been good about South Carolina’s pass defense, but they have a solid run defense, and Debo Williams has helped with that as a weakside linebacker. He leads the team in tackles on the year with 31 and solo tackles with 20 and has three and a half tackles for a loss, and UT’s protection has been an issue, which we’ll dive into, so watch out for him.
4. Trey Knox, TE
So far on the year, Trey Knox has just 10 catches for 113 yards and a touchdown, but last week, he had four catches for 53 yards and a score. Even Shane Beamer and Dowell Loggains should be smart enough to know to use him more based on last week and the issues in the Vols’ secondary. Add in the fact that Knox is from Murfreesboro, and you know they’ll use him, so Josh Heupel and Tim Banks must prepare.
3. Alex Huntley, DT
T.J. Sanders leads the team in sacks and has had one each of the past three games, but Beamer isn’t starting him. Tonka Hemingway was the All-SEC lineman to start the year, but he hasn’t been as productive. Alex Huntley, however, has two sacks and is getting better in the middle. Tennessee Football has been atrocious on the interior line, so this matchup with him is going to be huge.
2. Xavier Legette, WR
Antwane Wells Jr., who torched the Vols, is out. However, Xavier Legette is a new breakout star. He’s got 27 catches for 556 yards and three touchdowns on the year. Ahmarean Brown, who also torched UT last year, is in the starting lineup, Legette is obviously the guy Banks and Willie Martinez have to zone in on if they want to win this game.
1. Spencer Rattler, QB
By far the SEC’s best quarterback, Spencer Rattler would be a Heisman candidate if he had any help whatsoever. He destroyed Tennessee Football last year, and he’s more than capable of destroying them this year. The Vols have to make sure they get to him and apply a ton of pressure. Otherwise, given their secondary, this will be a long game.