This was such a team win for Tennessee Football that it was hard to point to just five individual standout players. However, stat lines and what we saw on screen made it pretty obvious who stood out the most. The Vols won with defense and running, and that will show here. These are the five best performers in UT’s 41-20 win vs. the South Carolina Gamecocks.
5. Wesley Walker
Coverage in general was incredible for Tennessee Football. Part of that was Aaron Beasley and Elijah Herring always in the right spots on trick plays, and Beasley did have a tackle for a loss. The other part was open-field tackles. Nobody did that better than Wesley Walker, who had five solo tackles and a pass deflection on the night. As a result, he gets the shoutout.
4. Squirrel White
Despite an inconsistent night from Joe Milton III, Squirrel White still had nine catches for 104 yards. He had a key 50-yard grab that changed the game in the second quarter in which he was interfered with and the ball was underthrown. With an injury to Bru McCoy, there was even more pressure on him, but he was still able to deliver.
3. Jaylen Wright
You could really call it the Cooper Mays show, as with his return, Tennessee Football had 40 carries for 238 yards, but Jaylen Wright was the star. Wright carried the ball 16 times for 123 yards and a touchdown. Dylan Sampson did have nine carries for 49 yards, and Jabari Small had 11 carries for 59 yards. All three had scores, but Small had a fumble, and Wright was the star.
2. Kamal Hadden
After getting torched last year, Kamal Hadden did a 180 in this game and played a huge role in holding Spencer Rattler to going 24-of-35 for 169 yards and 0 touchdowns. Most importantly, Hadden had a pick-six at the end of the second quarter to put the Vols up by two scores going into halftime, which was huge for Josh Heupel’s team.
1. James Pearce Jr.
While the coverage was the best part of the defense for Tennessee Football, the pass rush was still elite, coming away with six sacks. James Pearce Jr. was the star, as he had two sacks on the night and consistently applied pressure. After two weeks of minimal impact, Pearce finally returned to looking like the player he was at the start of the year.