Vols show potential vs. South Carolina but flaws still to be corrected

Tennessee football showed signs of promise, but has a way to go to be great.

It wasn’t pretty, but there were plenty of positives from Tennessee football’s Week 4 win.

The Tennessee Volunteers went into Williams-Brice Stadium and came out with a W over the South Carolina Gamecocks. Though it was closer than many in Rocky Top probably expected, the Vols defeated Will Muschamp‘s team in the place by the score of 31-27. While both teams had their moments, Tennessee continues to show us the program is trending up under Jeremy Pruitt.

Tennessee has shown us it can beat the teams it should beat regularly.

There was a lot at stake in this ball game. For Tennessee, falling on the road to the Gamecocks could have been ominous for potentially a rough season ahead. For South Carolina, a home loss would signify more of the same perpetual frustrations under the Muschamp regime. These teams were evenly-matched, but Tennessee winning the turnover battle 2-0 won the Vols the game.

On the positive side of things for Tennessee, quarterback Jarrett Guarantano played with poise and wasn’t inherently reckless as he tends to be when his team is up against it. He completed 19-of-31 passes for 259 yards and a 32-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Josh Palmer. Along with running back Ty Chandler, Palmer helped give Guarantano the balance he needed on offense.

If we want to nitpick issues with Tennessee in this game, let’s look at third down inefficiencies and time of possession. The Vols were an awful 1-for-11 on third down, while South Carolina was a respectable 6-of-15. Though the Vols won with 25 minutes and 10 seconds of possession, South Carolina stayed in the game because it had the ball for 34 minutes and 50 seconds.

Again, these only tertiary problems to be concerned with, but they do need to be corrected when they play top-half SEC East teams. Will this cut it against Kentucky? How about Georgia? What do you think about Florida? And we’re not even thinking about Alabama just yet. Those are arguably Tennessee’s four toughest opponents for the 2020 season, and they need to beat one of them.

Even if Tennessee’s best win this year is over division rival Kentucky or over the Texas A&M Aggies who looked like crap vs. the Vols’ in-state rival Vanderbilt, you can just sense things are moving in the right direction under Pruitt. This team is disciplined and not a chaotic mess of bumbling cliches like they were under former head coach Butch Jones. The Vols can build forward with Pruitt.

Tennessee is not quite there as a program, but the Vols are laying the foundation to be something.

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