Position grades from Tennessee vs. South Carolina

Butch Jones and the Tennessee Volunteers lost to South Carolina coming off a bye week for the second year in a row. Here are the position grades from the Vols 15-9 loss on Saturday.

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Will Muschamp and the South Carolina Gamecocks (5-2, 3-2 SEC) beat the Tennessee Volunteers (3-3, 0-3 SEC) in Neyland Stadium 15-9 on Saturday. With the win, Muschamp extended his undefeated streak against Jones, and marked his second straight victory over the Vols.

These are the position grades from Tennessee’s loss to the Gamecocks last week.

Quarterback: C

For his first career start coming against a strong SEC defense, Jarrett Guarantano had a pretty solid game. While he had just 133 yards on 11-of-18 throwing, Guarantano was able to pose a threat on the ground as well. His accuracy could use some improvement, but some of his inconsistency was a result of the offensive scheming from the Vols. Guarantano received solid protection from the offensive line, but he often held on to the ball too long.

Running Back: B-

Tennessee rushed for just 120 yards on nearly 40 carries on Saturday, but the blame in no way falls on the running backs. The Volunteers offensive line was facing a dominant front seven for the second straight game, and it clearly showed. John Kelly has logged just 102 rushing yards in the past two games due to poor offensive line play. Ty Chandler managed to break off a 30-yard carry to help pad the rushing stats.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: C-

Although it was one of Tennessee’s most consistent pass catching games, only eight catches were made by receivers. Marquez Callaway caught four passes for the first time since the Georgia Tech game, three of which came on the Vols last drive. Brandon Johnson remained one of Tennessee’s most targeted receivers, as he finished with 54 yards on three receptions.

Offensive Line: D

This might be a generous grade for the play of the Tennessee offensive line against South Carolina. Understandably, the Vols offensive line was facing yet another talented front seven for the second straight week, but the lack of efficiency on offense fell on them. Kelly and the Tennessee running game was silenced due to the poor play of the offensive line. Not to mention, they gave up seven sacks to the Gamecocks.

Defensive Line: D

After showing improvement by creating pressure on the quarterback against UMass, the Tennessee defensive line struggled for the second straight week. The Volunteers defensive line logged just one sack against the Gamecocks. Depth has been a huge problem for Tennessee recently, especially with the indefinite suspension of defensive end Darrell Taylor. However, it doesn’t excuse the poor defensive line play on Saturday.

Linebackers: C

The Tennessee linebackers played a huge part in the 194 yards that South Carolina had last week, but they weren’t getting much help from their defensive line. Quart’e Sapp once again showed flashes of greatness, as he tallied seven tackles and two tackles-for-loss. In fact, it’s surprising that the Vols didn’t get gashed for more yards than they did on the ground. Overall, it wasn’t a great performance for the Tennessee linebackers, but it was solid.

Secondary: B

One of the best games of the season for the Vols’ secondary came against the Gamecocks last weekend. Rashaan Gaulden once again cemented himself as the best defensive player on the team with 10 tackles and a tackle-for-loss. Nigel Warrior and Shaq Wiggins also combined for 13 tackles on Saturday, as Tennessee held South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley to just 129 yards passing.

Special Teams: B+

Kicker Brent Cimaglia helped his case to be the starter going forward after going 3-of-3 on his field goal attempts, with a long of 33. Punter Trevor Daniel was excellent as usual with 314 yards punting and a long of 72-yards. The Volunteers returners didn’t see much action, as Callaway and Chandler both returned just one punt-and-kick a piece.

Feature image courtesy of UT Sports

Edited by Ben McKee

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