Tennessee football: Five Vols to watch for at South Carolina

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Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

These Tennessee football Volunteers will be key against the Gamecocks.

Last year, Tennessee football beat the South Carolina Gamecocks by relying heavily on a bunch of big plays from five specific guys. Those were the five guys who are gone now and have inked spots on NFL rosters.

Jauan Jennings had two receiving touchdowns, Marquez Callaway had a receiving and a punt return touchdown, and Daniel Bituli had a blocked punt that he returned for a touchdown. Those were all five touchdowns in the game as UT won 41-21.

Beyond that, though, Darrell Taylor came away with two sacks, and Nigel Warrior had 10 tackles, six of which were solo, and a tackle for a loss. Simply put, last year’s senior leaders had everything to do with this win.

Thank to their play, Tennessee football got its first win ever against Will Muschamp as a head coach and finally got the momentum it needed. That was the first of six straight wins to close out the season for the Vols, who went from 2-5 to 8-5.

Well, with Jennings, Callaway, Bituli, Taylor and Warrior gone, the Vols already needed to find new key guys for this year. They also need to find new key guys for this specific game, though, as it rings truer than ever when playing USC.

As we get set to break down the most important Vols in this game, all of what we’ve just discussed proves that South Carolina is a great first test to see which players will begin to emerge. Even as a game in the middle of the season, this has always been one where the most important players on the team thrive.

That dates back to 1929, when Gene McEver set a school record that still stands with five rushing touchdowns. Tee Martin continued that trend in 1998 with a then-NCAA record of 23 straight completions. Can somebody carry that torch this year?

Taking into account South Carolina’s situation, let’s break that down. Here’s a look at who can exploit the Gamecocks’ biggest weakness to give Tennessee football a season-opening win. These are the five key Vols to watch for this Saturday.

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