Tennessee football: Five takeaways from Vols’ 45-20 win vs. South Carolina

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Tennessee wide receivers Jalin Hyatt (11) and JaVonta Payton (3) celebrate Hyatt’s touchdown during the NCAA college football game between the Tennessee Volunteers and the South Carolina Gamecocks in Knoxville, Tenn. on Saturday, October 9, 2021.
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For the second straight week, Tennessee football dominated an SEC East opponent. Wearing all black uniforms and in a game that honored Al Wilson, the Vols beat the South Carolina Gamecocks 45-20 one week after beating the Missouri Tigers 62-24. It was a battle of first-year head coaches in the SEC in Josh Heupel and Shane Beamer.

Rocky Top jumped out to a 35-0 lead in the first half, scoring a touchdown on its first four offensive possessions, and it went into halftime up 38-7. In the second half, South Carolina mounted a comeback, but the Vols put the game away in the fourth quarter.

With the win, UT improves to 4-2 on the year and 2-1 in the SEC. They will face the Ole Miss Rebels next.  South Carolina, meanwhile, falls to 3-3 and 0-3 in the SEC with a home game against the Vanderbilt Commodores up next. Here are five things we learned from Tennessee football’s second straight blowout victory.

5. Penalties continue to become an advantage.

It’s crazy to think about given what happened earlier in the year, but the Vols have been very good at avoiding penalties. In this game, they only had two penalties for 30 yards, while South Carolina had five penalties for 35 yards.

Early in the season, Rocky Top had major issues with flags. They committed double-digit penalties in both their losses, to the Pittsburgh Panthers and Florida Gators respectively, and they weren’t great against the Bowling Green Falcons. That’s a big reason that game looked ugly, and given how Josh Heupel’s offense works, penalties can be a concern.

However, Tennessee football has committed three or fewer penalties in three of their past four games, and they have only committed two penalties in each of their last two games. Avoiding such issues is what can make Heupel’s offense deadly, and that’s a huge benefit for the Vols going forward, so it’s something to be proud of.

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