Tennessee football: Five takeaways from Vols’ horrendous 63-38 loss at South Carolina

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No, this score isn’t a Tennessee football win, even though that’s what they usually look like. The Vols’ playoff hopes came crashing down in an embarrassing 63-31 loss to the South Carolina Gamecocks on the road. UT never led and trailed 35-17 at one point in the first half. They cut it to 35-31 in the second half, but it was all South Carolina after that.

Spencer Rattler directed an S.C. offense that was unstoppable. They punted the ball only once. More importantly, though, when trailing 49-31, Hendon Hooker suffered a non-contact leg injury after he slipped on an option run. That play also resulted in a fumble, which South Carolina used to turn it to 56-31.

Joe Milton III played the Vols’ final two drives of the game.. UT, ranked No. 5 across the board, falls to 9-2 and will close out the regular season next week at the Vanderbilt Commodores. South Carolina improves to 7-4 and will visit the Clemson Tigers next week. Here are five things we learned from Tennessee football’s loss.

Nov 19, 2022; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Shane Beamer congratulates his team after a touchdown against the Tennessee Volunteers in the first quarter at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

5. South Carolina’s offensive play-calling caught Vols completely off-guard.

Shane Beamer and Marcus Satterfield pulled a 180 with their game plan. In the process, they torched the Vols through the air, and Rattler returned to looking like the Heisman candidate he once was with the Oklahoma Sooners. He completed 30-of-37 passes for 438 yards and six touchdowns, embarrassing UT’s defense.

While Rattler was great and the Vols’ cornerbacks were awful, a huge part of this was Josh Heupel and Tim Banks never adjusting. There was a drive in which South Carolina ran the exact same underneath route twice and gained about 20 yards on them twice, once converting a 3rd and 20.

We’re going to talk about a lot of other things that went into this game, but the story beyond any story is this. The Vols were absolutely embarrassed through the air. It wasn’t just the schemes and secondary either. UT got no pass rush up front all night, making things even easier for South Carolina. Simply put, Rattler humiliated them.

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