Although Tennessee has the week off, the Vols still found a way to stay in the headlines.
The hero of the Georgia Tech game, defensive end Darrell Taylor, found himself in a scuffle with stud freshman offensive lineman Trey Smith in practice on Thursday.
Source: UT DE Darrell Taylor kicked OL Trey Smith's face at
practice during 1 minute drill Thursday, leading to Smith needing stitches.
— Jimmy Hyams (@JimmyHyams) October 6, 2017
This may be normal news at any other program, but considering the current state of the Vols, it is quite concerning. With the past three weeks being disastrous, tensions are rising in Knoxville and order is being lost.
Or is it?
Are the players motivated by the humiliating loss last week? Perhaps the Volunteers are ready to kick it into gear and defend their home turf with passion when South Carolina makes an appearance in Neyland Stadium next Saturday.
This would certainly be the hopes of Vol nation after suffering a 41-0 pounding from the Georgia Bulldogs last weekend at home.
Eyes on the Gamecocks
Next Saturday’s match up with Will Muschamp’s Gamecocks is crucial for both teams. Tennessee and South Carolina have had similar seasons as each team is 3-2.
Since it is becoming unlikely that either team can come out of the SEC East as champions, this game is about pride. As if Head Coach Butch Jones did not already need to win against Florida and Georgia, it is imperative for him to secure a win over Muschamp. Not only to help preserve his job, but for his locker room.
There is nothing a gritty South Carolina team would love to do more than trot into Neyland Stadium next Saturday and totally crush the will of the Tennessee Volunteers and add more misery to their spiraling season.
Keys to the game
Tennessee must play like there is nothing to lose. There are many reasons this game could go south on the Vols. Taylor being suspended the first half for fighting in the Georgia game, combined with the injuries to star players the team has dealt with, are just a few of the pending concerns.
However, The Big Orange must tune out all outside noise, whether it be about coach Jones, who the quarterback will be, injury concerns and any other distractions that continue to mount. Playing lights-out, winning football at home will be necessary to secure a win.
Tennessee must find a spark on offense. Whoever is at quarterback needs to seize this team and move the ball down the field efficiently. The Vols cannot afford to get behind early in this game, much less put up another goose egg in Neyland.
Things are either going to look up or continue to crumble for the Volunteers from here on out.
Kickoff in Knoxville next Saturday is set for Noon ET.
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