After two games against the ironclad defenses of LSU and Alabama, Tennessee coach Derek Dooley decided to look toward the future. Late in the Bama game Dooley benched senior Matt Simms and burned the redshirt of true freshman Justin Worley in exchange for a series of handoffs.
Many armchair pundits questioned the move afterwards, but some naysayers have reneged since Dooley named Worley as this Saturday’s starter at his weekly press conference.
Time will tell if this is a good move, but one thing is for sure – Justin Worley has his work cut out for him against the South Carolina Gamecocks.
So you thought the Tigers and Tide were good at laying the wood to opposing QB’s? Well, South Carolina is a bit more subtle as they have recorded only 14 sacks this season, but the Gamecocks passing defense is second to none. The USC secondary has snagged 14 interceptions and is giving up less than 5 yards per completion. All total, the Gamecocks are allowing only 134 passing yards per game, the fewest in the nation.
Yes, our true freshman quarterback who has never thrown a pass at the collegiate level will be throwing against the best passing defense in the nation on Saturday night.
But all hope is not lost………
The Tennessee running game has shown signs of improvement over the past two weeks, even as the competition has stiffened considerably. Tauren Poole is finally starting to show signs of toughness that UT fans have looked for all season, and Marlin Lane has shown some inspiration on the ground as well. And even though no one has had much success throwing against South Carolina, their opponents have been moderately successful, at times, at pounding the rock against the USC defensive line. The Gamecocks are giving up 144 yards-per-game on the ground, roughly in line with Tennessee’s own rushing defense.
Steve Spurrier will undoubtedly load the box and dare the Vols to throw the ball. A solid performance from Poole and Lane would counteract that game plan and possibly loosen up the defense enough for Worley to show us what he’s got, but it’s not going to be easy.