KNOXVILLE – Two of the Southeastern Conference’s new football coaches will face off during South Carolina’s visit to Tennessee.
Shane Beamer will drive the Gamecocks to Knoxville on Saturday to face Josh Heupel and the Vols in a crucial test for both teams.
The Vols (3-2, 1-1) demonstrated just how explosive Heupel’s offense can be, putting 62 points on the board in a Missouri rout. The Gamecocks (3-2, 0-2) are also coming off a victory, albeit a narrow escape against Troy.
Heupel said the challenge for the Vols will always be how fast they can play and how fast they play.
Tennessee had their best offensive performance since Oct. 8, 2016, scoring 683 total yards in Missouri. The Vols ran 458 yards, the furthest on the road in the school’s history. They hadn’t rushed for that many yards since racking up 513 yards on November 10, 1951 against Washington & Lee.
The projector noticed.
“I don’t know what problems Tennessee had with the previous staff, but recruiting was not one of them,” he said. “Although they have seen some attrition in the transfer portal, they have a lot of great players who are still there.”
Heupel’s plan to bring a quick attack on UT is working. The Vols are averaging 2.89 offensive plays per minute, tied for third in the country and tied for first with Mississippi among the Power Five teams.
Utah State and Marshall (2.93 per minute) lead the overall standings.
Since running for 254 yards in a season opener over Eastern Illinois, the South Carolina offense has generated more than 102 rushing yards in its next four games. The Gamecocks have averaged 88.5 rushing yards during that time.
The Tennessee Run ranks 24th among FBS teams in run defense, with 104 yards per game.
“They’re pretty physical up front and they’re going to take the 11 guys to the ball,” said South Carolina quarterback Luke Doty. “Up front we have to be prepared to throw strikes, not only in the passing game, but also in the running game.
“We have to be able to establish that early, and I think we’re going to be able to do that.”
South Carolina safety Jahmar Brown was the latest in a series of warnings about making sure to cross the goal line before knocking the football down in celebration. He had recovered from a fumble from Troy and was sailing without touching in the end zone when he released the ball around the 1-yard line before entering the end zone.
The touchdown would have allowed the Gamecocks to gain 13 points, but was canceled. Brown has spent the past few days being ridiculed on social media.
ESPN even featured him in their “C’Mon, Man!” segment this week.
“It’s unfortunate that I made this mistake, and it could have cost my team dearly,” said Brown. “I felt terrible about it. But at this point, I have nothing else to do but move forward.
Beamer has fond memories of Tennessee, many of them since he graduated from school. He was a graduate assistant to Philip Fulmer from 2001 to 2003 and graduated in sports management.
Beamer has worked so far – Gamecocks offensive line coach Greg Adkins took lessons with South Carolina offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield and forged a relationship that spanned more than two decades .
“I had a great time, made a lot of friends,” Beamer said. “They are successful coaches and people, and I try to do my part not to bring them down.”
Tennessee is breaking up take out special uniforms for this game.
The Vols will wear black jerseys for the first time since Halloween 2009, also against South Carolina. Instead of the orange pants worn that day, they will be wearing black pants for the first time in the history of the program.