Managing editor Nathanael Rutherford and staff writer Ben McKee will “buy or sell” the likelihood of several things happening each week before a Tennessee football game. Here are their takes on the Vols’ match-up with the South Carolina Gamecocks in Knoxville.
Buy or Sell: JT Shrout makes his first career start at QB for the Vols this Saturday.
Nathanael: I’m going to buy this one. I think all the signs are pointing to Shrout starting over Guarantano on Saturday. That doesn’t mean JG won’t play, because I really don’t know what to expect from Shrout out there. I do, however, think Shrout earns the start.
Ben: I don’t feel confident, but I’m going to buy this one. There’s a solid chance Jarrett Guarantano starts against South Carolina, especially after Jeremy Pruitt talked about Guarantano’s solid performance against Alabama during Vol calls. At the end of the day, I still lean towards Shrout starting. It seems as if the coaching staff has lost all confidence in Guarantano behind the scenes, and Shrout was the first quarterback though drills during the open portion of practice this week.
Buy or Sell: Tennessee runs the ball 45 or more times against the Gamecocks.
Nathanael: This is a tough one for me. I think the Vols should probably go with a more run-heavy approach in this game because of their QB situation, but at the same time, South Carolina’s defensive weaknesses are more prominent in the passing game. The Gamecocks have typically won against teams that have tried to run more against them, but it’s the teams who have aired it out more that have found success against their defense.
I’ll sell this, but I do think UT runs it more than they pass it in this game. I’ll say they run the ball between 35-40 times.
Ben: I’ll sell this because I believe South Carolina is going to load up the box and force Tennessee to beat them through the air. The Vols may want to run the ball all game, but I don’t know that the Gamecocks will allow them to. I’m with Nathanael, I believe Tennessee will have close to 40 carries, but they’ll fall just short of 45.
Buy or Sell: There will be fewer than 12 total penalties called in Saturday’s game.
Nathanael: Right now, both teams are averaging right around six penalties called against them a game, so this would be right at the average for both teams. I’ll sell it, though. I know both Pruitt and Muschamp complained a lot about the officiating in their previous games before this weekend’s match-up, but I just don’t have a lot of faith in SEC officials. Plus, with yet another new QB likely running the offense, I think you’ll see some sloppy penalties on offense for Tennessee.
Ben: Yes, I believe there will be a total of at least 12 penalties between the two teams by the time the game ends. 12 really isn’t a lot when you think about it, especially when you consider how both teams were called for penalties last week. With the weather supposedly forecasted to be ugly at times, the game could get sloppy.
Buy or Sell: If Jarrett Guarantano plays, he gets booed enough to where you can hear it on TV.
Nathanael: I really want to sell this because I’d like to think that with as much conversation as there’s been about booing JG that fans wouldn’t do it, but I don’t know. I think he’ll get booed still by some fans, but I do think enough of them will hold off on doing it at this point that you won’t hear it all that much on television. So I’ll sell.
Ben: Unfortunately, I’m buying this. It just is what it is at this point. Tennessee fans are fed up, and though I don’t blame them, booing won’t be a good look to the key recruits that will be in attendance for the game.
Buy or Sell: The winning team in this game will make it to a bowl game in 2019.
Nathanael: I think this is a pretty easy “buy” for me. If South Carolina wins, all they have to do is beat Vanderbilt and Appalachian State to get to a bowl game, which should be plenty doable. For Tennessee, beating the Gamecocks would give them a little leeway and would mean they wouldn’t have to win out to make a bowl, and I think that would play well into their schedule. A win over South Carolina means they don’t have to beat Missouri, and that game still worries me even after the Tigers lost to Vandy. I think the Vols should (and will) win against Kentucky, UAB, and Vanderbilt, so a win against SC would give them six victories.
Ben: Absolutely buying this one. If South Carolina wins, they’ll be at four wins. The Gamecocks would then face Vanderbilt and Appalachian State, and although the Mountaineers are ranked, South Carolina should win both of those games to get them to six wins.
As for Tennessee, I believe the Vols will beat Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and UAB to get them to five wins. All you need at that point is to beat either South Carolina or Missouri. So, yes, I believe either team reaches bowl eligibility if they were to win Saturday’s game.
Buy or Sell: Either Brent Cimaglia or Parker White will have the chance to kick a game-winning field goal in the fourth quarter.
Nathanael: With how close this series has been the last seven years, I feel like I’d be foolish not to buy this. Ben has been a big advocate all season that Cimaglia is going to get Tennessee a win this year, and this could be the exact game where he does. White has kicked a couple game-winners against the Vols in the past, so it also wouldn’t surprise me to see him do it again.
Ben: I don’t believe either will kick a game-winning field goal because I don’t believe the game will end up being THAT close. Brent Cimaglia or Parker White will kick an important field goal in the third quarter or early in the fourth quarter to extend either team’s lead, however.