The Daily Gamecock

Behind Enemy Lines: 5 questions with Daily Beacon sports editor Troy Provost-Heron

1. If Justin Worley can't go Saturday due to his shoulder injury, how prepared do you think Josh Dobbs is to step in?

I just want to start off by saying that I'd be shocked if Justin Worley took to the field. Two times this week, the coaches have stated that he wouldn't be able to go if the game were to be played on that day, which does not bode well for his chances. With that said, Josh Dobbs is fully capable of stepping into the starting quarterback role. He had a terrific game — 19-for-32 passing with 192 yards and two touchdowns — after coming in for Nathan Peterman against Alabama last week and showed a different dynamic than he did last year because of the coaching staff allowing him to run the football, which is one of his strengths.

2. It's pretty widely accepted that Tennessee is an improved team from last year, but it still has yet to win an SEC game. How far off do you think the Vols are from contending in the East?

Tennessee is probably a year or two away from being a legitimate contender in the SEC East. Not only have they looked better in each of Butch Jones' two years, but when you look around the Eastern division you can see the change happening. Florida is currently on a downslide, Georgia — while still good — haven't been the same dominating Bulldogs and South Carolina is in the midst of a down year. The overall competition in the SEC East, along with UT's improvement, makes the Volunteers' future in the division a bright one.

3. South Carolina kept themselves out of the SEC title game last year with an upset loss to Tennessee at Neyland Stadium. How much confidence do you think that gives the Volunteers in this year's meeting?

It gives them a tremendous amount of confidence, just because that's the game that showed them they could compete and win. For years, Tennessee has had a bunch of close games and fallen short in just about every one of them. But to get that win last year was huge for this program, and coming into this game, it gives them a bar to strive for against a Gamecock team that isn't as strong as it has been in past years.

4. Tennessee has four games left, all in the SEC, to win three more games and gain bowl eligibility. Do you think it happens?

If you told me this was the scenario before the season, I would've told you yes. But with Kentucky being much improved, that possibly gets muddled a bit. The Vols get the benefit of playing Missouri at home, which helps their chances, but with the exception of Vanderbilt, the rest of the games on their schedule are toss-ups at best. But if I'm being put on the spot, I'll (non-confidently) say they finish with six victories and make it to a bowl game.

5. Who are some lesser-known Volunteers that South Carolina fans should be on the lookout for Saturday?

On the defensive end, the one unknown guy to watch is freshman defensive end Derek Barnett. The kid has been a beast throughout the season and has wrecked havoc on opposing offenses all year. To put his year into perspective, during his freshman year at USC, Jadeveon Clowney recorded 36 tackles — 12 for loss — and eight sacks. Eight games into his career, Barnett has amassed 44 tackles, 11 of which are for a loss, and four sacks. In other words, he's good. On offense, there are a hoard of new faces, so you'll want to be on the look out for a lot of guys, but one guy in particular is running back Jalen Hurd. The freshman, who was a five-star recruit coming out of high school, has quickly become the Vols' biggest offensive threat, rushing for 473 yards in eight games — four of which he didn't start.


Tennessee wins, 20-17. Josh Dobbs under center provides a spark for the offense with his mobility. That, coupled with the fact that the defense will be hungry to make up for its worst performance of the year against Alabama, makes me lean a little toward the Vols in this contest.