Tennessee once again flirted with landing their first SEC win. The Vols have had the lead or has been tied in every game but one this season. But as they have showed in the second half in most games this year, the Vols again simply couldn't play with the poise needed in the second half. So why are the Vols heading into November without an SEC Win for the first time since 1988, Here's the latest in what we call 5 reasons why.
1. Turnovers - It's no secret that the Vols margin for error is extremely small. There's no way that the Vols can overcome a day full of possession mistakes. Tennessee turned it over 4 times and three of those were turned into touchdowns by the Gamecocks. The Vols gave South Carolina two easy third quarter scores including the pick six on the Tyler Bray interception and the Vols lost at least three point if not six in the second quarter on Matt Simms' first of two fumbles on the day. If Tennessee's going to win games in November then they must avoid turning it over.
2. Halftime - Tennessee should petition to no longer have a stoppage of play after two quarters because the the rest and opportunity for adjustments is killing the Vols. Tennessee has either been in the lead for tied for the lead at the half in every game but the Georgia game this season. But as was the case in most games this season, the quarter didn't go well. The last three games, the Vols have been outscored 49-14 and Tenessee came out to start the half at South Carolina barring gifts in the form of a fumble and the interception. Give the Vols credit for battling back, but they must avoid putting themselves in a hole they can't dig out of the last month of the season.
3. Marcus Lattimore - Lattimore had 29 carries for 184 yards and was getting stronger all day long. On Lattimore's final 6 carries, Lattimore rushed for 73 yards. The Vols had trouble tackling Lattimore and the freshman lived up to his billing all day. Lattimore was just better than the Vols and he tried to make them like it as Spurrier certainly fed his big tailback.
4. 4th quarter chunk plays - There Tennessee sat with the game tied and a 2nd and 8 at the Gamecock thirdy. It it was once again a chance to seize control of things. And during stretches of the day Justin Wilcox's did a great job of limiting the South Carolina big plays. Carolina had 6 plays of 20 yards or more including two in the fourth quarter. It was those two plays that made the different. The two plays combined for 110 yards of offense and put the game out of reach when they hit Alshon Jeffery for the 70 yard touchdown play.
5. Pass protections - A week ago the young offensive line played fast and hard. At South Carolina, there was real concern about trying to mentally manage the different looks that South Carolina showed. Saturday is wasn't just a mental challenge. It was a physical challenge as well. Tennessee struggled at the offensive tackle possession in trying to contain South Carolina's defensive ends. South Carolina finished the day with 6 sacks and a handful of quarterback hurries. Last week with Alabama, it was simply they lined up and you lined up and both sides knew a run was coming I. It's alot harder to be a producer and to not be in the way in the booth trying t produce.