Saturday is yet another game in the Vols’ gauntlet of a schedule, taking on a ranked team for the fourth time in five games.
“That is the big thing, containing their entire offense,” said Jones. “We can’t give up big plays, whether it is running the football or deep touchdown passes or big splash plays. It is really the same formula every game. In the SEC we play explosive offenses and defenses every week and very talented football teams. I think seven ranked football teams that we will play.”
Worley gaining confidence
Against Georgia, Justin Worley led the Vols on a second-half comeback, turning a 17-3 halftime deficit into a 31-24 lead with less than two minutes to play in the fourth quarter.
Worley was poised in the pocket, a leader on offense, and connected with his wide receivers on multiple pressure-packed situations.
“It helps a lot knowing that I can put together a performance like that against a quality team,” said Worley. “It helps my confidence a lot.”
Though Worley didn’t believe the second half against Georgia was his best ever half of football, Ja’Wuan James believes that his performance has made him more self-assured in practice.
“It has carried over to practice,” said James. “I feel like he was hot in that game, he built some confidence in himself. He has taken that out to practice; you can see him making some throws at practice and things like that.”
Worley is just appreciative of the fan support after both his, and the team’s performance against the No. 6 ranked Bulldogs.
“It has been all out support for us,” said Worley. “That is great to see. We really opened up a lot of people’s eyes from our performance in the Georgia game and a lot of people have jumped on board. A lot of the naysayers have converted back to hardcore fans that we love and appreciate.”
Neal feeling fresh and ready
All season long Team 117 has praised the strength and conditioning staff on preparing the team week-in and week-out and with Tennessee having a bye week this past week, it was no different.
Players still reported to treatments as normal and Rajion Neal is one Volunteer that realizes how important it was to do so.
“They did a great job of taking care of us and making us come in and focus on treatment,” said Neal. “Just taking care of the body with the little time we had off.”
“The body’s not aching and I’m still moving at a pretty good pace to get through practice and ready to roll on to the game,” Neal said.
After toting the ball 53 times in the last two games, Neal believes the bye week could not have come at a better time, not only for him but other players as well and now it is time to refocus into game mode.
The Volunteers will welcome back wide receiver Devrin Young, who Neal knows will play a big role against the Gamecocks.
“He’s another fresh body, another speed guy, a great guy on special teams as far as returner, punt and kick returns,” said Neal.
The Vols have a sense of determination for a win against a ranked team like South Carolina, so Saturday in Neyland Stadium will be no different.
“Definitely, there’s nothing that’s given, especially wins, in this conference. We definitely have to learn and pay attention and get around guys that know how to win,” said Neal.
Tiny vs. Clowney
Last October, Antonio Richardson got the best of Jadeveon Clowney for 75 plays. Clowney bested Richardson with a head fake that resulted in a game-changing sack.
Something Richardson hasn’t forgotten and has rewatched at least once a week.
In July, at SEC media days, Clowney spoke of Richardson’s `holding abilities’.
Richardson responded the following day saying the best offensive linemen can hold and get away with it.
The duo will finally see its rematch on Saturday at Neyland Stadium.
Richardson’s linemates know he is a high energy player, and they expect him to go out and give it his all.
Just like any other week.
“He’s his regular self now and taking it like any other game,” said Zach Fulton. “But I know inside he’s excited to play.”
“We talk to him saying that every game is important from the start of the season,” continued right tackle Ja’Wuan James. “You can’t worry about it. He has done a great job of just focusing on this opponent. I know that he was excited for this game but he hasn’t done anything different this week.”
James on the right side also has the ability to defend against Clowney, though he didn’t have the opportunity last season.
Justin Worley feels blessed to have both of the strong tackles at his disposal.
“[Tiny] wants to go out and perform each and every week to the best of his ability,” said Worley. “Going up against the potentially number one NFL draft pick, you always amp up the stage for him, any tackle that is going to face him. I know Tiny is ready to play and if Ja’Wuan has to block him as well, he is ready to play as well.”
Head Coach Butch Jones agrees and knows the entire offensive line needs to be ready, not just for No. 7, but for the entire South Carolina defense.
“Everyone wants to make a big deal about Tiny and Jadeveon, but they do a great job he will be lined up over by Ja’Wuan James as much as Tiny,” said Jones. “It is our entire offensive front, it is not just Jadeveon Clowney. He is a great player but they have great players around him.”