Three Bold Predictions For Tennessee's Season-Opener Against South Carolina

Matthew Ray

As Tennessee heads to South Carolina on Saturday night to open up the 2020 season at 7:30 ET on the SEC network, there are several unknowns heading into this contest and the 2020 season overall, and there is plenty of time between now and kick-off for some bold predictions.

Ty Chandler gets more touches than Eric Gray

Jim Chaney has said that he plans to use the two backs a lot, with both being on the field at the same time. Gray is coming off of a late-season surge to end his freshman campaign, which resulted in him quickly being a fan favorite. He will be a focal point of the offense, but our first bold prediction is that Chandler gets more touches than he does on Saturday night. Chandler has had a solid fall camp, and he is a valuable weapon out of the backfield. Look for Tennessee to involve him in the passing game and attempt to get him out in space early.

The secondary looks different to start the game than the two-deep depth chart suggests

Alontae Taylor (Cornerback), Bryce Thompson (Cornerback), Trevon Flowers (Safety), Jaylen McCollough (Safety), and Shawn Shamburger (Star) were listed as the starters on Tennessee’s unofficial depth chart. Our bold prediction here is that two of the five do not get the "start" at their slated position on Saturday night. That may mean one is on the field at another position, while one is not on the field at all, regardless of how it works out, we think the Vols could get creative early in this contest.

Jalin Hyatt Scores First Career Touchdown in Homecoming Game

Jeremy Pruitt has repeatedly said that we may not see a lot of action from Freshmen in the Vols’ first game of 2020. But we believe there’s at least one stark exception to that, and his name is Jalin Hyatt. Hyatt will be a valuable piece for Tennessee’s offense in the slot, and coaches and players alike have already raved about the freshman’s ability. Last time Hyatt was in Williams-Brice Stadium, he scored the winning touchdown to clinch a state championship for Dutch Fork, whose campus is just under 20 miles from the Gamecocks’ home turf. Tennessee will be trying to spread things across the field to take advantage of the Gamecocks’ relatively unproven secondary. If things get crowded with Brandon Johnson and Josh Palmer on the outside, and especially if Jarrett Guarantano starts off with easier dump-off passes to increase his confidence, then Hyatt could see some targets and, yes, even a score. Call it a big homecoming for Hyatt, as he will continue a strong trend in Williams-Brice Stadium for the first touchdown of his college career.

Feel free to share your bold predictions for the Vols with us in the comments below or on any of the social media posts!

(VR2 on SI's Matt Ray and Jake Nichols contributed to this article)

Photo Credit to Tennessee Athletics Communication

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