D.J. Wonnum is a Comeback Player of the Year candidate after picking up 4.5 sacks through the first seven games. (Travis Bell/SIDELINE CAROLINA)

The Gamecocks are preparing for a trip to Knoxville to square off with a Volunteers team that has shown marked improvement over the last two weeks. Tennessee opened the season with an embarrassing loss to Georgia State and looked anemic offensively in a 34-3 loss at Florida Sept. 21st. But head coach Jeremy Pruitt made some personnel changes and the Volunteers found a way to claw their way to a 20-10 victory over SEC West foe Mississippi State before last week’s hard-fought loss to rival Alabama. Among the changes was more playing time for freshman quarterback Brian Maurer, but Maurer has suffered a pair of concussions and his availability for this week’s game is doubtful. The South Carolina defense may not know until Saturday whether they are facing Maurer, embattled veteran Jarrett Guarantano or freshman J.T. Shrout.

But to hear Gamecocks defenders tell it, they’ll be ready for whatever, and whomever, Tennessee throws at them. BUCK linebacker D.J. Wonnum said, “It (preparing for multiple quarterbacks) has its pros and cons, but come game day, we’ll be ready for whichever one plays.”

Cornerback Israel Mukuamu echoed those sentiments, “All of them are pretty good. We don’t know which one we’re going to get this week, so we’ve got to be prepared for all of them. We’ll be ready. Whichever one plays, we’ll have a game plan.”

Whatever direction Pruitt decides to go, the expectation is set for another close contest. Will Muschamp has won in all three tries against the Volunteers since taking over in Columbia, but the three games have been decided by a total of 12 points. The last seven games in the series have an average score of 27.3-26.3 in favor of the Gamecocks. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. in Knoxville, Saturday. South Carolina is a 4-point favorite.

Buck Linebacker D.J. Wonnum

Wide Receiver Bryan Edwards

Offensive Tackle Sadarius Hutcherson

Cornerback Israel Mukuamu