KNOXVILLE — Tennessee’s open date came at the perfect time to try and pick up the pieces.

And there were a lot of them.

There was a 41-0 home loss to SEC East rival Georgia, the program’s first shutout loss since 1994. There was a disappointing four-point win against UMass and a last-play defeat at Florida.

There has been turmoil inside the team, too.

One would think that it can only get better.

But then there is this reminder: Butch Jones is 0-3 against Will Muschamp … and guess who coaches the Vols next opponent? Will Muschamp and South Carolina.

The two squared off initially in 2013 with Muschamp’s Gators winning 31-17 behind a backup quarterback.

The next year, Jones took a 9-0 lead into the fourth quarter and was erased by Muschamp’s decision to replace Jeff Driskel with backup quarterback Treon Harris.

The result was enough to keep Jones’ defense off guard and the Gators scored 10 unanswered points, winning 10-9 in front of the first Checker Neyland crowd.

Muschamp was fired soon after but returned as a head coach at South Carolina.

It did not take long for him to continue his winning ways over Jones and Tennessee.

With the SEC East on the line in late October last season, Tennessee traveled to South Carolina and the Gamecocks stunned the No. 18 Vols 24-21. That result gave the SEC East division right back in the Gators’ hands. Muschamp was victorious behind true freshman quarterback Jake Bentley in his second career start.

It has now been three consecutive losses for Jones against Muschamp and now the fourth matchup looms as the biggest one.

Jones’ job is at stake. He cannot afford to lose Saturday. Or his next chance against Muschamp likely will come at somewhere other than Tennessee.