Matchup Breakdown: Cameron Sutton looks to bounce back facing South Carolina's Pharoh Cooper
It was a game Tennessee cornerback Cameron Sutton would like to forget.
Facing the SEC’s top wide receiver, Alabama’s Amari Cooper, the sophomore allowed 224 yards and two touchdowns on nine receptions during the Vols’ 34-20 loss last Saturday. Both scores came in the first quarter on big plays, the first on an 80-yard reception on the Tide’s opening drive and the second on a 41-yard catch during the ensuing possession.
The game was a blemish on an otherwise stellar season for Sutton. The sophomore leads Tennessee with three interceptions, all while assuming the role of lockdown cornerback in an improved defensive unit. Sutton has seen favorable results in head-to-head matchups with just about every wide receiver he’s faced this season, holding all but two opponents to under 100 yards in eight games.
But with a disappointing performance against Alabama still fresh in fans’ minds, Sutton will need a bounce back performance against South Carolina on Saturday. He will have his hands full facing another talented Cooper, the Gamecocks’ Pharoh Cooper.
In recent weeks, South Carolina’s sophomore wideout has gone from a “do everything” x-factor type player to the Gamecocks’ best receiver. The 5-foot-11, 201-pound speedster possesses the breakaway speed to excel at several positions, but has made strides to becoming an elite SEC pass catcher. Cooper recorded a career-best 127 yards and two touchdowns on seven catches in South Carolina’s 42-35 loss to No. 4 Auburn last weekend.
The Gamecocks passing offense has looked strong in quarterback Dylan Thompson’s senior season, with Cooper recording a team-best 553 receiving yards and six touchdowns on 40 receptions. South Carolina will look to continue its success through the air and test the reigning SEC All-Freshman cornerback.
Sutton, whose started every game at cornerback since enrolling at Tennessee, will have another opportunity to prove he’s an elite SEC defensive back facing a tough road matchup. The sophomore should see a bounce back performance against South Carolina and reclaim his place among the conference’s top pass defenders.