Kentucky Versus South Carolina Preview and Predictions
In the long history of Kentucky football only once have they defeated an SEC team other than Vanderbilt four straight years. During the glory days under Coach Bear Bryant the Cats defeated Florida from 1948-1951. On Saturday Mark Stoops‘ club tries to accomplish this feat when they travel to Columbia. Let’s take an in depth look at the game with the Kentucky Versus South Carolina Preview and Predictions.
Kentucky at South Carolina- (7:30 SEC Network)
Still Finding Their Footing On Offense
Through two games the Wildcat offense, which was supposed to be a strength, has been struggling. In the season opener against Southern Mississippi the Cats only mustered 254 total yards and 17 points.
Last week against FCS opponent Eastern Kentucky offensive coordinator Eddie Gran’s group again had difficulties moving the ball. Injuries on the offensive line and Gran’s insistence on running a seemingly ineffective version of the Wildcat had Kentucky down by as many as ten points.
This is the exact moment I tried to jump headfirst out of the press box during the first half of Saturday's game. https://t.co/3Q8VoSAnzm
— Drew Franklin (@DrewFranklinKSR) September 12, 2017
As you can see from the picture above Kentucky on a fourth and one ran the Wildcat with ten Colonels crowding the line of scrimmage. If you are wondering no this play did not work.
However the second half was a different story as Kentucky rallied for a 27-16 victory. After a planned benching by the coaching staff to play Drew Barker, Stephen Johnson returned to the game and led the charge. Johnson finished 15 of 22 passing for 224 yards and a touchdown. In addition he rushed six times for 48 yards and one score. The victory raised his record to 9-3 as starting quarterback for Kentucky.
The Cats also got a strong performance from Benjamin Snell Jr. Fighting through injured ribs Snell ran 19 times for 103 yards and a touchdown. After practice on Tuesday Snell says he is “100 percent for Saturday.”
As for the Wildcat, Gran had these comments after the game.
Eddie Gran says you might not see UK run the Wildcat again this season. Thoughts? pic.twitter.com/A2muITZuL9
— Ben Roberts (@BenRobertsHL) September 9, 2017
More than likely the Wildcat isn’t going anywhere because it has been so successful for the team over the last few years. If anything it will be a matter of finding the right time to implement it.
Scouting South Carolina
Like Kentucky the Gamecocks come into this contest on Saturday with a 2-0 record. However Will Muschamp‘s club has been much more impressive in their wins. They began the year with a 35-28 win over North Carolina State in Charlotte. One week ago Carolina shut down Drew Lock and the high powered Missouri offense in an impressive 31-13 victory.
Carolina is led by sophomore quarterback Jake Bentley. Since his insertion into the starting lineup in the middle of last season the Gamecocks are 6-3. Through the season’s first two contests Bentley has thrown for 402 yards and four touchdowns. The Kentucky defense line is going to have to step up and pressure Bentley.
Another battle to watch will be Deebo Samuel versus the Kentucky secondary. Samuel has ten receptions for 128 yards and two touchdowns. He also has a rushing touchdown and two more on kick returns.
— SEC (@SEC) September 11, 2017
Wildcat special teams coach Dean Hood is going to have to come up with some schemes to keep Samuel from beating them. Kentucky currently ranks last in the SEC in kickoff return yards allowed. As for Samuel there are some who think he should be in the early Heisman talk.
1) Lamar Jackson
1b) Baker Mayfield
3) Josh Rosen
4) Saquon Barkley
5) Deebo Samuel
— Matt Schick (@ESPN_Schick) September 11, 2017
Who Wins On Saturday?
It is time to look into the Crystal Ball during this Kentucky Versus South Carolina Preview and Predictions. In order for the Cats to win on Saturday they will have to control the clock behind Snell and keep Carolina off the field.
The Gamecocks rank 12th in the SEC in rushing offense so Kentucky needs to shut down the passing game and force the run. However All-SEC linebacker Jordan Jones is dealing with a shoulder injury and may not be 100% on Saturday.
Told by a good source that online rumors of Jordan Jones broken collarbone are false…only Bruise but status for Saturday is uncertain
— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) September 13, 2017
If Jones can’t play or is limited backup Eli Brown will have to step up. Without Jones stopping the Carolina offense gets even tougher. Again the match up of the Wildcat secondary versus Samuel and Bryan Edwards is going to be interesting to watch.
One player who could be the X-Factor for Kentucky is Lynn Bowden. The highly touted freshman played sparingly against Southern Miss and was ejected in the first quarter last week after a questionable targeting penalty. It was in the third game last season where then freshman Snell emerged and True Blue Fans hope it happens again.
It is hard to imagine South Carolina’s seniors graduating without ever defeating Kentucky. That is a feat you hear of with Kentucky basketball but never in football. Muschamp has been hammering that point home all week. In front of what will be a raucous crowd in Williams-Brice Stadium expect lots of “Sandstorm” as the Gamecocks break the streak.
South Carolina 27 Kentucky 20
Thanks for checking out the Kentucky Versus South Carolina Preview and Predictions here at Last Word on College Football. Next week the Wildcats try to break the longest current losing streak in the NCAA against Florida.