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Nervous About South Carolina? You Are Not Alone


Garnet and Cocky

You feel that?  That uneasy feeling in your stomach, one that grows when you think about the Sandstorm this Saturday night at Williams-Brice.  Don’t worry, I feel it too, and for more than one reason.

Deebo Samuel

He’s returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the first two games of the season.  Last week, Austin MacGinnis had to make two tackles on kickoffs to stop a touchdown.  It’s a recipe for disaster, but that’s not what’s most concerning.

Born Tyshun Samuel, his Dad gave him the nickname Deebo from the movie Friday. If you’re name is Deebo, you are one bad man.

I will do whatever it takes to avoid a man named Deebo.  Hopefully that’s not the case for Kentucky’s kickoff coverage unit.

That Offensive Line

The Kentucky offense dominated in the trenches a year ago.  The same cannot be said about the first two weeks of the season.  Rotating a lot of players in a variety of positions, they failed to find any type of continuity.  It’d be a concern if they just couldn’t open holes.  It’s more worrisome when they couldn’t do it against an outmanned EKU team.  It’s even worse when they can’t consistently cleanly snap the football.

Important Injuries

Two of Kentucky’s biggest stars were injured against EKU.  The SEC’s top returning tackler from 2016, Jordan Jones, injured his shoulder.  Shoulder injuries plague linebackers.  Considered day-to-day, his pain tolerance will determine if he’s able to play against South Carolina.  I’m confident Jones can overcome the pain to play, but if he can’t, the Kentucky defense did not look good in his absence during the first quarter last Saturday.

Benny Snell had to leave Kroger Field momentarily to have his ribs x-rayed.  Luckily, they produced negative results and Snell returned to rush for more than 100 yards.  It’s still a cause for concern.  If Snell takes a hard hit to the midsection, something he does often, it could force him to the sidelines.

Sihiem King and A.J. Rose lack experience.  It might not hamper the offense as badly in the running game, but it could be disastrous in the passing game.  Stephen Johnson’s success is Kentucky’s gateway to a road victory, but if he does not have time because the running backs are failing to pick up blitzes, the UK offense will be in trouble.

Jake Bentley is the SEC’s Sweetheart

The South Carolina quarterback received plenty of preseason hype, and through two challenging games away from Columbia, he’s lived up to the lofty expectations.  Before I pump up Bentley even more, there’s one thing worth noting: his 2017 stats are about the same as Stephen Johnson’s.

Jake Bentley Stephen Johnson
Total Yards 408 458
Touchdowns 4 4
Completion % 61.4 61.9
QB Rating 140.3 157.6

Karma

Kentucky has defeated South Carolina three times in a row.  Those wins were decided by an average of six points.  It’s a great sign for the program, but my internal pessimist is telling me, “The Cats can’t keep winning the close games against South Carolina, right?”

You Can’t Trust Kentucky Football

Being a Kentucky football fan is hard.  Every fan was happy to see the Cats beat Southern Miss and EKU, but those games were unnecessarily nerve-racking.  They were wins, but they were never pretty.  Even with a lead, doubt loomed over the Big Blue Nation.

There is an explanation to this pessimistic feeling: it’s probably felt by all college football fans everywhere.  Teams that are supposed to be better on paper will not always overpower their opponent.  This applies to every fanbase except Alabama; it’s not exclusive to the Big Blue Nation.  However, the wait for impending failure feels more present for Kentucky fans.  It’s one that will not be overcome until the clock reaches zero and the Cats walk away with a victory in Columbia (fingers crossed).

Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

27 responses to “Nervous About South Carolina? You Are Not Alone”

  1. david8577

    If we play anything like we did the last two weeks, we lose by three touchdowns.

    1. runningunnin.454

      But, “You ain’t seen n n nuthin yet”.
      BTO

  2. maximumscott

    I bet we show up and further confuse our fans. That my friend is UK football.

    1. ArmyCatFan

      Could not agree more

    2. AirRaid98

      Yup. Get our hopes up going into the Florida game only to get smashed for the 31st straight time. I hope I’m wrong

  3. BluKudzu

    I have a lot of friends in Columbia that have been waiting a long time for this game. I can tell you this, if the Gamecocks lose this game, at home, the heat for their coach will be nuclear in scope.

    1. Mathlete

      They need to chill They were good under Spurrier, but at what other point in their history were they good enough to expect to be better than mediocre or their coach needs to go?

  4. DennyC

    It’s going to get UGLY! Good thing most of America won’t see it but will be watching College game day’s FEATURED Game between two top 15 ranked teams, Heisman-Loaded LOUISVILLE vs CLEMSON!!!

    1. J-Dub421
    2. BBNDan7

      Seriously who taught you how to type

    3. runningunnin.454

      UGLY is a Heisman winner coughing up the ball inside the 10 yard line.

  5. RackEmWillie

    Has Kentucky ever defeated an SEC team 4 years in a row? My only guess would be Vandy, but even then, I don’t know if UK has ever had a 4 year stretch in which they were always the better team.

    Somebody with more time on their hands than me, figure this out. Because I’d love to know.

    1. kyle heavy

      No UK coach since Bear Bryant has defeated an SEC team 4 times in a row, with the exception of Vandy. Good question.

    2. kyle heavy

      “Kentucky enters SEC play on the road trying to beat a conference foe not named Vanderbilt for a fourth consecutive year for the first time since Bear Bryant’s Wildcats vanquished Florida in 1948, ’49, ’50 and ’51.”

      http://www.kentucky.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/mark-story/article172825906.html

  6. CatstopWontstop

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…Kentucky is not a very good football team. They’ve not shown it this year, and last years record was a deceiving because of a down SEC East/awful strength of schedule. The one and only good win in the Mark Stoops era was at home against Louisville last year. That’s it folks.

    I’d love to be wrong, but I think it’s Gamecocks by 2 scores.

    1. andy1604

      We beat Louisville at their place last year.

    2. maximumscott

      We have the talent and depth to compete with SC. The only problem we have this year is getting adjusted to new offensive players.

  7. Trevathan

    What scary part of South Carolina am I missing? Seriously? A few people anointed them as a team to watch in the preseason and then we all have to fear them because of it? Missouri isn’t good. NC State isn’t good. And we’ve barely put a full game of film on the table for them to work from. There’s no way we should be a touchdown underdog in this game. This is a pick ’em with maybe a field goal going for home field at night with a blackout. Cats by 4.

  8. big cat

    All we heard during the off season and during camp….from the UK staff, along with media pundits was the “hype” surrounding this year’s team. After the first 2 games, just look at the Power Rankings in the SEC….we dropped from 11 to 12….and we are 2-0. Folks, I love UK football, and I’m excited too about where we are going, but this team is not living up to their expectations. A lot of us had lofty expectations for this team, but the reality is that we still might be a year or two away from a consistent, respectable 8-9 win team. Yes, we have had injuries….and unless we have been sandbagging the first 2 games, I also agree that the Gamecocks beat us badly.

    1. catsarerunnin

      It’s quite the conundrum to be excited about “where we are going” but yet realizing “this team is not living up to expectations”….

  9. az1006

    I just don’t understand how a team has “not lived up to expectations” after two games, both of which were wins. What were we all really expecting? To go on the road and blow out a team that beat us on our home field last year? If you expected that, you’re an idiot. We didn’t play perfect football against USM, but we played outstanding defense and we won a tough game on the road. I was disappointed with the EKU game, but aside from a couple of special teams miscues, the last 35 minutes of the game was basically dominated by Kentucky. We appeared to get some kinks worked out, and Bennie was able to rush for over 100 yards while playing injured.

    A lot of you are failing to see how much we’ve lost from a personnel standpoint. Cole Mosier is a MAJOR

  10. az1006

    blow, and without Boom we don’t have the 1-2 punch we had out of the backfield. A lot of guys are having to learn new roles, and it’s proven more difficult than most of us expected.

    But to say this team has failed to live up to expectations after two weeks is beyond ridiculous. They’ll have to play better to go on the road and beat an SEC team, sure, but they can and likely will.

    1. KYcats11

      My exact thoughts. Couldn’t agree more! Beat South Carolina!

  11. jimmer

    Johnson stats > Bentley stats = why aren’t more people talking about this?!

    1. DennyC

      Stats against C-USA and OVC is like YMCA football. Bentley went up against POWER FIVE schools. It’s not rocket science son. . .

    2. UK Big Board Update

      Remember when UK struggled with Austin Peay, and then the next game, beat POWER FIVE school Louisville on their field on Senior Day? To be fair, Louisville had LOST the two games prior to that game, even though they had a Heisman winner.

    3. catsarerunnin

      Yes because when something happened years ago it definitely means it will happen again.