The South Carolina Gamecocks have added a wrinkle this season that Steve Spurrier has not been known for in the past, a rugged defense. With the Cock’s struggling trying to find a nucleus on the offensive side of the ball, it has been the defense that has carried the birds for most of this early 2007 season. Many have speculated that Kentucky will be hard pressed to score points against the #1 ranked pass defense in the country; I disagree. Let’s take a closer look ………..
Yes, South Carolina has been extremely effective against the pass this season as shown with their lofty ranking, but who has it actually faced that possess a legitimate air attack? USC has played four division 1-A teams, Louisiana-Lafayette, Georgia, LSU, and Miss. State. None of those names makes you gulp if you are playing man coverage for the Gamecocks. Let’s look at the passing numbers from those teams so far this season.
– Louisiana-Lafayette is currently ranked #100 in the nation in passing at 159 yards per game.
– Georgia is currently ranked #71 in the nation in passing at 207 yards per game
– LSU is currently ranked #61 in the nation in passing at 216 yards per game
– Miss. State is currently ranked #110 in the nation in passing at 136 yards per game.
So to recap, of the four teams USC has faced, there is an average of 179.5 yards passing per game, which would be good enough for 85th in the country.
I guess the list could be worse, but looking at those teams, their passing attacks are nothing to write home about.
Now on the contrary my friends, the Gamecock rushing defense is one of the worst in the SEC. They currently are giving up 201.2 yards per game on the ground. And if we visit some more stats, we find that the teams who lacked strong air arsenals, all have strong running numbers.
-Louisiana-Lafayette ranks #7 in the country in rushing
– LSU ranks #12 in the country in rushing
– Georgia ranks #33 in the country in rushing
– Miss State ranks #44 in the nation rushing
Of those four squads there is an average of 249 yards rushing per game, which would rank #24 in the nation.
So you ask, what does all of this mean?
Well, obviously you can run the ball on the cocks, but it also tells me that they have yet to be tested in the secondary against a sound passing game. I would venture to say the air attack they will see Thursday night will be far superior to anything USC has seen so far. Andre Woodson is now a legitimate Heisman contender and has weapons galore at all of the receiving positions. Kentucky is going to have success through the air, because at the end of the day, it is what they do best.
However, what so many outsiders fail to see is how efficient the running game has been for UK. The Cats currently stand #11 in the nation in rushing. As we discussed just moments earlier, you can definitely gash the cock’s defense on the ground. USC is going to face an offense that is balanced, very efficient, and at the same time does not make mistakes.
That spells bad news for Ol’ Steve, as Kentucky has one of the best play action passing games in all of the land. If the Cats can get the running game going, and by the looks of things, there should be no reason why they shouldn’t, the passing game is going to be dynamic.
A lot of eyes are going to open after Kentucky pours points on the board both through the air and on the ground against the Cocks. Then again, once you break things down a bit you can see why it is going to happen.
Balance, discipline, and talent. Steve’s boys have eyed two of those traits this season, but balance is a deadly combination that will eventually be the downfall of the USC secondary come Thursday night.
Of course, this is just my opinion. Take it up with Matt Jones if I am wrong.