(Sure, Jadeveon Clowney is a Sophomore and has tons of college highlights by now, but this is one of the most terrifying/laughable/amazing highlight videos I’ve ever seen.)
After last weekend’s effort against Will Muschamp’s Florida Gators, Joker’s Wildcats are looking to bounce back with a key home game against South Carolina. Unfortunately for Kentucky, now 1-3 on the season, Steve Spurrier’s undefeated Gamecocks are an elite level football team that is widely considered to be a darkhorse national title contender. Even more unfortunate for our Wildcats is that the Ol’ Ball Coach also brings a fetish for running up the score into Commonwealth (among other things, but I don’t judge). South Carolina, who enters this weekend’s match-up ranked #6 in both Coaches and AP Polls, brings several elite units which are certain to create nightmares for Maxwell Smith and company come game time on Saturday.
For any shade of competitiveness to show come Saturday, Kentucky’s offense must figure out a way to neutralize South Carolina’s hyper-talented Defensive Line, which includes stars like Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor. It will be challenging though, as South Carolina will be the best defense Kentucky has faced thus far, and likely will be the best they face all season. The Carolina front is certainly daunting, as they’ve forced 15 sacks on the season (5th nationally), allow an average of 15.3 opponent first downs per game (T-14th nationally), and only allow their opposition to rush for an average of 2.0 yards per carry (6th nationally). While their rushing defense and ability to pressure the quarterback are astounding there are some weaknesses to be found, mainly passing efficiency once the ball is beyond the Defensive Line. On the season Carolina has allowed 7.0 yards per passing attempt (T-68th nationally) and let their opponents complete 60.9% of their passes (77th nationally). If Maxwell Smith (assuming he’s healthy) and his receivers can find a way to quickly move the ball around the field, so Clowney and company can’t apply pressure, a chance for effective offense exists. Easier said than done, though.
In past years, the Gamecock offense has been overshadowed by
Steven Garcia’s drinking inconsistent Quarterback play, but that issue appears to have gone the way of the Dodo bird. Last Saturday Carolina Quarterback, Conner Shaw, had quite the day throwing for 249 yards on 20/21 passing (11.9 YPA). To top it off he had two touchdowns paired with no interceptions. It was no fluke either, on the season South Carolina is averaging 9.9 years per attempt (T-6th nationally) and is completing 62.9% of their passes (51st). It’s not just passing that strikes fear into opponents, Carolina’s backfield holds one of the nation’s elite running backs, Marcus Lattimore. So far this season he’s averaging 4.6 yards per carry and already has 6 touchdowns to his credit. Compare this to a Kentucky defense that has issues stopping just about everyone and we have a recipe for a colossal mismatch. All things considered, it’s certainly hard to envision any circumstance where Kentucky could come out on top in this match-up.
South Carolina enters this Saturday’s match-up in Commonwealth Stadium as 21-point favorites, tied for their largest predicted margin of victory since 2001 (coincidentally also against Kentucky). It doesn’t take an expert or an orgy of numbers to realize that Saturday’s contest will be a mismatch, of course that tends to happen when a title contender faces a struggling team. Will we see our Wildcats ready to play come Saturday night or will we see another Florida-esque beatdown? Hard to predict for sure, but if our past against Spurrier is any indication it’ll probably be the latter of the two.