It’s GAMEDAY!!! There is no point in dwelling on the last 2 weeks; it is Week 5 and time to jump above .500 heading into the bye week. The ‘Cats have had South Carolina’s number of late and will look to win their 6th straight against the Gamecocks tonight under the lights in Columbia.
1) Another Backup Quarterback
- At this point, the curse of the backup quarterback is well known for Kentucky fans. The Wildcats will face another one this evening as true freshman Ryan Hllinski will be under-center after Jake Bentley’s injury in their Week 1 loss to North Carolina. Hilinski has thrown it a lot since taking over; attempting nearly 40 passes a game. The Kentucky pass rush should be able to take advantage of a suspect offensive line and Hilinski is not very mobile in the pocket. When given time, he can pick a defense apart, but he has proven to make some bad decisions in the last couple of weeks when pressure comes as shown by the two defensive touchdowns he has allowed in his short time as QB1.
2) Where is The Rushing Attack?
- South Carolina is coming off an abysmal ground game against Missouri. The Gamecocks managed only 16 yards on 24 carriers last weekend in their 34-14 loss. The talent is there with former Clemson running back Tavien Feaster and leading rusher Rico Dowdle. Dowdle, a senior, is averaging 6.5 yards per carry and has found the end zone 3 times so far this season. For South Carolina to have success tonight they will have to establish more of a rushing attack than they have so far, but that won’t be easy with Kentucky’s front 7.
3) Talented Defensive Line
- The Gamecocks feature senior Javon Kinlaw up front and he is the current SEC leader in sacks with 4 in as many games. 3-year starter T.J. Brunson lines up at linebacker but it is his fellow linebacker Ernest Jones who leads the team in tackles so far this season. South Carolina was more competitive than expected against Alabama and had a huge win against Charleston Southern that has skewed some stats early on this season. Still, this is a defense that has given up over 400 yards of total offense per game. Sawyer Smith and company will look to move the ball early, stay ahead of the chains, and put points on the board against this bend but don’t break defense.
4) Big Plays Will be There
- In Week 1, three different North Carolina running backs broke off rushes of over 20 yards. Alabama had five different receivers catch a pass for over a 30-yard gaining including a 81 yard grab. Last week against Missouri the defense allowed an even 227 yards against the run and the pass and gave up 26 first downs and managed just 11 of their own offensively. Even Charlestown Southern was able to get a 44-yard run against the Gamecock defense. Lynn Bowden, A.J. Rose, Kavosiey Smoke, and the rest of the Kentucky offense should be primed for some chunk plays today.
5) Will Muschamp Hot Seat?
- There probably are some South Carolina fans who wouldn’t mind to see their already poor start to the season continue just to get rid of their head football coach. While the seat is definitely getting warm in Columbia, there are about 22 millions reasons (what South Carolina would owe Muschamp) to keep him around for at least one more year. Still, there will continue to be a little added sense of urgency as Muschamp coaches to keep his job in his 4th season as the Gamecocks head coach.