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Kentucky vs. South Carolina: The Most Important Matchups

 The UK O-Line vs. Carolina D-Line

The Kentucky offensive line struggled to find continuity through the first six quarters of the season.  Slowly but surely, they were able to get the ground game going last week, finishing the EKU game with more than 200 yards rushing.  However, there were still bad snaps and porous pass protection.

On the other side of the line, South Carolina has surrendered 133.5 yards rushing per game, ranked ninth in the SEC.  What they lack in the run game, they make up for in the pass rush.  Three seniors on the d-line have helped the defense get five sacks.  The Kentucky offensive line has to look more like they did in 2016 than they did during the first two games.

Benny Snell vs. T.J. Brunson and Skai Moore

South Carolina’s defense has given up more yards (927) than any other team in the SEC.  Moore and Brunson, the Gamecocks’ inside linebackers, are their best chance at slowing down opponents.  The team’s top two tacklers have combined for 37 tackles, 2 tackles for loss and 2 quarterback hurries.

South Carolina’s defense is most vulnerable against the run and in play-action.  To take advantage of their weaknesses, Kentucky must get Benny snell going early, unlike the slow starts from Snell that have defined the 2017 season.  When he isn’t colliding with linebackers in the run, he must do it in pass protection, something the UK running backs struggled to do last Saturday.

Deebo Samuel vs. Derrick Baity

@PFF_College

When Samuel is lined up outside, he’ll likely encounter Baity.  DB will either see a deep go or a screen.  Physicality is the key to containing Samuel.

Baity will not be the only one charged to cover Samuel.  When Samuel moves down to the slot, Mike Edwards and Kendall Randolph will cover him from the nickel.  The slot is the quickest and most efficient way to get the ball in Samuel’s hands.  They cannot afford to miss or he will make them pay.

C.J. Conrad vs. Hayden Hurst

Two of the best tight ends in the SEC will be on the same field today.  Hurst and Conrad have the size and athleticism to change the game, yet they are both criminally underused.  The offense that makes the most out of their tight end will have the advantage.

Here’s to hoping Hurst still thinks he can hurdle 6’4″ cornerbacks.

Stephen Johnson vs. Jake Bentley

The quarterbacks have comparable stats and have both done an excellent job taking care of the ball.  Whoever can play mistake-free and stay the course will lead their team to a hard-fought victory.

Article written by Nick Roush

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