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UK vs. USC: Position Matchups and Numbers

jojo scar td espncfb

In week one, Kentucky won most of all position comparisons. Going into SEC play, here’s how the Wildcats and Gamecocks stack up:


Quarterback: Kentucky

Patrick Towles wasn’t as accurate as expected, but still threw 3 touchdowns. Over/under throws for potential touchdowns were a matter of 10 yards. UK was that close to a convincing win over a good football team. Connor Mitch struggled early and is making his first home start. South Carolina’s non-dependent upon QB production with Wildcat emphasis.

Running back: Kentucky

Starter vs. Starter advantage Kentucky. Boom Williams ranks 3rd in the SEC averaging 13.5 yards per carry after rushing for 135 yards against Louisiana. South Carolina’s rushing leader was its 3rd team RB, Shon Carson with 75 yards.

Offensive line: Kentucky

Cats rolled up 435 total yards and left at least 28 points and one hundred more yards on the field. South Carolina’s strength is in the run game and had to replace key starters from a year ago. LT Brandon Shell is elite.

Tight end: South Carolina

Senior Jerrell Adams is a 6’6 matchup nightmare. UK’s CJ Conrad was used more as a fullback in week one, but could take on a more traditional TE role in Columbia. Conrad’s blocking was non-freshman like and a key in Wildcat scoring plays.

Receivers: Kentucky

Carolina’s Pharoh Cooper will be the best football player on the field. Kentucky’s is deeper and has more big play capable receivers.


Defensive line: South Carolina

Defensive ends Cedrick Cooper and Marquavius Lewis are defensive bookends. Defensive tackle Kelsey Griffin has 1.5 sacks in the opener. Kentucky had its moments, but lacks quality depth at key positions. Cats are led a pair of NT’s, Melvin Lewis and an improved Matt Elam. Corey Johnson returns from a one game suspension to add pass rush from the 3 technique.

Linebackers: South Carolina

This game features two of the best SEC inside linebackers in Skai Moore and Josh Forrest. Gamecock linebackers are all upperclassmen that’s played a great deal of football. Suspended Jason Hatcher won’t make the trip, Ryan Flannigan is still questionable. DJ Eliot’s options are seniors Khalid Henderson and Jabari Johnson then a bunch of freshmen. For Kentucky, this position’s aptitude will influence the final score.

Cornerback: Even

Pleasantly surprised with upperclassmen JD Harmon and Cody Quinn, Wildcat corners played at a higher level than in 2014. True freshman Chris Westry’s debut was encouraging. South Carolina’s CB’s, Chris Lammons and Rico McWilliams were exposed against UNC’s athletic receivers. Kentucky’s receivers are equally as threatening.

Safety: Kentucky

AJ Stamps is special and an elite SEC safety. UK finally has depth at both positions as Marcus McWilson’s improvement was evident in week one. Kansas transfer Isiah Johnson added to the Gamecock defense. His running mate, Jordan Diggs is a big hitter. Overall, for both teams, this position is a program strength.

SPECIAL TEAMS: South Carolina

Austin MacGinnis opened the season by uncharacteristically missing a field goal and point after attempt. Carolina gets the edge because its best player returns punts, Pharoh Cooper.


*Note, SEC is a 14 team league

Total Offense (Yards): UK 7th (435), SC 11th (394)

Scoring Offense (Points): UK 6th (40), SC 12th (17)

Rushing Offense (Yards): UK 10th (178), SC 3rd (254)

Pass Offense (Yards): UK 6th (257), SC 12th (140)

Total Defense (Yards): UK 13th (479), SC 12th (440)

Scoring Defense (Points): UK 14th (33), SC 4th (13)

Rushing Defense (Yards): UK 14th (247), SC 12th (208)

Pass Defense (Yards): UK 11th (232), SC 12th (232)

What does it all mean?

Two evenly matched teams. For Kentucky to win, Patrick Towles will need to excel. South Carolina will force the Cats to beat them by the pass. South Carolina will run the football often and effectively. Numbers indicate that Saturday could turn into a track meet. A high-scoring affair may be the end result. As for all the freshmen and first-time players making their first road trip, the pressure will actually be less than what they experienced in the home opener. There was a great deal of emphasis in opening the new CWS.

Article written by Freddie Maggard

Former University of Kentucky Quarterback and Andy Griffith Fan Club President

10 Comments for UK vs. USC: Position Matchups and Numbers

  1. UKErik
    5:50 pm September 8, 2015 Permalink

    Check out my preview on Catspause

    • SCCat
      7:24 pm September 8, 2015 Permalink

      I did and like your commentary – this one is up for grabs and honestly this is the time for the program to turn that BIG corner, and win on the road in the conference. I believe! Get that W!!!

  2. ICBMcat
    5:54 pm September 8, 2015 Permalink

    Enjoy your stuff Freddie Maggard but these are blue-tinted glasses. We got handled at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball by a Sun Belt team. We will have to improve freakishly against SEC teams. One bright spot: the Head Ball Coach loves passing so much he might get bored running it down our throats and give us the game like last year.

    • cig107
      6:25 pm September 8, 2015 Permalink

      Handled? No way

    • Captain Obvious
      9:59 pm September 8, 2015 Permalink

      This is a blue-tinted website.

      cig107, I’d save it; you cannot argue with people like this…..

  3. john wall
    5:54 pm September 8, 2015 Permalink

    Why isn’t Jason Hatcher traveling to South Carolina? I thought it was just a one game suspension

    • ICBMcat
      5:57 pm September 8, 2015 Permalink

      Hatcher got two.

  4. Bigbluedrew
    2:35 am September 9, 2015 Permalink

    Calling this game a toss up is the equivalent to whistling past the graveyard. 1. It is an SEC road game, nuff said about that.2. Our defense is soft up front and green and inexperienced at linebacker, not a very good situation with the old ball coach calling the plays. 3. Our QB while talented has never stepped up and gotten it done on the road,and assuming he will is not a given. 4. Finally USC is much better than we are giving credit for. They performed better in week 1 against a far superior opponent to the one we played.

    • CatsBy80
      8:51 am September 9, 2015 Permalink

      USC played like garbage against North Carolina… Don’t even try to say they didn’t. Do I think UK wins this weekend? Maybe. If we do win, we will have to score 30+ points, because we will struggle to stop their run attack. Their RBs will score at least 3 times… Our D line & linebackers will have to play their best game this weekend for us to go down there and steal one.

  5. Freddie
    11:19 am September 9, 2015 Permalink

    Spread is 7.5. Given 3-4 points for home team, experts saying it’s a field goal game. For an in-conference game, that pretty much describes a toss up regardless of who is playing. Will it be so? Who knows. UK’s run defense is concerning. Weather will favor SC. UK will score points. Thanks for reading.