The Cardinals aren't anywhere as stout as some of the teams on the upcoming Wildcats' schedule so the unkind statistics told a bigger story than the 24-17 final score.
Coach Joker Phillips couldn't deny that Kentucky lost the battle in the trenches and lost it by a large margin.
"Definitely," Phillips said. "They rushed for 181 yards and we rushed for 35 yards. We had six sacks against us, so yes."
Phillips wasn't as agreeable when it was suggested that toughness is an issue. Of course, there aren't many coaches who will come out publicly and say their squad is soft.
"We've got tough kids, because our defense, those guys are doing a really good job of flying to the ball and tackling," Phillips said.
The offensive line has been struggling with injuries to center Matt Smith and tackle Billy Joe Murphy. The unit isn't playing with cohesion and it showed often against the Cardinals.
No matter how you slice it, getting pushed around by the in-state rivals was a distressing development.
"It's disappointing that they beat us, period," Phillips said. "I mean, they beat us."
Now SEC play starts against a Florida program that regularly whips the Wildcats.
"We're going to bounce back," receiver La'Rod King said. "We've got Florida in SEC play next week and we are going to take this feeling and put it in our back pocket and use this motivation to our advantage."
--Kentucky's time of possession through three games is nearly six minutes less than its opponents, a troubling stat with the schedule about to get much fierce. After the Florida game, the Wildcats visit LSU and South Carolina.
--The Wildcats were outrushed 181-35 by Louisville to keep an interesting streak going -- the team that has rushed for the most yards has won each of the last 16 games between Kentucky and Louisville.
--The loss to the Cardinals ended Kentucky's school record of 21 consecutive regular-season non-conference contests. The Wildcats had beaten Louisville four straight times.
KEEP AN EYE ON: WR E.J. Fields -- The fourth-year junior hadn't caught a single pass in his career until having a seven-catch game against Louisville. Fields caught a touchdown pass and the Wildcats will be giving him a long look in hopes he can become a reliable sidekick to top wideout La'Rod King.
STILL NEEDS WORK: Freshman Josh Clemons struggled with just 28 yards on 12 carries against Louisville and the Wildcats missed sophomore Raymond Sanders, who was out with a knee injury. Junior Coshik Williams had 29 yards on six carries in his first action of the season. Only King and Fields have caught more than three passes as Kentucky struggles to find reliable receiving targets. A veteran offensive line that was expected to be the strength of the team has struggled and was manhandled by Louisville while allowing six sacks. The defensive line also had issues against the Cardinals. Only four players are averaging better than five tackles per game.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I thought that E.J. Fields really stepped up and did a really good job for us. When another receiver is struggling, he gets a chance to go in the game and was a guy that took advantage of an opportunity." -- Kentucky coach Joker Phillips on junior E.J. Fields, who made the first seven catches of his college career in the loss to Louisville.
--QB Morgan Newton completed a career-best 27 passes (in 41 attempts) while having his best game of the season against Louisville. Newton has passed for 466 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions. He will have to throw effectively for Kentucky to have any chance of competing with Florida.
--WR Demarco Robinson made a freshman mistake late in the Louisville game when Kentucky was seeking a game-tying touchdown. Robinson caught a third-down pass and had the first down but tried to get extra yardage and fumbled the ball backwards. He recovered at the Louisville 18-yard and the Wildcats' last-ditch fourth-down pass was incomplete.
--DE Collins Ukwu is a key player against the speedy Gators and has been Kentucky's top lineman through three games. He has one of the team's six sacks and three tackles for loss.
--RB Raymond Sanders underwent minor right knee surgery last Thursday and will probably miss two more games at the minimum. He had surgery on his left knee during the summer.
--WR Gene McCaskill injured his back in the opening quarter of the Louisville game and his status will be updated during the week.
--G Larry Warford tweaked an ankle late in the game and isn't expected to practice early in the week and he will be evaluated during the week to see if he can play against Florida.
--T Billy Joe Murphy (knee) missed his second straight game.
As tuneups go, the Crimson Tide's last one before Southeastern Conference play wasn't a bad one, although they did leave some points on the field against North Texas.
Still, Saturday night's 41-0 win in Tuscaloosa was dominant enough, not just from a statistical perspective, but from a physical aspect. Alabama outgained the Mean Green 586-169, averaging nearly 10 yards per snap and pitching its first shutout of the year.
"Not finishing drives and having situations where we ended up trying field goals and only made two of four, that's where you've got to score in the red zone and do a better job," Saban said. "You've got to score touchdowns when you get in the red area."
Fortunately for the Tide, tailbacks Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy proved capable of scoring touchdowns from way outside the red area. Richardson ripped off six-point runs from 58 and 71 yards, while Lacy found the end zone from 43 and 67 yards.
The duo split 328 yards almost equally, Richardson finishing with 167 and Lacy adding 161. Lacy's development into an excellent No. 2 tailback is perhaps the offense's best news over the first three games.
The defense was again dominant, permitting just 11 first downs and less than three yards per play. Now comes the real games that will determine if Alabama's road towards a national championship stays the course or hits season-altering potholes.
"We have some things we need to work on," defensive lineman Damion Squire said. "We have to get stronger in some aspects. You make mistakes and then make them right so you can get better in SEC play."
--The Crimson Tide stretched its September winning streak to 15 games against North Texas. In coach Nick Saban's five seasons, they are 18-2 in the season's first month, with the only losses occurring in his first year – 2007.
--Alabama notched its fourth shutout in the Saban regime, its first since a 45-0 blanking of FCS opponent Chattanooga on Nov. 21, 2009. It has held opponents to 10 points or less 26 times in Saban's tenure, including twice this year.
KEEP AN EYE ON: QB Phillip Sims -- Earning playing time in the second and fourth quarters, Sims was 6-of-8 for 49 yards and avoided the mistakes which hurt him and the offense in the opener against Kent State. While A.J. McCarron is the starter, Sims is one play away from being the man and the coaches had to be pleased to see him cut down on errors in this one, even if the opponent wasn't that stout.
LOOKING GOOD: The offense produced lots of big plays in the running game with four TD runs of 43 yards or longer, which helped Alabama average 10.5 yards per attempt. The passing game was very efficient, producing 14 first downs among 21 completions and hitting more than 72 percent of its attempts. The defense may have faced a weak offense -- at least by SEC standards -- but played well enough to record a shutout and that's never a bad thing. The Tide allowed only 169 total yards and 11 first downs.
STILL NEEDS WORK: The offense flubbed its chances in the red zone during the first half, settling for field goal attempts instead of punching it in on four of five opportunities. Worse yet, it missed two, something it can't afford against the likes of Arkansas and LSU. Jeremy Shelley's misses came from 36 and 42; kickers who miss 36-yarders tend to jeopardize their job security. The defense failed to sack the quarterback for a second straight game and that's something which has to change in SEC play.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We obviously know what a national championship team looks like by coaching on one at Florida and playing one tonight. They suffocated our offensive line." – North Texas coach Dan McCarney, a former Urban Meyer assistant, on Alabama.
--QB AJ McCarron was solid against North Texas, hitting 15-of-21 passes for 190 yards. The one disquieting note is that he took three sacks, which doesn't bode well with better defenses ahead on the schedule.
--LB Courtney Upshaw was a big-play guy defensively, recording three tackles for loss and notching three quarterback hurries. Upshaw will need to create more of that pressure on Saturday against Arkansas' Tyler Wilson.
--LB Vinnie Sunseri collected a half-dozen tackles and continued to do good work covering kicks. Sunseri is a reliable reserve at his position and has been arguably the team's top special teams performer through three games.
--SS Robert Lester (back spasms) left the game early in the third quarter after blocking a 42-yard field goal and didn't return. Lester, who had two tackles, periodically has trouble with his back, but it's thought that he should be ready for the Arkansas game.
--WR Darius Hanks made his return to competition against North Texas with two catches for 20 yards. Hanks had to sit out the first two games to satisfy an NCAA requirement after declaring 2007 as a redshirt year, even though he played in a game that season. The senior now has 60 catches in his career.
If LSU wanted to put together a video to illustrate its blueprint for winning games, it could simply use the game tape of the 19-6 victory at Mississippi State last Thursday.
"I like this," Miles said of the performance against the Bulldogs. "That defense plays extremely well. If we do the right things with the ball on offense, we can win a lot of games."
So far they're three for three overall and one for one in the SEC. The Tigers held the SEC's top offense to 193 yards and no touchdowns, stymieing it much as it did Northwestern State's a week earlier and, to a lesser degree, Oregon's in the opener.
"The whole defense turned it up, especially the line," tackle Michael Brockers said. "We were just trying to get penetration in the backfield."
LSU did just that, tackling State ball carriers behind the line of scrimmage 15 times.
On offense, the Tigers ran for 148 yards, and quarterback Jarrett Lee continued to be efficient, completing 21-of-27 passes for 213 yards and a touchdown, though he did throw his first interception of the season.
--LSU's depth and experience on the offensive line came in handy against State. Starting LT Chris Faulk limped to the sideline after injuring an ankle on the Tigers' fifth play from scrimmage and did not return. Greg Shaw, the backup right tackle, replaced Faulk.
--Later, Josh Williford, who has been slowed by a foot injury, replaced RG Will Blackwell after a series in which Blackwell had two penalties. LG T-Bob Hebert missed a series after a minor ankle injury, but returned.
"With the guys we have on this offensive line," Hebert said, "it's a luxury with the depth and versatility. That's hard to come by. I think the coaches probably enjoy it even more than we do because they have a little bit of an insurance policy."
--LSU has not allowed a touchdown in the last eight quarters. It held the Bulldogs to two field goals a week after beating Northwestern State, 49-3. The last time the Tigers gave up a touchdown was in the fourth quarter of the season opener, when Oregon scored the last of its three touchdowns during a 40-27 LSU victory.
--Drew Alleman made all four of his field-goal attempts against State, making LSU kickers 9-for-9 in the last two games against the Bulldogs. Josh Jasper tied a school record by making five field goals (in five attempts) during a 29-7 victory against State last season in Tiger Stadium.
--The Tigers defeated State for the 11th consecutive season and 19th time in 20 seasons.
KEEP AN EYE ON: RB Spencer Ware – Ware has become the workhorse for the Tigers. He rushed 22 times for 107 yards against the Bulldogs. He did a lot of damage down the stretch, having fourth-quarter gains of nine, nine and 23 yards as LSU wore down the Bulldogs' defense.
LOOKING GOOD: The Tigers held State, which was averaging 299 yards per game rushing after two games, to 42 yards on 34 attempts. Vick Ballard, the leading rusher in the SEC at 150 yards per game, had just 38 yards on 10 carries. After three games, LSU is holding opponents to 47.7 rushing yards per game and 1.6 yards per rush.
STILL NEEDS WORK: Though the Tigers have been getting very good penetration, they have not had much success getting sacks. They have 30 tackles for loss, but just five sacks.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's almost amazing what we could do if we run stuff right and play with the better technique." -- DT Michael Brockers on the play of the LSU defense.
--CB Morris Claiborne made two interceptions against Mississippi State. His second one set up the Tigers' final score -- a field goal that pushed the lead to 19-6 early in the fourth quarter.
--True freshman WR Odell Beckham has quickly earned the confidence of QB Jarrett Lee. Beckham caught eight passes for 61 yards against State, and after three games, he has a team-leading 15 catches for 111 yards, though he hasn't scored a touchdown.
--P Brad Wing has missed the last two games because of an unspecified injury to his left (kicking) leg. He had the leg in a protective sleeve and was walking with crutches last week before being left behind for the trip to Starkville. D.J. Howard has averaged 38.9 yards on seven punts in Wing's absence, and Seth Fruge has replaced Wing as the Tigers' holder.
--OT Chris Faulk injured an ankle against Mississippi State, and his status for this week is uncertain.
--P Brad Wing (leg) has missed the last two games, and his status for this week is uncertain.
--G Josh Dworaczyk (knee) is scheduled for surgery and will not play this season.
--Reserve G Evan Washington (foot) is out.
It had to end sooner or later.
Auburn would have just preferred the end of its 17-game winning streak didn't come with a cold reality check that it boasts one of the worst defenses in the country.
Even though their offense was churning like it always is, the Tigers allowed 624 yards of offense at Clemson on their way to a 38-24 loss, their first since the 2009 Iron Bowl.
"They are going to have short memories and learn from what we didn't do well, which is a lot of learning because we didn't do a lot well," Chizik said. "I fully expect them to be there tomorrow ready to go and ready to practice and figure out a way to get better. That's not an option."
Auburn was victimized most through the air, as Clemson quarterback Tahj Boyd racked up 286 yards and four touchdowns against a Tigers secondary that wasn't even good during the team's national championship run last season. After a slow start that saw Auburn race out to a 21-7 lead behind the running of Mike Dyer, Clemson had its way with the Tigers' defense and controlled the second half.
"I'm responsible for this," Auburn defensive coordinator Ted Roof said in a Columbus Ledger-Enquirer article. "I have to go back and evaluate everything -- including myself and what I'm doing."
Auburn did so much right last year, but the numbers were always stacked against this team going into what was expected to be a rebuilding year. It just took an ugly loss to bring that reality to the forefront.
"They're going to handle it like men," Chizik said. "They're going to go out tomorrow and practice again for the next game."
--Lost amid all the talk of Auburn's 17-game overall winning streak was its seven-game streak away from Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Tigers lost their first game away from their home stadium Saturday for the first time since a 31-24 loss at Georgia on Nov. 14, 2009.
--The Tigers are known for their fast-strike offense, but they also know how to slow it down and milk the clock. In the second quarter Saturday, Auburn used 16 plays to go 90 yards on a drive that was capped with a one-yard Mike Dyer touchdown run.
--Auburn went scoreless in the fourth quarter at Clemson, snapping a 14-quarter scoring streak. The streak dated all the way back to the first quarter of the 2011 national championship game against Oregon.
KEEP AN EYE ON: K Cody Parkey -- The sophomore has made Auburn fans quickly forget about the reliable Wes Byrum. He's a perfect 3-for-3 on field-goal attempts this season, but what's been most impressive is the distance he puts on kickoffs. Parkey already has 12 touchbacks, an average of four per game.
STILL NEEDS WORK: There's simply nothing good to say about Auburn's pass defense. It's one of the big reasons why the Tigers are 117th in the nation in total defense. Youth is a partial contributor, but veterans such as Neiko Thorpe and T'Sharvan Bell simply have to play better. Clemson did whatever it wanted against the Tigers on Saturday, and a freshman, Sammy Watkins, was able to tear through the defense for nearly 150 yards and two scores. The SEC isn't known for its prolific passing attacks, but there are a handful of teams who will absolutely carve Auburn up if it isn't able to improve in the secondary.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Time of possession is becoming an issue with our team, certainly with the number of plays we're playing defensively. That's really a combination of both the inability to convert on third downs for ourselves and the inability to get off the field on third downs defensively." -- Auburn coach Gene Chizik
--Only a sophomore, RB Mike Dyer is moving up Auburn's all-time rushing chart at a rapid pace. He's now 27th all time, as he passed four players after his big rushing day Saturday against Clemson. Dyer has already surpassed his touchdown total from last season, as he now sits with six on the season.
--WR Travante Stallworth was Auburn's top target Saturday, as he set a career high with five receptions for 71 yards and a touchdown. He was QB Barrett Trotter's top target because WR Emory Blake was mostly bottled up.
--Blake caught a 36-yard touchdown pass Saturday, giving him touchdown catches in six consecutive games. That streak is tied for the longest in Auburn history with Byron Franklin (1980.)
--DB Chris Davis took a knee to the head early in Saturday's game and also rolled his ankle. His status remains uncertain.
--LB Jonathan Evans did not play Saturday because of a shoulder injury.
--TE Philip Lutzenkirchen was briefly sidelined with an ankle injury, but returned to action.
After a pair of tough losses to open the season, Georgia took out its frustrations against overmatched FCS opponent Coastal Carolina.
The Bulldogs (1-2, 0-1 SEC) dominated on offense, defense and special teams in a 59-0 rout over Coastal Carolina at Sanford Stadium. It was Georgia's largest margin since beating Northeast Louisiana 70-6 in 1994.
"It was good to get a W," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "A lot of good things happened today because a lot of good things have been happening along, but today we got it in the win column. I think we have a very good team. Today, they did about as well as we can ask them to do."
"All down the line, people were making plays -- whether it be first-team guys, second-team guys or third-team guys," said Georgia sophomore quarterback Aaron Murray. "Guys went out and competed hard."
Murray threw three touchdown passes and rushed for another TD before giving way to backup Hutson Mason in the second half. Georgia outgained Coastal Carolina 470-112 in yardage.
"I was proud of the way we came out in the second half," Richt said. "We were able to sub freely and give a lot of guys an opportunity to play."
--With eight extra points, PK Blair Walsh passed Billy Bennett for most extra points (152) in Georgia history. Walsh also booted a 56-yard field goal, the longest for a Georgia kicker since Brandon Coutu made a 58-yarder in 2005. But Walsh was more giddy about his fumble recovery on a kickoff in the third quarter. "Right place, right time on that one," Walsh said with a grin. "It came right to me, I fell on it and they crushed me. It was nice to actually get hit."
--Georgia coach Mark Richt said the Bulldogs intend to stick with a no-huddle offense. ""We have faith in our guys on offense to run the high tempo," Richt said. "There are a lot of benefits from going high tempo, and we'll continue to do that and master that. We'll keep getting better as the season goes along."
KEEP AN EYE ON: QB Aaron Murray -- Murray passed for 188 yards and three TDs and added a TD rushing in limited duty against Coastal Carolina. Murray has thrown nine TD passes this season, compared to just two interceptions.
STILL NEEDS WORK: Georgia had a punt return for a TD by Branden Smith wiped out by a holding penalty. The Georgia defense could generate little pass rush, finishing with no sacks. QB Aaron Murray was off target in his final drive of the game before being pulled early in the third quarter.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's nice to get that bad taste out of our mouths and get rolling, We know we have a great team. We feel like we can compete with anyone in the nation." -- Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, on the Bulldogs picking up their first win of the season against Coastal Carolina.
--WR Tavarres King had a team-high 65 yards receiving on six catches, two of which went for touchdowns.
--RB Isaiah Crowell, in his first career start, had 15 carries for 86 yards. Crowell scored Georgia's first TD of the game on a 27-yard run.
--WR Malcolm Mitchell had six catches for 43 yards and a TD.
--TE Orson Charles had two catches for 42 yards and a TD. Charles caught a 33-yard TD pass from backup QB Huston Mason in the third quarter.
--LB Michael Gilliard had eight tackles, including two tackles for loss.
--S Bacarri Rambo recorded his second interception of the season, which he returned 43 yards.
--WR Marlon Brown sat out the game with an ankle injury.
--RB Richard Samuel sat out the game with a lower leg injury.
--DL DeAngelo Tyson sat out the game with a back injury.
--Shawn Williams moved from safety to make his first career start at inside linebacker. Michael Gilliard also made his first career start at inside linebacker.
--OLB Ray Drew, a true freshman five-star recruit, made a tackle on the first play of his career. Georgia has now played 13 freshmen from its "dream team" 2011 recruiting class.
It's been a while since one could make this statement, but here goes: The Commodores were the physically superior team in a Southeastern Conference game.
Owning visiting Ole Miss on both sides of the scrimmage line Saturday, Vanderbilt rolled to a 30-7 win in its SEC opener, giving it its first 3-0 start since the Music City Bowl-winning season of 2008.
"It makes me feel so good to know how hard (our team) worked for the last nine months to have them have some success," first-year coach James Franklin said. "They deserve it. The fans deserve it."
On a day where nearly 35,000 fans poured into Vanderbilt Stadium, they got to see Zac Stacy rush for 169 yards and a touchdown on just 11 carries, Trey Wilson return an interception for six points for the second time this year and the defense come within 135 seconds of a shutout.
More signs of the Commodores' new-found aggressiveness and creativity were evident. From the rarely-seen Statue of Liberty play, which Stacy turned into a 26-yard gain, to the defense recording nine tackles for loss, they dictated to Ole Miss.
And in the process, they raised hopes of only the school's second bowl bid since 1982. While Franklin won't talk about it and the upcoming schedule promises a reality check or two, Vandy has certainly earned the right to bring swagger with it.
"We expect to come out every week and win," Wilson said. "With as hard as we're working, we're going to come out and approach every game like it's the first one."
--Saturday's 30-7 win over Ole Miss marked the Commodores' largest margin of victory in an SEC game since they routed Mississippi State 49-19 in 1971.
--Vanderbilt's 21-0 halftime lead was its largest against a BCS opponent since it took a 28-7 advantage to the locker room at Duke on Oct. 28, 2006. It's also the first time it's led an SEC game by 21 points at intermission in 30 years and its first 21-point lead against any SEC team since Oct. 2, 2004, when it beat Mississippi State 31-7.
--P Richard Kent downed a punt at the two-yard line early in the first quarter, extending his personal streak of downing a punt inside the 20 to 15 consecutive games. Kent had a brilliant game, averaging 51.8 yards on four attempts.
KEEP AN EYE ON: CB Trey Wilson -- Opponents pick on him because of the presence of All-SEC caliber CB Casey Hayward on the other side. Wilson made Ole Miss pay with a pair of interceptions, returning one 52 yards for a TD in the second quarter. He also broke up three passes.
STILL NEEDS WORK: With a huge lead, a rarity for the Commodores in SEC play, they got a little sloppy, committing three turnovers. They will need a little more explosion from their passing game down the road, as they got just 106 yards out of 14 completions in this one. Vandy could also stand to cut down on penalties, committing seven after picking up 11 against Connecticut. It improved a bit on third down, converting 4-of-12, but is only 10-of-41 through three games.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Individual statistics are great, but it's team football." -- Coach James Franklin when asked about Wilson's two interception returns for TDs in the first three games.
--TB Zac Stacy ran for a career-high 169 yards and a TD on just 11 carries. It was the first 100-yard game for the junior since the first game of his career, when he compiled 133 yards against Western Carolina.
--TB Jerron Seymour did nice work in a reserve role to Stacy, rushing 16 times for 60 yards and a TD while also contributing a 33-yard reception. Seymour now owns a touchdown in two of his first three career games.
--DT Rob Lohr produced a nice encore to his SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week Award against Connecticut, notching two tackles for loss and five stops overall against Ole Miss. That gives him six TFLs in the last two games.
--RB Warren Norman (lower extremity) missed his third straight game and his status for next week's trip to South Carolina isn't known. Norman was listed on the depth chart as a backup at running back early in the week.
--TE Brandon Barden (leg) missed the game after getting injured in last week's win over Connecticut. Coach James Franklin said Barden would return, but didn't say if it would be for the South Carolina game.
The University of South Carolina coaching staff can breathe easier now that it survived its meeting with an always pesky Navy squad. The Midshipmen, possibly the best triple option team in the nation, entered Williams-Brice Stadium on the heels of a 400-yard rushing performance one week earlier.
While it didn't manage that total, Navy gave the Gamecock defense fits as it scored the first touchdown of the game and held a four-point lead late into the third quarter.
"Obviously Marcus (Lattimore) had a tremendous game," said USC coach Steve Spurrier. "We figured the best way to try to win the game was to just hand it to him and keep blocking."
Although Navy rushed for 274 yards, it was the lowest output of the season for the Midshipmen. If there was a positive for the Gamecocks, they got several stops in the second half when they desperately needed them. Senior Spur Antonio Allen came up game clinching with an interception which stopped Navy's final drive.
Senior quarterback Stephen Garcia continued to struggle, although his numbers were better. He completed 18 of 25 passes for 204 yards. He suffered a crucial second half interception, however when it appeared the Gamecocks were headed for a touchdown.
On defense USC appeared confused in the first half, but played much better in the second which allowed the Gamecocks to continue their offensive game plan or giving their opponent a heavy dose of Lattimore.
Winning its second straight nail-biter can be tough on a coach and a team's fan base, Spurrier has become accustomed to it.
"It was a typical game I guess when we play a team that runs the triple option," said Spurrier. "They stayed on the field a while, but we stopped them at the end. I told our defensive guys that I was really proud of our defense for stopping them in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line."
--Redshirt freshman Nick Jones appeared to be the forgotten man during spring and fall practice. But, with USC coach desperately seeking a number two receiver to complement All-American Alshon Jeffery, Jones stepped up against Navy catching three passes for 52 yards. Senior Jason Barnes, who had been relegated to the bench after a sub-par performance in the season opener against East Carolina, also had a nice day with four receptions for 48 yards.
--South Carolina was forced to come from behind in the second half in its third-consecutive game. The Gamecocks trailed East Carolina 24-21 in the third quarter, Georgia 35-31 in the fourth quarter and Navy 17-14 in the fourth quarter before coming back to win. Their come-from-behind victory marks the first time Navy has squandered a lead heading into the fourth quarter under Ken Niumatalolo. In his four seasons as head coach at Navy, Niumatalolo was 24-0 when leading at the start of the fourth quarter prior.
--PK Jay Wooten has connected on a field goal of 45 or more yards in each of the last two games. After hitting a 49-yarder against Georgia last week, he drilled a 48-yard field goal at the end of the second quarter against Navy. South Carolina also did not attempt a punt against the Midshipmen. The last time that happened was against Wofford, also a triple option team on Sept. 20, 2008.
KEEP AN EYE ON: RT Rockevious Watkins -- Although the senior had was hit with two motion penalties against Navy, he continues to improve. The Gamecocks normally send running back Marcus Lattimore to his side when they are in need of crucial rushing yards and he almost always delivers. He has become an All-Southeastern Conference caliber player that appears destined to become a first day selection in the 2011 National Football League Draft.
LOOKING GOOD: Although it had its down moments during the first half, the defensive line was much more active in the second half in attempting to combat Navy's triple option attack. Freshman DE Jadeveon Clowney was particularly active. Although he did not record a sack he was particularly active in harassing Midshipman quarterback Kriss Proctor. Senior Melvin Ingram also continued to perform at a high level although junior Devin Taylor struggled with tackling after putting himself in position to make big stops.
STILL NEEDS WORK: Although the senior quarterback Stephen Garcia completed 18 of 25 passes for 204 yards, the USC passing attack continues to struggle in clutch situations. More receivers -- senior Jason Barnes and redshirt freshman Nick Jones -- stepped up in an attempt to take pressure off All-American Alshon Jeffery. While that was good, the team continues to struggle to get the ball to Jeffery who caught only two passes for 35 yards.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "If you look at Auburn last year, they came from behind several times. They did it against us as well. That's what we've been focusing on the whole offseason: playing well in the fourth quarter and getting out of there with a win. We're pretty happy we're 3-0 right now." -- South Carolina senior quarterback Stephen Garcia.
--SPUR Antonio Allen continues to impress as the leader of the USC defense. He not only led the Gamecocks with 10 tackles, but forced and came up with the game winning interception as Navy was driving late for a possible go-ahead touchdown. He has two touchdowns three forced fumbles and a fumble return for a touchdown in the Gamecocks first three games and leads the squad in tackles.
--WR Alshon Jeffery was held out for the opening play against Navy for what coach Steve Spurrier described as a violation of team rules. He caught only two passes for 35 yards. Through USC's first three games he has only 12 catches and has scored only one touchdown.
--PK Jay Wooten has been a pleasant surprise as the position was viewed as a question mark entering the season. After being in the capable hands of now graduate Spencer Lanning for three seasons, the Gamecocks allowed several athletes to battle for the spot and Wooten came out the winning. After hitting a key 49-yarder against Georgia, he drilled a 48-yard attempt against Navy. He is two-for-two in that department and has yet to miss an extra point.
--RB Marcus Lattimore continues to insert his name all over the USC record book. His 246 rushing yards against Navy is the fourth highest total in school history. He is number six in career touchdowns with 24, had his seventh career 100-yard rushing game and is the first running back in the SEC to rush for more than 200 yards in a game this season. His three touchdowns marked the fourth time has had four rushing touchdowns in a game. He now has 1,731 career rushing yards which ranks 19th on the school career list.
--LT Brandon Shell continues to have problems with his shoulder following surgery in the summer. Coach Steve Spurrier announced following the Navy game that the freshman will be redshirted.
--WR Alshon Jeffery was held out of the first play for breaking a team rule.
--WR Damiere Byrd will have to serve out the remainder of his four-game suspension by the NCAA after the appeal by USC was denied.
--CB Victor Hampton is now eligible to play after serving his three-game suspension. He should be in line to receive immediate playing time.