Scout.com/Jeff Drummond

Everything you need to know about Kentucky Wildcats' matchup with South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday.

This AllWildcats.com feature gives you everything you need to know about the Kentucky Wildcats' matchup with the South Carolina Gamecocks today in Columbia, S.C.

KENTUCKY vs. SOUTH CAROLINA

WHEN: SATURDAY, SEPT. 12, 7:30 P.M. ET

WHERE: WILLIAMS BRICE STADIUM (80,250) COLUMBIA, S.C.

TV: SEC NETWORK

 

KENTUCKY WILDCATS

Record: 1-0, 0-0 SEC

Ranking: Unranked

Coach: Mark Stoops (Iowa, 1989)

Record: 8-17 (Third season), at UK: 8-17 (Third season), vs. SC: 1-1

Series Record vs. South Carolina: Overall: SC leads 17-8-1

Previoius Game: UK 40, UL-Lafayette 33

Next Game: 9/19 vs. Florida

 

SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS

Record: 1-0, 0-0 SEC

Ranking: Unranked

Coach: Steve Spurrier (Florida, 1967)

Record: 227-85-2 (26th season); 85-45 at SC (11th season); 20-2 vs. UK

Previous Game: SC 17, North Carolina 13

Next Game: 9/19 at Georgia

BIG BLUE KEYS TO THE GAME:

When Kentucky has the ball The Cats have to establish the line of scrimmage and sustain drives with their running game better than they did last week against UL-Lafayette. UK rushed for almost 200 yards, but 75 of those came on the first play of the game when Boom Williams raced for a touchdown. He only got nine more touches the rest of the game. The Cats only had 60 snaps as a team on a feast-or-famine night, which left the defense on the field for 88 ULL snaps. A similar scenario against South Carolina would be disastrous. UK junior quarterback Patrick Towles (16-34, 257 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT) is looking to improve his accuracy this week after missing several big opportunities against ULL. He must be aware of an opportunistic Gamecock defense that gave up 440 yards to North Carolina last week, but picked off three passes. Junior linebacker Skai Moore (No. 10, 6-2, 218) had two interceptions in the red zone last week to steal the game from the Tar Heels. Intriguing question of the day: Do we see any Jojo Kemp and the “Wildcat” package? Last year, UK rallied in the second half on the strength of Kemp’s 131-yard, three-touchdown performance.

When South Carolina has the ball Kentucky has to do a better job against the run for all four quarters than it did in the season opener. The Cats were solid through the first half, but showed signs of fatigue as the game pushed into the fourth quarter. Mental blunders and blown assignments ensued as the Ragin’ Cajuns capitalized with a handful of big plays to get back in the game. D.J. Eliot’s unit is once again expected to be without a pair of starting linebackers (injured Ryan Flannigan and suspended Jason Hatcher) so young backups like Jordan Jones, Nico Firios and Josh Allen are expected to be tested early and often by “The Ol’ Ball Coach.” Historically, no one finds and repeatedly exploits weaknesses on a defense like Spurrier. The return of senior defensive tackle Cory Johnson from a one-game suspension could give the UK pass rush a boost this week. South Carolina quarterback Connor Mitch struggled last week against North Carolina, completing only nine of his 22 attetmps, so UK could face a good dose of “Wildcat” formation today. The Gamecocks feature one of the most versatile players in the country in Randall Cobb-clone Pharoh Cooper (No. 11, 5-11, 207). He’ll do a little bit of everything today, and the Cats must be aware of where he’s lining up on every snap.

MILESTONE WATCH:

Patrick Towles needs 173 yards passing to move ahead of Dusty Bonner for 10th place on UK’s all-time leaderboard… Ryan Timmons needs 90 yards receiving to become the 25th player in program history to reach the 1,000-yard plateau… Jojo Kemp needs 161 yards rushing to become the 34th player in program history to reach the 1,000-yard mark.

ON THIS DAY IN UK HISTORY:

Kentucky is 2-2 all-time on Sept. 12. The Cats last played on this date in 1998, rolling to a 52-7 win over Eastern Kentucky as Tim Couch threw for 372 yards and five touchdowns, tying Babe Parilli (1949-51) for the most TD passes in school history. He also tied his own school record with 13 consecutive pass completions.

NOTES:

  • Kentucky is seeking its first road win of the Mark Stoops era. The Cats are 0-10 away from home under the third-year head coach.
  • The Cats have not won in Columbia since 1999, a game in which the Cats forced four turnovers and saw quarterback Dusty Bonner connect with tight end James Whalen nine times for 119 yards.
  • UK started four freshmen last week in the opener (RT George Asafo-Adjei, TE C.J. Conrad, DE/LB Denzil Ware and CB Chris Westry). Each is listed as a starter again this week on UK’s two-deep depth chart.
  • Sophomore running back Boom Williams recorded his fourth touchdown run of 50 yards or longer in his young career last week against UL-Lafayette.
  • Five different players scored touchdowns for UK last week: Williams, Mikel Horton, Garrett Johnson, Blake Bone and Jeff Badet.
  • South Carolina is 10-13 all-time in SEC openers.
  • Steve Spurrier's teams have scored 30 or more points in 17 of his 22 games coached against UK.


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