KERRI BROOKS: Any Given Saturday

There may be a reward for those die hard Kentucky football fans that make the trek to South Carolina this weekend. With one more week of experience under their belts, and an extra week to prepare, maybe it is time for the Wildcats to record their first SEC upset of the year. We have seen some powerhouse teams drop games this year that no one expected them to lose; and going into this Saturday's game as 13 point underdogs may be a hurdle the Wildcats can jump over.

As anyone who has attended a game in Williams-Brice stadium can testify, a huge key is going to be striking early and taking the crowd out of the game. That being said, with the Gamecocks rotating offensive line and gimpy quarterback situation, the hungry Cat defense could come up big. The Cocks have struggled with offensive run and pass blocking so far this season, and depending on the ankle sprain of starting QB, Blake Mitchell, they could have another tough offensive weekend.

If back up quarterback Antonio Heffner sees action, the Cocks will have to rely heavily on a struggling running game. Heffner has been having difficulty finding success in the passing game so far this year. With no stand outs in the tailback slot, Kentucky could find a way to shut down USC offensively. Look for freshman standout Braxton Kelley to only get better, and become one of Kentucky's great play makers.

We are coming into this game with a slight advantage in the rushing game; with an average of 100 yards per game versus their 74.4. We statistically rank better in rushing yards per attempt with UK leading with 3.4 to USC's 2.7. UK also has an edge in passing yards per attempt with UK at 12.9 versus USC at 12.2. Kentucky comes in averaging 26.8 points per game versus South Carolina's 21 points per game. I don't believe it matters how or when the points were scored, the Cats have had more success here.

After seeing some fresh performances in the second half of the Florida game, I believe it is safe to say that there is some talent on the Kentucky roster that has yet to reach potential. This could be the weekend we discover one of our new stand out players. We saw glimpses of what some of the lesser experienced players are capable of against Florida. It seems like the team might be finding ways to readjust to the ever changing line-up and find success.

Florida seemed to go after some of the inexperience we had in the secondary, but with the Gamecocks passing game struggling a bit, our secondary might not be challenged as strongly as in the Gator game.

The Cats special teams have been struggling with the punting game, so we look to hopefully move the ball offensively and not rely so heavily here. Our return units should continue to be an exciting part of the game with Draak Davis having continued success. With Kentucky special teams ranking seventh in the nation, and second in the SEC in kick off and punt returns, we should dominate South Carolina in this area.

Offensively for the Cats, with some better protection, Andre Woodson may have more success connecting with his new core of receivers. In order for a quarterback to be successful, he needs to have enough time in the pocket to make good decisions, and be successful with timing. Andre is a leader on the field, and has showed that he can remain composed even under repeated and constant pressure. Andre has a great arm, demonstrates great leadership, and possesses the talent to be successful for Kentucky.

Like a good football player, Andre Woodson is a student of the game. This will help him to learn from mistakes he has made, and help him find ways to be successful this weekend. He is smart, passionate, and very capable of leading the Wildcats to victory. With last weekend off to help heal his bruised and battered body, look for Andre to get back on track and lead the Wildcats to some exciting offensive drives. This will be key in controlling the time of possession so that our defense can remain fresh and effective.

Despite the perhaps lackluster showing in the first half of some games this year, I think the ability to come back out and be effective in the second half shows determination that surpasses that of last year's squad. It also reflects the ability of the coaching staff to make pertinent adjustments and changes at half time, and to find ways to execute with success in the second half. I also credit the coaching staff with the lack of penalties the Wildcats have had assessed against them this year. South Carolina comes into the game with 31 penalties for 205 yards. The Cats have had only 13 penalties for 109 yards, demonstrating good coaching and smart play.

There is a lot of drive and determination on this team. Let's hope this weekend they are able to taste the sweetest of victories as an underdog finding their first SEC win of the year, against a team we would love to beat. Any Given Saturday. Go Cats!

Kerri Brooks is a CBS camera operator with substantial college football and NFL experience. Her job takes her to venues throughout the country, and she is fortunate to have met and formed relationships with many football coaches, analysts, and other experts in the field. And yes, she is the proud daughter of UK head football coach Rich Brooks. Visit with "BrooksDaughter" on the KSR Premium messageboard, where she appears to talk football, answer questions, and just be another UK football fan.


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