The Cats jumped out early on the Gamecocks, but were absolutely dominated in the second half en route to the loss. Let’s take a look at how they fared in each of the five keys to the game.
Avoid the slow start
The Cats were unable to end their first quarter offensive touchdown drought, but you still couldn’t have really asked for a better start. It looked like it was going to be an awful start when Maxwell Smith went down on the second play of the game. But, for the second strait game the defense came out with a lot of intensity and the offense really rallied around true freshman Jalen Whitlow.
After stopping the Gamecocks on fourth-and-goal at the one yard line, Whitlow and the ‘Cats marched strait down the field. They went nearly 90 yards before settling for a Craig McIntosh field goal and a 3-0 lead. Early in the second quarter South Carolina punched it when Conner Shaw found Ace Sanders for a touchdown to take a 7-3 lead. UK answered with a Jalen Whitlow touchdown, a blocked punt, a Raymond Sanders touchdown, a botched snap on fourth-and-one that gave them the ball at the 10-yard line with a minute to go. Kentucky botched the clock and Whitlow eventually was sacked to end the half with no extra points.
Still, UK was up 17-7 at half over South Carolina. You had to be happy with that.
Keep Maxwell Smith upright
Epic fail. Maxwell Smith was knocked out of the game with an ankle injury on the second play. Overall, the Cats were sacked seven times by one of the most gifted and difficult lines to defend in the country. A lot of that credit belongs to South Carolina, just because they are so damn good, but Whitlow will also learn to get rid of the ball faster with time.
Contain Marcus Lattimore
In the first half Lattimore ran the ball five times for 12 yards. Kentucky deserves a lot of credit for that, but Steve Spurrier also deserves some blame for only giving his workhorse back five touches. In the second half you could easily tell that Spurrier’s focus was to get Lattimore involved more and to get the ground game going. They did just that. Lattimore finished with 120 yards on 23 carries and two touchdowns. Shaw added 96 rushing yards of his own, while Kenny Miles added a rushing touchdown. The Gamecocks dominated the game on the ground in the second half.
Win the takeaway battle
The Cats had one takeaway, which was the huge botched snap on a fourth-and-one that they couldn’t take advantage of. In the second half, Whitlow threw two interceptions which really halted any chance for UK to regain momentum. When a team is running the ball down your throat and controlling the lock like the ‘Cocks were in the second half, you can’t give the ball up like they did. Once again, Whitlow will learn from these mistakes.
For the second strait game, I loved the energy on the defense to start the game. This time with UK showing an ability to move the ball, you didn’t see them quit like they did at Florida. Still, you have to figure out a way to play a full 60 minutes. Something they have not been able to do all year.
Filed Under: Football
About the Author: