It doesn’t get any easier for the Kentucky Wildcats as they now must face the undefeated South Carolina Gamecocks. After defeating Vanderbilt 17-13 in underwhelming fashion in their season opener, the Cocks have rolled in their last three games, including an easy 31-10 victory over Missouri last Saturday.
Steve Spurrier’s team is no ranked No. 6 in all the land and many expect the Gamecocks to battle Alabama in the SEC title game in early December.
To force Spurrier into being a run-first, throw-second type of coach you have to have a pretty damn good tailback and the Cocks have just that in junior Marcus Lattimore (6-0, 218). Many believe Lattimore to be the best running back in the country and he has bounced right back after suffering a season-ending knee injury last season.
Lattimore burst onto the scene as a true freshman when he had nearly 1,200 yards and 17 TD. He also caught 29 balls for over 400 yards. Last year he had 818 yards and ten touchdowns in just seven games.
In four games this season, he has 320 yards on 69 attempts to go with six touchdowns.
He is a big back that uses his power to get through the first line and then has the acceleration to get through the second level. He has great vision and is a patient back that waits for holes to develop. The kid is good. UK fans are familiar with his importance. Remember, it was his injury that set up the Wildcats’ upset win in 2010. Lattimore dominated the first half, but once he went out the game changed completely.
Under center for the Gamecocks is junior Connor Shaw (6-1, 207). The first thing that comes to mind when watching Shaw play this year is increased toughness. And that is exactly what Spurrier needs at quarterback with Lattimore carrying the load.
Shaw has been extremely accurate this season, completing 35-of-46 passes for 423 yards. He has thrown three touchdowns and two interceptions. He makes throws when they need him to make throws and lets Lattimore do what he does. He is the leader of this team.
Making up for the loss of Alshon Jeffery is a plethora of wideouts. Sophomore Damiere Byrd (5-9, 168) is their leading receiver with seven catches for 214 yards, including a 94 yard touchdown reception. The starting point guard on the basketball team, sophomore Bruce Ellington (5-9, 197), focused on football and it has shown on the field. He has ten catches for 178 yards. Also, look out for junior Ace Sanders (5-8, 175), who has eight catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns. He is also a threat in the return game.
All of their wideouts are undersized, but incredibly quick and shifty. They have the ability to go over the middle to make plays, but can also be you down the sideline deep on a fly pattern.
On defense, the Gamecocks use their “rabbit defense” which features defensive ends across the entire line. This defense has caused problems for opposing offenses all season long. Four guys on the line that are so big and so quick is just tough to defend. Their d-line is led by sophomore Jadeveon Clowney (6-6, 256) and senior Devin Taylor (6-8, 267). Clowney and Taylor often require attention for more than one offensive player, which opens the door for their other talented ends.
South Carolina is second in the SEC with 15 sacks. Clowney leads the team with 4 1-2 sacks. Offenses are converting on third down less than 25-percent of the time (14 of 59). This defense is good.
Filed Under: Football
About the Author: