Cats Meet No. 6 South Carolina in SEC Home Opener
Sept. 27, 2012
After opening its Southeastern Conference schedule last weekend at Florida, the University of Kentucky football team returns home for a two-game homestand this weekend when it faces No. 6 South Carolina on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET at Commonwealth Stadium. The game will mark the SEC home opener for Kentucky.
Kentucky is coming off a 38-0 loss at the hands of the No. 14-ranked Gators. The Wildcats are in a stretch of three consecutive games against ranked foes, battling No. 6 South Carolina this weekend and hosting No. 19/21 Mississippi State next weekend.
The Wildcats, who were without starting quarterback Maxwell Smith due to a shoulder injury, were led by a solid rushing effort from juniors Jonathan George and Raymond Sanders. George rushed 13 times for 52 yards, while Sanders carried the ball 10 times for 48 yards. Senior wide receiver La'Rod King led the team in receiving with three catches for 13 yards. Smith ranks in the top-10 nationally in completions and passing yards per game.
Defensively, Martavius Neloms made an interception in the endzone and Collins Ukwu blocked a field goal against Florida. Avery Williamson leads the team in tackles this season with 41, while sophomore Alvin "Bud" Dupree is second with 32 tackles, five tackles-for-loss and two sacks.
Cat Scratches: Wildcats set to take on South Carolina's fearsome front four
Players with the kind of size, speed and strength of Jadeveon Clowney (a 6-foot-6, 256-pound sophomore) and Devin Taylor (a 6-foot-8, 267-pound senior) don't grow on trees, but South Carolina has managed to collect a pair of them, meaning Kentucky will have to find a way to cope with both, as well as the rest of South Carolina's deep and talented defensive line that ranks among the nation's leaders in sacks.
In fact, the Gamecocks are registering nearly as many sacks per game (3.75) as the Kentucky offensive line has allowed all season (four). UK protected well against a strong Florida defensive front, as Morgan Newton and Jalen Whitlow were basically untouched in 27 combined pass attempts last week. However, the sixth-ranked Gamecocks - led by Clowney, whom many believe is the future No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick, with 4.5 sacks - are a different level of competition in the trenches... read the full preview
Scouting South Carolina
South Carolina enters Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday with an unblemished 4-0 record, having already won two Southeastern Conference games. USC started the year with a 17-13 win at Vanderbilt before starting a three-game homestretch where it defeated East Carolina, UAB and Missouri.
The Gamecocks have been impressively defensively, not allowing an opponent to score more than 13 points this season. Nationally, South Carolina ranks fifth in scoring defense (9.75), eighth in rushing defense (67.0), 19th in total defense (300.25) and seventh in sacks (3.75). Sophomore defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney ranks tied for 17th nationally in sacks (4.5) and tackles-for-loss (7.0), while overall 16 USC players have recorded a tackle-for-loss this season and eight players have sacks. Senior linebacker Shaq Wilson leads the team in tackles with 25 and interceptions with two.
Offensively, the Gamecocks rank 31st nationally in scoring offense averaging 36.25 points while game while also sitting 41st in passing offense (259.50), 55th in total offense (424.25) and 63rd in rushing offense (164.75). Quarterback Connor Shaw leads the team in passing, completing 76.1 per-cent of his passes (35-for-46) for 423 yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore wide receiver Damiere Byrd leads the team in receiving yards with seven catches for 214 yards and a touchdown, while junior tailback Marcus Lattimore paces the team in receptions with 13. Lattimore also leads the team in rushing with 69 attempts for 320 yards and six touchdowns.