Kentucky Wildcats Football: Quarterback Quandry Looms before South Carolina

Al Messerschmidt

The Kentucky Wildcats are going into their third game of their four-game death march and have a lot of questions at the quarterback position. I preview their game against South Carolina and a couple of other big match ups.

The Kentucky Wildcats lost their second straight home game of the season to another top 20 opponent. The offense was again stymied by an excellent defense and the only points were generated from a trick play on special teams.

While the fight and the enthusiasm were there, the Wildcats were overmatched and the quarterback situation seems to be hitting new lows. Mark Stoops voiced his displeasure in his quarterback play and in his team as a whole. He and his staff are still struggling to get some of their players to buy in and embrace a winning culture.

The Wildcats are in the third game of their four game death march. While the two previous games haven't been blowouts, they have been losses at home. Stoops and company now face a road test in one of the toughest environments in SEC country: Columbia, South Carolina.

Saturday, October 5th: Kentucky Wildcats (1-3, 0-1) at #13 South Carolina Gamecocks (3-1, 1-1)- 7:30 PM

Neal Brown and Mark Stoops desperately want Max Smith or Jalen Whitlow to take the starting quarterback position. Last week, Smith had some stellar practices but played poorly against Florida going 12-20 for 90 yards and an interception.

The staff then decided to give Jalen Whitlow most of the reps with the first team during practice but he had a rough go of it and the coaching staff is almost back to square one. The tandem of Whitlow and Smith had five touchdown passes between them combined in their four games. Something has got to give as the Air Raid offense is designed to keep the offensive speed at a maximum while getting the ball into the air as much as possible.

Patrick Towles isn't even in the conversation at the moment; so those of you that are clamoring for him had better turn your attention elsewhere.

The Kentucky offense has to figure something and quick. The Gamecocks do have a tough defense but they are giving up 25.3 points a game. The problem is that Kentucky is only averaging 21.8.

As for UK's defense, they are steadily improving. They held Florida to only three points in the second half but gave up a total of 246 rushing yards. Kentucky's secondary is proving tougher than we thought but the run defense is going to have their hands full with Mike Davis carrying the ball. The Gamecocks are averaging 224.8 yards a game.

I'm not expecting much on the road against the Ole Ball Coach. USC is a three touchdown favorite, and so far Vegas has been on the money when predicting Kentucky's spread this season.

South Carolina Gamecocks 35-Kentucky Wildcats 13

SEC Game of the Week: Saturday, October 5th: #10 LSU Tigers (4-1, 1-1) at Mississippi State Bulldogs (2-2, 0-1)- 7:00 PM on ESPN

The Tigers are looking to bounce back after a close loss on the road in Athens. LSU was bested by Georgia 44-41 in an instant classic. While LSU's defense looked bad against the Bulldogs -and what defense hasn't- the Tigers proved that their offense can hang with the best of them. Zach Mettenberger had the best game of his collegiate career going 23-37 for 372 yards and three TD's. Jeremy Hill added 86 yards of his own and a touchdown.

The Bulldogs of Mississippi State will have the biggest challenge of their short season ahead of them. Starville is a tough place to play with the sounds of jangling milk jugs echoing throughout the night sky, and their defense is only allowing 14.8 points a game. But the competition hasn't been that great. They lost to their two toughest opponents, Auburn and Oklahoma State, while beating up on Troy and Alcorn State. LSU is a different animal altogether and I have my doubts about MSU's defense hanging with the Tigers.

LSU Tigers 27- Mississippi State Bulldogs 17

National Game of the Week: Saturday, October 5th: #4 Ohio State Buckeyes (5-0, 1-0) at #16 Northwestern Wildcats (4-0, 0-0)-  8:00 PM on ABC

This isn't a traditional Big 10 rivalry. The Wildcats are normally a conference doormat while the Buckeyes are a perennial power. But things have changed and Northwestern is on an upswing. Thus far they have run the table against California, Syracuse, Western Michigan, and Maine; but they have yet to play a conference game or a ranked team. Running back Treyvon Green is the real deal, having racked up 404 yards and five touchdowns already on the season. The Wildcats are 18th in the country in rushing yards.

The Buckeyes finally got a test from Wisconsin last week in Columbus but won by a touchdown. Braxton Miller reclaimed his starting job last week and put in a nice effort throwing for 198 yards and throwing four TD's. He also showcased his legs by running for 83 yards as well. Urban Meyers' team is run heavy, averaging 287 yards a game. OSU has well balanced offense and has great skill players that can devastate a defense. They have yet to score under 30 points and I don't think the Northwestern defense will be up to the task of being the first team to claim that honor.

Ohio State Buckeyes 38-Northwestern Wildcats 24

Last Week: I went 1-2 by picking the ‘Cats to upset the Gators and by picking LSU to win on the road. I did correctly pick the Tide to roll on the Rebels. So far I am 7-5 on the season.

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