Kentucky Wildcats 28 @ South Carolina Gamecocks 35:  Postmortem

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky gave the Gamecocks a game, which they were NOT expecting.

Well, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, that was, despite the final score, what Kentucky fans have been looking for now for quite some time — a competitive football team. No, we didn't win, and honestly, we really weren't all that close to winning. But somewhat to my surprise, we were genuinely competitive after the first quarter, after the South Carolina Gamecocks racked up 21 points to Kentucky's 0.

Congratulations to the Gamecocks for a noble victory. We have to be honest and say that they were clearly the superior team. Connor Shaw was much too much for the defense, and rightly so. In the pre-game Q&A, I pointed out that he would have been my first pick among USC players for the Wildcats, even over Jadeveon Clowney, who did not manage to play today due to a bruise on his ribs. No doubt, that helped us more than is immediately obvious. In the end, though, this was one of Hoboat's moral victories.

The good

  • Man, I loved how we competed. We didn't compete early, I suppose overwhelmed by the crowd and the moment. But after the Wildcats got over that, they showed us how you compete as a big underdog.

  • Jalen Whitlow was terrific. Yes, I have recommended Maxwell Smith be the QB and Whitlow go to wide receiver, but I'm willing to say that I was wrong about that based on this performance.

  • With the above said, we don't run the Air Raid offense. What we ran tonight was essentially the Urban Meyer spread/read option. If Whitlow didn't remind you of Tim Tebow in performance, if not in style, then you need to go back and review some Florida games from the Meyer era.

  • Jojo Kemp is a stud, and I love what he brings. What will be really cool next year is the battle between him and Braylon Heard for the #1 running back spot. Don't even begin to think that Kemp is the favorite, or I'll mock you. Heard is a genuine badass.

  • Jordan Aumiller had the game of his life. It was stellar.

  • Jason Hatcher had a terrific game in relief of Bud Dupree, despite making a couple of freshman errors that cost us huge. Forget that, he'll get better quickly.

  • Special Teams!!!! Bradley Dale Peveto is a freaking genius.

  • We won the turnover battle, and it really mattered. What was interesting is exactly what I suggested — that it happened because the Gamecocks did not respect us. They respect us now.

  • Mark Stoops showed a lot of pluck, and rightly so. The 12-man penalty in the 4th quarter was transparently wrong. I loved that Stoops was having none of it.

  • The fake screen that got UK their last touchdown was brilliant. Great job, Neal Brown. Great catch, Ryan Timmons.

  • I thought overall, the secondary played a very good game. Yes, they got burned a couple of times, but given their talent level, I thought they were damn solid.

The bad

  • The defensive line played like crap. They couldn't get off blocks, and they didn't tackle.

  • What exactly is it about "containment" that our defensive ends do not understand?

  • Jalen Whitlow missed way too many easy, open throws. I'll give in to him being the QB, even though I still think that's a mistake, but he has to learn to make the easy plays.

  • Honestly, Mark Stoops was outcoached. But also honestly, a lot of coaches are outcoached by Steve Spurrier.

  • Tackling was again an issue, and a bad one. But not as bad. A negative, but a minor one.

  • Make the easy plays, guys. Too many easy plays were missed on both sides of the ball.

Honestly, I am not the least bit disappointed losing this game. South Carolina is a top 15 team, and we came into their house and made them work for the victory. At this point, with the lack of depth that Kentucky has at most positions, I'll take that.

Next week, the Crimson Tide of Alabama comes to Lexington. If Kentucky can manage to give them a bit of trouble even in a losing cause, the whole world will stand up and take notice.

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