The Cats are off to a great start for this season. The Wildcats have jumped out to a 2-0 start on the season, with wins over Eastern Kentucky and Southern Miss.
Mark Stoops and his now older and wiser Cats are traveling to South Carolina this Saturday to take on the Gamecocks in what has been announced as a sellout at Williams-Brice Stadium.
The Cats are a 6-point underdog going into Saturday night's game. If they are going to upset the Gamecocks in Columbia, here are five keys to doing so:
1. Linebacker core has to step up.
The UK linebackers will have their hands full with weak side linebacker Jordan Jones out for the game with a shoulder injury. Eli Brown has been named the starter in place of Jones.
Jones led the Cats in tackles last season with 109 and has played pretty well in the first two games of the season as well this season. Brown, love, and even players like Kash Daniel will have to step up big time for the Cats to bring a W back to the commonwealth.
2. Put pressure on Jake Bentley.
The sophomore quarterback is off to a good start to the season, throwing for 402 yards, with 4 touchdowns and only 1 interception. Bentley has also completed 35 of his 57 passes with a percentage of 61.4 percent.
The D-Line will need to play very well for the Cats to get the win. Pringle will have to get pressure up the middle, while Ware and Paschal get pressure on the edge as well as Josh Allen.
3. Get Benny Snell going early and often.
Benny Snell had a good game last week against EKU finally rushing for over 100 yards with 103 yards on the ground with 1 touchdown.
The offensive line had plenty of struggles, especially from the center position with all the bad snaps and getting pressure up the middle. If the Cats are going to win this weekend in Columbia, they have to have production from the offensive line and Benny Snell.
4. Get C.J. Conrad involved.
The 6-5 junior tight end has had a very good year so far this season, catching 5 passes for 125 yards, as well as 2 touchdowns.
Stephen Johnson has managed to finally have that relationship we have been waiting for and Johnson is finally able to hit Conrad in stride down the middle. Last season Conrad started in 11 of 13 games for the Cats, bringing in 19 catches for 262 yards. Conrad also had his career high game against New Mexico State, when we saw Johnson for the first time as well. Coincidence? Conrad will have to have another big game for the cats to bring home the W.
5. Win on 3rd down
Through the first two games of the season, UK has only converted on 23.8 percent of their 3rd down plays. On the plus side, the opponents have only converted 23.5 percent of the time, so that’s good.
The Cats need to step up this game, because South Carolina only gives up 3rd down conversions 31 percent of the time and they convert on third down over 36 percent of the time, which places them in the top 30 in the country for third down conversions.
The Wildcats will definitely have their hands full Saturday night in Columbia, but as long as they do these five things, I truly believe they can upset the Gamecocks and come back to the Commonwealth with a W.
Kentucky 31 South Carolina 28