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Kentucky Football Report Card: South Carolina

Grading all three phases of Kentucky’s win over South Carolina.

Jason Marcum - Sea of Blue

Kentucky is 5-0 for the first time since 1984, but how well is the team actually playing?

Here are their game grades from Saturday night’s win over South Carolina.

Offense: B

David Pollack said on College GameDay that the only hole in Kentucky’s gameplay was their quarterback play. Back in training camp, Terry Wilson showed Kentucky’s coaching staff that he had what it takes to be the starter and has yet to falter to a loss while wearing Kentucky blue.

However, he hasn’t exactly lit up the opposition in his five outings.

Wilson did toss two touchdown passes at Florida but besides their cakewalk over Murray State, he’s turned it over at least once in every game.

While backup quarterback Gunnar Hoak has shown flashes in limited opportunities, Wilson should have a pretty good hold on the job. His ability too run and extend plays is helping keep defenses from focusing solely on Benny Snell.

Still, Kentucky will need stellar QB play from Wilson in their matchup with the Texas A&M Aggies.

What the Wildcats do have, though, is arguably the best rushing attack in the SEC.

Snell is a bell cow, and Wilson’s ability to cut outside and move the chains has been crucial to their attack. Throw in AJ Rose receiving snaps to spell Snell, and he only bullies the opposing defense even more.

Kentucky’s offensive line has consistently been dominant and physical up front, and they’ll need to sustain that next week at College Station.

The receivers have consistently made plays when give chances, though those can be limited with Wilson not throwing much (has attempted 20 or fewer passes in four of five games this year). Dorian Baker and Isaiah Epps stepped up and made big catches against South Carolina.

Defense: A-

Kash Daniel’s targeting penalty not only had him ejected from Saturday’s outing but also will hold him from the second half of Kentucky’s game next Saturday against the Aggies.

Losing Daniel for the first is rough, as Kentucky will need young talent like DeAndre Square Chris Oats to step up in his place. Those two have flashed potential since fall camp, but they’ll have a much bigger role for at least a half at A&M.

Fellow linebackers Josh Allen and Jordan Jones continued their stellar play in Saturday’s win, as Allen logged three sacks, eight tackles and a forced fumble while Jones was tremendous in pass coverage with five tackles and a forced fumble as well.

All three of Darius West, Derrick Baity and Mike Edwards each logged an interception as Kentucky held South Carolina (outside of a 58-yard busted touchdown) to just 90 yards passing. The Wildcats also shut down the run, not allowing a player to rush for more than 44 yards.

The defensive line doesn’t get a lot of credit, but they’re consistently holding their gaps and now allowing offensive lineman to get to the second level and get a hat on the linebackers. From top to bottom, there’s no question this is the most complete defense that Mark Stoops has had in Lexington, and it’s a big reason why Kentucky goes into October without a loss.

The Wildcats will have to start a hostile road game without their leader in the middle but the team’s strongest unit should be able to hold for the first half.

Special Teams: B-

Place kicker Miles Butler made his first but missed yet another field goal this week. He’s now 3/5 on the year despite connecting on all of his extra point attempts.

Max Duffy continued his dominant punting to start the year, averaging 47.5 yards per boot.

As far as controlling field position, Butler’s inconsistency outside of 40 yards will likely have Stoops weary of how to operate in a significant part of the field.

According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, the Wildcats will enter next Saturday’s game as significant underdogs. They’ll need to click in all three phases in order to remain undefeated.