This Saturday will see the Kentucky Wildcats taking the field in unfamiliar territory.
They will be the ranked team (#17) going up against an unranked opponent whom they hold a four-year winning streak over when the South Carolina Gamecocks come to Kroger Field.
Safety Mike Edwards talked about being the team on the right side of a streak going into the matchup with the Gamecocks.
“It feels good, but we’re not going to worry about the streaks or how many times we beat them. It’s a new year, a new Kentucky team and a new South Carolina team.”
It sure is a new Kentucky team.
Kentucky’s defense is ranked 11th overall in the country and has only given up 279.5 yards a game.
Defensive coordinator Matt House is happy with the great start to the season, but he also knows it will take a lot of work to keep it up for eight more games.
“I think we’ve gotten better every week, and the test is to continue to do that. That’s what the great teams do.
The Cats will be going up against the 35th-ranked offense in the country on Saturday. The Gamecocks have managed 475.7 yards per game in their 2-1 start to the season.
Junior quarterback Jake Bentley leads the Gamecocks. Thus far in 2018, Bentley has 780 passing yards and six touchdowns.
Bentley will be making his second career start against the Wildcats. He is 0-1 after completing 24/36 passes for 304 yards, two touchdowns and two picks in South Carolina’s 23-13 loss to the Wildcats in Columbia last season.
Linebacker Kash Daniel broke down Bentley’s game.
“He’s an explosive player. He can make plays with his arm. He can make plays with his feet. He’s a dynamic quarterback, not only one dimensional, so we’ve got our hands full.”
The key position group for the Gamecocks is wide receiver. Deebo Samuel, who suffered a season-ending injury against the Cats, is back and as good as ever.
House says Samuel maybe even better than before the injury.
“He’s the same explosive guy you saw last year. I think he’s come back and maybe even playing more consistently.
The Gamecocks also have Bryan Edwards, who leads the team in receiving yards this season with 214 along with three touchdowns.
Senior cornerback Derrick Baity sees the Gamecock duo as one of the best in the SEC.
“They are two of the best receivers we’re going to go against outside of the Florida receivers.”
As for how to shut down the duo, defensive backs coach Steve Clinkscale is keeping it simple.
“We have to keep our minds right, our eyes right, be fast and make plays on the ball.”
The biggest challenge for the Kentucky defense will be South Carolina’s new fast-pace offense. For pass-rushing terror Josh Allen, it’s not something he’s exactly looking forward to.
“No, you get tired quick, but it is what it is.”
As to how to best stop the fast pace Allen also kept it simple.
“Get lined up, get to the ball, stop them on first down, stop them on second down, and then get them to third and long and rush the passer.”
The Kentucky defense is excited to play in front of their home crowd again. Not many Kentucky fans saw a louder Kroger Field than last Saturday night, but Allen feels the stadium can be even louder.
“We’re not going to have rain, so people can be more a little more enthusiastic.”
The Kentucky defense will look to hold down another solid opponent and help guide the Cats to a 5-0 record.