It’s a near certainty that after huge performances from Snell and Allen last week mean the Gamecocks will have a gameplan to try to limit their impact this week, so here are three players to keep an eye on Saturday night.
Boogie Watson says there will be no end of half Hail Mary. pic.twitter.com/HoK47zo9pQ— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) September 23, 2018
1. Boogie Watson
Watson showed his ability to get to the quarterback last week against Mississippi State, and with a week for South Carolina to prepare for slowing down Josh Allen after terrorizing Nick Fitzgerald last week, Watson should have his share of opportunities to put pressure on Gamecocks QB Jake Bentley.
South Carolina’s quick passing attack will limit pressure that the Wildcats can get on Bentley, but they will take multiple shots down the field and in those scenarios, Watson will be a big part of the pass rush, forcing Bentley into an errant throw or getting a sack.
Look for Watson to record another sack this week and a couple of QB hurries.
2. Derrick Baity
Kentucky’s secondary really hasn’t been tested this year. All four of Kentucky’s opponents this year have had significant flaws in their passing attack and it showed when they faced the Wildcats.
Does that mean Kentucky doesn’t have a talented secondary? Absolutely not. Kentucky has a lot of experience, talent, and depth in the secondary, but the best quarterbacks Kentucky has faced this year are Nick Fitzgerald and Feleipe Franks, neither of which are known as prolific passers.
Jake Bentley is a step up from those players. He had a solid freshman season, but kind of dropped off last year as a sophomore. This season, through three games, Bentley is completing about 68 percent of his passes, with six touchdowns and three interceptions.
Baity will probably be matched up with Deebo Samuel for the majority of the game, who leads the Gamecocks with 20 receptions for 145 yards and a touchdown. Samuel, of course, had a 68-yard touchdown catch to start the game last season, so Baity will have a big assignment on his hand.
Really, the whole secondary will have a major challenge on Saturday. Baity vs. Samuel will be one to watch though.
3. Dorian Baker
South Carolina is going to key in on the run game, and try to force Kentucky to win throwing the ball or with someone beside Benny Snell running. This could be a big game for Terry Wilson, but a couple receivers need to step up too to provide more weapons for the offense.
Enter Dorian Baker.
Baker had a big-time catch on the sideline against Mississippi State that led to a Kentucky touchdown, and hopefully he can build off that and turn in a solid performance on Saturday as a reliable weapon for Wilson. Baker has struggled to really get going so far this season, but his big-play ability is evident and Kentucky will likely need a few big plays in the passing game to come away with a victory.