The Kentucky Wildcats defeated the South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday with a score of 24-10 to move to 5-0 on the season. The Wildcats got off to a hot start and led 24-3 at the half before grinding out the second half to hang on for victory.
The second half of the game was not very pretty, but Kentucky still beat an SEC opponent by 2 touchdowns when they were the underdog going into the game.
This was a very eventful game, but here are four things you need to know.
Penalties plagued the Wildcats in the first quarter and really bogged down the offense in the second half. After Jordan Jones caused and recovered a fumble on the South Carolina 7-yard line in the first quarter, back to back false starts led to the Wildcats settling for a field goal.
On the subsequent Gamecocks drive, Kentucky had a 15-yard personal foul penalty that pushed South Carolina to mid-field before the Wildcats defense held them for just 3 points.
In the second drive of the second half, an off the ball chop-block pushed the Cats back into punting territory. After a scoreless third quarter, a strong drive was killed by back to back holding and illegal hands to the face calls.
Kentucky has had a few penalties go the other way this season, but in such a big game like this any of these calls could have been deflating enough to hurt them late.
For the fifth week in a row, Kentucky was physically dominant on the defensive side of the ball. The defensive line was impressive throughout, grabbing 7 tackles for loss with 4 sacks (3 by Josh Allen) in addition to helping pressure Jake Bentley into throwing 3 interceptions.
The defense only gave up 10 points despite being on the field for a great deal of the second half due to a stalled Kentucky offense. The lone touchdown scored by South Carolina was the first the Wildcats have given up in the 3rd quarter this season.
And while he was erroneously ejected for it, Kash Daniel killed a guy with a block on an interception. This is such a physical team.
This is a big deal. Thankfully, the Daniel ejection didn’t cost Kentucky in this game, but it may next week when he misses the first half of next week’s game against Texas A&M. The Aggies have a very strong ground game and will prove to be a major test for Kentucky’s front seven, who will be without their starting middle linebacker for the first two quarters.
Although Benny Snell was still the key to Kentucky’s offense, Eddie Gran opened up the playbook a little in the first half this week. Six different players caught passes (7 were targeted), and there were variations off of plays Kentucky had run every week until now.
With weapons like Snell, Lynn Bowden, CJ Conrad, and Terry Wilson there is virtually no end to what this offense can do. It looks like we will continue to see wrinkles week in and week out that will hopefully continue to open things up for Benny Snell.
Granted, Gran took the air out of the ball a bit in the second half to run the clock with a large lead. But if the offensive fireworks we saw in the first half are any indication, this is going to be a fun offense to watch.
Now, let’s celebrate and chat!