The Kentucky Wildcats made the trip to face the South Carolina Gamecocks and were looking to beat them for the 6th straight year.
The game got off to a horrible start, as USC took their first possession 75-yards in 11 plays to put the Cats behind 7-0 quick.
Like last week, the Cats’ first offensive possession resulted in an interception on a pass that was thrown right to the USC defender.
Luckily, the defense was able to hold USC for much of the half, despite a ton of missed tackles and chunk plays given up.
With just under 12 minutes left in the half, USC was able to get into FG range and make the 26-yard attempt to make the lead 10-0.
The Kentucky offense was horrible the entire half to say the least and only put up 78-yards of total offense, as they went into the locker room trailing 10-0.
The second half was just as bad offensively as the first for the Cats.
Kentucky received the second half kickoff and fumbled on that possession. That turnover led to a USC TD making it 17-0.
The Kentucky offense would have to punt 4 times and turned it over on downs once before the Gamecocks were able to find the endzone again making it 24-0.
One more possession ended in a punt before Stoops put in Lynn Bowden at QB.
On that drive, Bowden led a 5-play 84-yard TD drive to finally get the Cats on the board, 24-7.
USC would run out the rest of the clock and the Cats win streak against the Gamecocks is snapped in a 24-7 loss.
Thoughts on the game
The offense was brutal
We all knew that Sawyer Smith was banged up after last week, and it was evident that he wasn’t 100% in this one.
Smith was 11/32 for 90-yards and 1 INT. You could tell he was hurt because a lot of his throws were way off the mark, and he didn’t have the same throw power that we had seen in the first two games.
The Cats only managed 115-yards on the ground and 97-yards passing. That is not a recipe for a win.
The Cats were 2/15 on 3rd down and converting on 3rd down has been a major issue the last two weeks as they have only converted 3 times.
The O-Line was dominated
One of the more shocking things that happened in this one was the fact that Kentucky’s offensive line was dominated by the Gamecocks’ D-Line.
The first weeks of the season saw the veteran O-line be viewed as one of the top-3 in the SEC.
That was not the case in this one as USC was constantly in the backfield and running lanes were never created.
I’m not sure what has been the problem with that unit the last two weeks, but they need to figure it out and get back in their groove.
Turnovers are a major issue
Smith has turned the ball over on the first possession in each of his 3 starts as a Cat as he threw an INT on the opening drive in this one.
This trend can’t continue going forward or else it will be hard for the Cats to win many games.
The offense is already having a lot of problems, and the turnovers are just piling on top of that. Thankfully, these are correctable issues that can be fixed during the next two weeks before Kentucky faces Arkansas.
One bright spot
Even though they had a ton of missed tackles, I want to give the defense some credit.
They were forced to be on the field A LOT in this one as the Cats went three and out on multiple drives and they did a good job of keeping the Gamecocks out of the end zone.
Despite being on the field for 34 minutes they did a pretty good job of keeping us in it. The problem was the offense couldn’t move the ball.
They were put in a lot of tough situations without much rest and did a good job managing that.
Also, defensive lineman Calvin Taylor had another strong outing, as he continues to have a breakout senior season. He’s been one of the biggest bright spots on this roster, and it’s good to see he’s making the most out of his last season of college football.
The Cats will have a BYE week and it is a much-needed week off as they look to regroup and get ready to get back on the winning side of things.
Now, here are the postgame notes via UK Athletics:
Team Records and Series Information
- Kentucky is 2-3, 0-3 in the Southeastern Conference. South Carolina is 2-3, 1-2 in the league.
- South Carolina leads the series, 18-12-1, ending UK’s five-game winning streak in the series.
- Next for Kentucky: the Wildcats have an open date next Saturday before returning to action Oct. 12 at home vs. Arkansas.
- UK’s game captains: OG Logan Stenberg, LB Kash Daniel, LB Josh Paschal and athlete Lynn Bowden Jr.
- Junior athlete Lynn Bowden Jr. caught three passes for 18 yards.
- Now has 114 career receptions, moving past Ryan Timmons and Quentin McCord for 13th place on the UK career list.
- Has caught a pass in 19 consecutive games.
- Bowden also rushed six times for 44 yards, including a 26-yard run that set up UK’s TD.
- Bowden completed 2-of-2 passes for seven yards.
- Redshirt freshman RB Chris Rodriguez led the team in rushing with six carries for 65 yards and a touchdown. He had a career-long 44-yard run that sparked the drive for his own 2-yard touchdown run.
- Junior LB Boogie Watson had a great night rushing the passer with a career-high two quarterback sacks, along with a pair of quarterback hurries. He finished with four total tackles.
- Sophomore FS Yusuf Corker had a career-high nine tackles.
- Senior DL Calvin Taylor had a career-high seven tackles, including a quarterback sack. He also caused a fumble.
- Redshirt freshman TE Keaton Upshaw made his first collegiate start.