Breaking Down Each Game In 2012: Kentucky
Next up on the schedule is the Wildcats of Kentucky. By this point in the season we should be 4-0 with two conference wins under our belt as we head to Lexington.
2011 Record- 5-7 (2-6 in the conference)
Bowl Game- None
Key Players Returning- Morgan Newton/qb Raymond Sanders III/RB
Key Players Lost- Ryan Tydlacka/p, Winston Guy Jr/safety, Danny Travathan/lb
Last Meeting- South Carolina 54 Kentucky 3
1. South Carolinas Front Seven vs. Kentuckys Running Game- Last year Kentucky ended it's season by finally ending it's miserable losing streak to Tennessee. How did they do it? They ran the ball over, and over, and over again. That's really the only option the Wildcats have on offense. Our d-line and linebackers should be able to have their way with Kentuckys front so shutting down the rushing attack will be key. If the Cocks do this then it's going to be a long day for the Cats.
2. Conner Shaw vs. Kentuckys secondary- Lets not kid ourselves here. Kentuckys defense loses just about all the star power this team had from a year ago. Conner Shaw should be able to throw all over the field on the Wildcats. If Shaw can get in the zone early and often then we should be able to get some younger guys in for some early season experience which could end up being very vital for the tough road that will be ahead of us down the road.
3. Young Players vs. Kentucky in general- As I stated in the previous matchup, we should be able to get up early on the Cats. If so, we need our young guns to get in there and get some live game experience. The road after Kentucky isn't going to be easy. We will need these guys at some point and getting them some experience in lesser competition could give them the confidence they need when they are called upon in big games later down the road. This team has a chance to be special and if it's going to happen we need everyone ready when their numbers are called.
Conclussion: Ok, so it is a road game in the SEC. The Big Blue Nation can get pretty rowdy at times too. If this game was being played inside of Rupp Arena I'd be a little worried but this is Kentucky football. Last year the Kentucky game served as the beginning of the Shaw Era at South Carolina and we absolutely throttled the Cats. I don't expect this one to be much different. Joker Phillips seat will be pretty hot going into this year and after this game with the Cocks I think Kentucky fans will probably be calling for his head.
Prediction: Gamecocks 49 Kentucky 6. Gamecocks Move to 5-0 (3-0 in the SEC) after this warmup and head back to Columbia to play for all the marbles in the East the next week.