Time to extend the streak to ten. Here are my thoughts on the game.
1. Pick Apart Kentucky's Zone
With their two starting corners out, Kentucky will likely rely on their safeties to help out in pass coverage. That should leave us some room to run the ball and pass it to the backs and TE in the middle of the field. The key to offensive success will to take advantage of these weaknesses. That will help us move the ball consistently, if slowly, and may force Kentucky to move the safeties into the box, at which point we can try to beat the young corners. What we don't want to do is try too hard for big plays to the receivers while Kentucky is in a zone. We wouldn't then be taking advantage of what they're giving us, and it would likely lead to turnovers as we throw into coverage. Stephen Garcia and crew have done well in this sense so far, so Kentucky's plight should equal lots of offense for us.
2. Get in the Backfield
Kentucky has an experienced, better-than-average offensive line. South Carolina has a stout run defense and two of the best pass rushers in the country. Who wins the battle? The answer to that question will go a long way towards seeing how many points Kentucky can score. If the 'Cats can run the ball, they'll do well on offense. If they can't, they'll end up throwing a lot. That's not good for them, considering who they have under center. If Eric Norwood and Cliff Matthews can get in Mike Hartline's face when they do throw, it'll be all the better for us.
3. Kickoff Coverage
Kentucky's secret weapon in this game is going to be Derrick Locke on kickoff returns. We need to be very careful kicking to him, as his breakaway ability could negate our sizeable advantage in other aspects of the game.
Back in 1999, a writer for a Kentucky paper claimed that we shouldn't be in the SEC. How's that working out for ya? (BTW, if anyone has a link to this article, please post. I couldn't find it.)
A lot of Carolina fans and experts are predicting a blowout in this game. I'm not so sure. I think we're a better team than Kentucky, but I also think their run and kickoff games stand to give us fits. However, I think we stand to move the ball fairly well, and we should be able to wear their defense out by the fourth quarter. Kentucky, on the other hand, will have more trouble moving it consistently against us, and eventually you can expect Hartline to do something foolish. I say the game will be close for most of the day but that we'll pull away late. 24-13 Carolina.