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Our Digital Season: Week 6 — South Carolina at Kentucky

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It's the DigiCocks at the DigiCats!

Andy Lyons

Hi folks! Welcome back to Our Digital Season, which is a filthy, naughty feature that tempts us into believing a buttstompin' is nigh when something quite different lurks. Last week, the DigiCocks went buckwald on DigiMizzou, which most certainly did not happen in IRL. With the incorrect prediction, ODS falls to 2-3 this season. Can it pull even this week? Let's find out!

Cats win thee toss and will kick.

1st Quarter, or OFF TO A ROARING EXCUSABLE I GUESS START

After a touchback, it's 1st and 10 on the 25. Zone read give to Mike Davis who picks up a cool 13. Dylan drops back and hits Busta, who has to come back and get it and loses 3 yards. Dylan to Roland for 9 on 2nd, and it's 3rd and 4, ball on the 44. They will run it on the delay, and Davis picks up 11. Blitz on 1st down, so Dylan throws it away—over the head of a WIDE open Jerrell Adams, natch. Delay to Wilds on 2nd loses 2, so it's 3rd and 12, ball just across midfield. Dylan drops back, and hits Roland on a square out route for a gain of 13—1st down! Jump to 3rd and a few inches. Dylan is in shotgun with no one else back—um. He takes the snap, coverage is good, and he throws it away. This feels too real. It's 4th and inches on the Kentucky 30—and I guess that's field goal time. It's good.

3-0, Gamecocks.

Touchback, and here comes Kentucky. Towles is clobbered as he throws on 1st, incomplete. Pistol formation, and the handoff to Heard goes nowhere. 3rd and 10. Towles iwth all day and a wide open Javess Blue—16 yards, 1st down. Towles to Robinson for 10, and it's another 1st down. Jump to 3rd and 4, and a screen pass gains just 2. It's 4th and 2, and Kentucky will attempt one of those insanely long field goals this game loves to call. It actually has the distance, but misses wide.

1st and 10 on their own 40. Dylan hits DigiNicky on a play action pass for 6. On what looks like the same play, Dylan hits Nicky again for 10 more. Ball across midfield now. 5 wide, and Dylan finds Shamier Jeffery for 5. Offset I formation, and Davis gains 7. Chains move again, ball on the 33. Dangerous screen gains just 3, and then Dylan is sacked after bouncing around in the pocket forever. Sound familiar? That brings up 3rd and 13. Dylan drops back, gets good protection, and finds Damiere Byrd on the slant and go—he gains just enough! Zone read keeper, and Thompson gains 12 yards. DigiCocks are now inside the 10. Dylan keeps it again, gaining 4. Ace backfield on 2nd down, and Dylan drops back—he hits KJ Brent on the sideline, who turns and crosses into the endzone.

10-0, Cocks. 1:56 remains in the 1st.

Touchback, and Kentucky will begin its second drive from its own 25. Towles quickly finds Borden for 12, and it's a quick 1st down. Towles to Badet on 2nd for 8—Towles isn't needing much time to complete these passes. He then scrambles for 9, and Kentucky's already across the 50. Towles is findin' holes—he hits Borden for another dozen. Towles with all day, and he hits Blue for a big gain—down inside the 20. He then scrambles for 14 on a zone read keeper, and Kentucky is knocking on the door. A helpful glitch results in a 5 yard loss, and it's 2nd and goal from the 8. Heard gains all 5 back on 2nd, and it's 3rd and goal from the 3. Five wide, and Towles hits Blake Bone—hey, remember that guy? We recruited him pretty hard I think—for the touchdown.

10-7, Cocks.

Touchback—an idiotic screen gains 1, and the quarter ends. Both teams have near identical stats after one quarter. The difference is a made field goal.

2nd Quarter, or, IT GETS BETTER

2nd and 9 from the 26. Delayed handoff to Davis fools no one, and he barely makes it back to the line. Blitz comes, Dylan does not see blitzer, is hit as he throws and is lucky it wasn't a fumble. Incomplete, three and out, punt.

Kentucky takes over at their own 34. Pistol formation on 1st, and Towles hits Robinson for 4. Towles is now 12-13 for 90 yards. Jump to 3rd and 1. Towles hits Robinson, who had no one within 5 yards of him, for 12. 1st and 10 at the 45. Gain of 12, and lets throw 15 more yards on for a facemask. Ball now at the 20 yard line. Handoff to Heard gains 4. That is followed by a casually thrown touchdown pass to Robinson in the corner of the endzone. This digi-defense is every bit as painful to watch as the IRL one.

14-10, Cats.

DigiDylan needs a faith healer or something—snap the ball and throws it away in less than a second. Delayed handoff gains 9. Dylan goes deep on 3rd, and underthrows a wide open Damiere Byrd. The pick is dropped, but it's another 3 and out. Punt.

After a decent return, Kentucky starts out at the 44. A rare enjoyable play occurs when Skai Moore gets to the back 3 yards behind the line. That's quickly invalidated by a 13 yard pass to Blue. First down. 9 more to Robinson. God this is difficult to watch. Heard gains 5 on a sweep. Ali Groves drops a SUREFIRE pick six—it's Towles' second incompletion of the game. Jump to 3rd and 7. 5 wide. Gamecocks blitz just 3, yet somehow Jeff Badet is able to stand at the line to gain in a window the size of a barn door. 1st down. Jump ahead to 1st and goal at the 1 yard line. They go 5 wide, which results in a throw away. They wise up, and Heard takes it up the gut for the score.

21-10, Cats. 3:59 remains in the half.

Desperate to swing the momentum, the Cocks start out from their own 25. Dylan launches it into the sideline. 2nd and 10. Incomplete. 3rd and 10. Yet again, Dylan tries to go deep and is nearly picked. It's the 3rd consecutive 3 and out for South Carolina. They have 1 yard in the 2nd quarter.

The punt return gets to the UK 40. The cats look for their 4th consecutive scoring drive. It starts promisingly with a 9.5 yard rush by heard. Towles then loses a yard on a keeper, so it's 3rd and short. And, amazingly, the Cocks stop him short. The punt is fairly bad, and the Cocks will begin at their own 30.

Dylan's pass on 1st down is almost intercepted. He's 0 for his last 7. He breaks the streak in the form of a 5 yard completion to Jones, and it's 3rd and 5. A screen pass to Davis gains 10, and it's a 1st down—the first one in a long time. Give to Davis gains 5—he's got 6 touches for 37 yards. We're under 2 minutes in the half now. Sweep to Davis, he gets around the edge—and breaks free! He'll rocket down the sideline for a 50 yard touchdown! "I TOLD YALL WE SHOULDA BEEN RUNNIN THE DANG BALL!" the entire state chants in unison.

21-17, Cats.

Of course, the Cats can still score this half and will get the ball back after the half, so things could get ugly if the Gamecock D doesn't force a stop. Touchback, and the pass is complete for 8 on 1st down. UK uses a timeout. Towles to Robinson for 8 more—he's got 200 yards passing now. Jump ahead to 3rd and 4—a stop here could mean the Cocks get the ball back with about a minute left. 5 wide, and Towles' pass to Bone will gain just 3! Kentucky punts, and it goes through the endzone. With a 1:05 left in the half and 3 timeouts, the Gamecocks could somehow come out of this disastrous quarter with the lead.

But of course, that means an 80 yard scoring drive. Do they have it in them? Let's find out. Dylan hits Cooper for 11 on 1st—timeout. A halfback delay (?) gains 1, and then South Carolina calls a timeout. Good use of plays/timeouts IMVMFGDHAFO. 3rd and 9 and—oh my! It's Dylan to Shamier Jeffery on the go route! Jeffery makes the catch ad streaks into the endzone for the 68 yard touchdown!

24-21, Cocks. After the early futility, South Carolina now has outgained Kentucky in the 2nd quarter. That said, the Cats still have 2 timeouts and :45 to tie or reclaim the lead.

Touchback. Pass falls incomplete on 1st, but on 2nd, its Towles' turn to bomb it on a go route. Pass complete to Blue for 42 yards. 1st and 10 at the USC 32. 1st and 10—AH! Holloman drops a pick six of his own. 5 wide on 2nd—and this time, the pick is made my Rico McWilliams! He comes down in the end zone, and the Cocks will take over.

With just 26 seconds and one timeout, we expect DigiSpurrier to run out the clock. But no—Dylan hits Roland for 15. He gets out of bounds and the clock stops. Dylan to Shaq gains 7, and instead of calling a timeout they hurry-up. Dylan's pass falls incomplete. It's 3rd and 3 with 2 seconds left. The Hail Mary falls incomplete, somewhat surprisingly given the thrower, and we go to the half with South Carolina somehow leading.

FIRST HALF ANALYSIS

It seemed worse than it was, given the six drive stretch that saw the Cocks punt thrice and Kentucky score thrice. But outside of that, South Carolina was the much better team, so it really comes out in the wash. The teams are separated by just 4 yards, and, of course, 3 points. Dylan Thompson is 18-29 with 191 yards, and Mike Davis has 88 rushing (thanks in large part to that 50 yarder, but he still has more than 5 YPC if you take that out.)

3rd Quarter, or LET'S HAVE SACKS

Kentucky gets the ball, and kneels the touchback. Pass on 1st down gains just 1, and another pass gains none on 2nd. So it's 3rd and 9, and Towles is sacked by Darius English for a loss of 6! It's a crucial 3 and out for the Gamecock defense out of the gates. Kentucky will punt, and Cooper takes it to the USC 40.

Give to Davis on 1st down gains 5. He's up over 10 yards per carry, again, thanks to that 50 yard scramble. Dylan gets good protection on 2nd and hits Cooper for 8. I formation, and the give is Davis, but a missed block by McLaurin (YOU HAD ONE JOB) means a loss of 3. Dumb pass by Dylan on 2nd is batted down, and it's 3rd and 13. Another ugly pass is batted down, and South Carolina will have to punt—they're slightly out of "insane field goal that no one would ever make by this game's AI still calls for" range. Punt goes through the end zone, touchback.

After a short gain on 1st, a really nice corner route gains 27 and the ball is across midfield. Badet catches his third consecutive ball for 6. Towles keeps a zone read on 2nd and gains just 1, then does the same on 3rd to gain 6 and a 1st down. Ball at the SC 35. Pass dropped on 1st. Halfback screen pass is exceptionally well-defended and nearly picked by Skai Moore, who nevertheless makes the tackle 5 yards behind the line. 3rd and 15, and it's another huge 3rd down sack, this time by Phillip Dukes! Kentucky will punt on 4th and forever. Touchback.

Careless bubble screen on 1st (aren't they all in this game?) gains just 1. Pass to Byrd is good for 7, and it's 3rd and 2. Mike Davis gets the zone read, hurdles a defender and crashes ahead for 10! He's up above the century mark now. 1st down. Offset I—play action, and Dylan hits Busta Anderson for a whole bunch—he's knocked out at the UK 40. Give to Davis on 1st goes nowhere. Somewhat miraculously, a bubble screen to Pharoh gains 8, and it's3rd and 1. I formation. Give to Brandon Wilds, who tosses off a defender, and twirls his way through traffic for a gain of 11. I formation again—a delayed give to Davis gains 5. Dylan gives it—no, he keeps it and slices up the middle for 14 yards! Down at the 2. 1st and goal, one man back. Wilds gets the handoff, and runs in untouched.

31-21, Gamecocks. 1:33 left in the quarter.

Touchback, and the Gamecock D takes the field—they've forced a pair of Kentucky punts so far this half. After a short gain on 1st, it's Towles to Robinson for 22—good defense, better pass. Robinson gains 7 more on 2nd. Heard dances too much on 2nd, and gains just 1—he's averaging just 3 YPC. That average will continue to drop, as he gains just 2 on 3rd! The field goal unit is out—this will be a hilarious 56 yard attempt—and holy crap, it would have split the uprights if it wasn't a yard short. It banks off the crossbar, no good. South Carolina takes over at their own 39.

A 4 yard gain on 1st, and the quarter ends.

4th Quarter, or PICKS ON PICKS

Dylan hits Busta on 2nd for 9, and it's 3rd and 1. As Dylan jogs into the shotgun and 5 receivers spread out, appeals regarding the dang ball and the benefits of running it are announced far and wide. Instead, Dylan is sacked for a loss of 8. S. M. D. H. Punt.

The kick is returned to the UK 26. Heard runs for 4—he one-arm shoves JT Surratt in the process. Huh. Huge blitz on second is picked up, and the pass is complete. 1st down. Another 13 yards after that, and the ball's at the SC 43. The screen gains just 1 on 1st, and Heard runs like 10 yards, most of them sideways, to gain a pair. So it's 3rd and 7. Towles airs on to the sideline, and Sharrod Golightly deliberately runs around the ball and the receiver, allowing the 1st down yardage to be gained. 1st and 10 on the SC 28. Towles throws it away, his 8th incompletion of the day (41 good.) Bubble screen gains 3, so we have another 3rd and 7. Towles hits his man on the sideline, but he's unable to maintain balance and goes out. So it's 4th and 3—down 10, you think the field goal is the way to go here, but DigiStoops will go for it. Wrong call—it's Skai Moore on the linebacker blitz, beating the tackle like a defensive end and making the sack! Hey Mark Stoops, your kicker missed by inches from 56 yards and yet the 42 yarder is too risky?

South Carolina takes over with 5:23 remaining. Dylan to Roland for 5. A biplane zooms by toting a RUN THE DANG BALL banner. Dylan then loses 2 on a zone read keeper. 3rd and 9. Dylan drops back, and zips a nice one to Nick Jones on the sideline—gain of 13! 1st and 10. Pass to Anderson is good for 6. Dylan on the keeper—he gains 14! Now 1st and 10 on the 31. The delay fools no one, and Davis loses 1. It's 2nd and 11, and the Cocks are still snapping it with like 25 seconds on the play clock. Also, 5 wide. Also, Thompson is sacked. 3rd and 12, and Thompson will air it out—it's tight man coverage on Nick Jones by a DB who seems about 8 inches taller, so, yeah, intercepted. Touchback.

1st and 10 Kentucky on their own 20. Towles to Robinson for 14. Then to Montgomery for 32—all of a sudden the ball's at the SC 35. But this time, Towles is bottled up and sacked by Gerald Dixon for a loss of 9. Clock down under 3 minutes now. Towles almost picked on 2nd. It's 3rd and 19 now. Towles goes deep over the middle—and it's Rico McWilliams with his 2nd pick of the day!

1st and 10 Cocks at their own 20, and they're finally in clock burning mode. I formation, and Mike Davis gains 7. Again to Davis, who gains 1st down yardage, but a clipping call on AJ Cann will move it back. Huge break for Kentucky. It's 2nd and 13 now. I formation again, and Davis loses a yard. 3rd and 14. Dylan Thompson then goes full Dylan Thompson and takes a sack on a halfback screen. Hull will punt from the back line of the endzone, so UK will begin the drive at its own 35 after a decent return.

1:42 remains. Kentucky with just 1 timeout. They'll go for gold on 1st—and boom! Chaz Elder with the over-the-shoulder pick! Just like that, South Carolina gets the ball back.

1st and 10 on the 20—UK can stop the clock just once, which they do after an 8 yard keeper by Dylan Thompson. Handoff to Brandon Wilds gets over the line to gain, and it's victory formation time! At least it should be but they hand it off again. Wilds gains 6. Ok, now victory formation. Game.

Final score: 31-21, Gamecocks.

What a weird game, right? Kentucky scores on 3 consecutive drives in the late 1st/early 2nd quarter, and never scores again. The DigiCocks had their usual headscratchy moments and yielded a ghastly 411 pass yards, but were otherwise good enough to get the W. DigiKentucky's questionable field goal logic and a few timely interceptions kept them from achieving the heights that their three-drive stretch early in the second quarter seemed to indicate they were capable of.

SC STAT UK
271 PASS YDS 411
152 RUSH YDS 28
423 TOTAL YDS 439
7/16 3RD DOWN CONV 6/14 (0/1 4DC)
1 INT TURNOVERS 3 INT
55% TOP 45%
M. Davis: 14 ATT, 115 YDS, 8.2 YPC, 1 TD, 1 REC, 10 YDS OFFENSIVE POTG P. Towles: 45-52, 411 YDS, 2 TD, 3 INT
R. McWilliams: 3 TACK, 2 INT DEFENSIVE POTG A. Dupree: 6 TACK, 4 TFL, 3 SACK

The teams were fairly even in a lot of ways—UK slightly outgained SC, albeit acquiring their yardage in a far less balanced fashion. But turnovers (including a failed 4th down attempt) and a pair of missed field goals squashed a handful of scoring opportunities for the DigiCats. The DigiCocks were far from perfect, but made far fewer unforgivable mistakes. Aside from that, they did aight. Is doing aight enough to beat IRL Kentucky? Probably. But I speak for all IRL fans when I say it's time for South Carolina to play better than aight. Don't settle for aight. Aight?

Aight.

Until next week!