Welcome to this week’s question and answer session with the “enemy” of the week. This time around, we spoke to Jeremy Chisenhall, from our sister site A Sea of Blue, about the South Carolina/Kentucky matchup.
1. From an outsider’s perspective, what are some of the glaring weak links for the Gamecocks this week? Strengths?
I think the biggest weak link I've seen so far is the O-line, specifically the blind side. Malik Young didn't look great last week. It also seems as though the run game is struggling for South Carolina. No one's at 100 yards on the ground yet, but I see Ty'Son Williams came through last week against Missouri.
South Carolina's got some big strengths in Deebo Samuel and Jake Bentley. There's not much you can say about Samuel, other than wow. Two kick return touchdowns in two games is quite incredible. And Bentley is already building on a true freshman season that saw him lead the team in passing yards.
2. How is Kentucky’s defense planning on stopping Deebo Samuel?
I'm hoping Kentucky keeps four guys at their own 35 on kickoffs, because otherwise I don't know how they'll do it. Samuel already has two kick returns for touchdown, and the Cats gave up more yardage than they'd like to admit in the return game against EKU last week. I'm not quite as worried about Samuel in the passing game, because Kentucky has much-improved depth and a good secondary, but I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see Samuel bring one back again this week.
3. What’s the fan feeling about this match up?
I think the fans are just slightly pessimistic. One thing you've been able to bank on in the Mark Stoops era is Kentucky upsetting South Carolina. But both teams come in 2-0, and Kentucky's wins have been ugly wins against not so great football teams. You can't write Kentucky off in this one, but it's less likely for them to win this year than it was the past few years.
4. What are some of Kentucky's weaknesses that South Carolina would be able to expose with their talented position groups?
The defensive line could really have a day against Kentucky's offensive line. UK's line certainly isn't what it was a year ago when it got two separate running backs to 1,000+ yard seasons, and South Carolina seems able to get pressure without blitzing this year. And again, special teams could be a big mismatch for South Carolina with how good they've looked the first two weeks.
5. What South Carolina player makes you the most scared for Saturday?
Gee I don't know, probably that guy that already has two kick returns for touchdowns. Samuel has a good chance of tearing up UK's special teams and his ability to run off sweeps and catch passes makes him only more dangerous to Kentucky's defense as Jake Bentley's most versatile weapon. So I'd say he's the player to worry about most.
6. Any big injuries that Gamecock fans should know about?
Linebacker Jordan Jones suffered an injury to his shoulder last week, and the severity is still unknown, so his status is uncertain. Running back Benny Snell suffered bruised ribs last week as well, but he's expected to be ok.
7. Who’s winning this ball game?
Like I said before, you can bank on Kentucky upsetting South Carolina in the Mark Stoops era. Even though Kentucky's looked rough over the first two games, they're still 2-0, and I think they'll get an ugly win again against South Carolina. 17-14 Cats.