2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 6 - Kentucky at South Carolina
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Oct. 8 at South Carolina 54 … Kentucky 3
CFN Analysis: Oh sure, Connor Shaw looks great against Kentucky. Stephen Garcia has to be a wee bit ticked that he didn't get a chance to show what he could do in a game against a lightweight, but Shaw showed he could get the done completing 26-of-39 passes for 311 yards and four scores, and magically, the offense realized Alshon Jeffery should probably get the ball more. However, Steve Spurrier still can't figure out how to use Marcus Lattimore. The star back wasn't used much early, the game became a blowout, and he still got work finishing with 22 carries; the fewer carries in meaningless games, the better. The defense came up with its best game yet, and now it's time to put it all together on both sides of the ball on the road at Mississippi State, Tennessee, and Arkansas.
Kentucky's O is a mess. The offense is bad enough without turning the ball over six times, and worse yet, the defense that was so strong at times in bad situations broke down way too much against the swarming Gamecock defense. Nothing worked. The Wildcats only completed 4-of-26 passes for 17 yards with Morgan Newton accounting for all the positive production. He ran for 54 yards on 14 carries, but there wasn't any hope with the offensive line getting destroyed by the Gamecock front four. The Jacksonville State game will be a breath of fresh air; there's still time to salvage the season. With Mississippi State and Ole Miss up next at home in SEC play, and with Vandy still on the slate, getting to six wins is still possible, but the offense has to find something it can rely on and the line has to be night-and-day better – fast.
(AP) COLUMBIA, S.C. -- South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw threw for 311 yards and four touchdowns, leading No. 18 South Carolina to a 54-3 win over Kentucky on Saturday.
Shaw, a sophomore who took over as starter this week from fifth-year senior Stephen Garcia, completed 26 of 39 passes and had no interceptions.
The Gamecocks (5-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) gained 639 yards as they enjoyed their biggest margin of victory in an SEC game since joining the league in 1992.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier took advantage of Kentucky's bad defense to tinker with his own sputtering offense. He called direct snaps to the running back, threw to the tight end and even ran an option play.
The Wildcats (2-4, 0-3) offense gained just 96 yards, and their quarterbacks threw four interceptions and just four completions.
Kentucky might have been the perfect opponent after South Carolina's tumultuous week following its first defeat, a 16-13 loss to Auburn. Beside changing quarterbacks, Spurrier kept his offensive assistants away from the media and suggested some players might not need to talk to reporters as much.
The Wildcats came in losing their first two SEC games by an average of 33 points and allowing 434 yards a game. So Spurrier took the opportunity to shake things up with his offense. Whatever he chose worked, as the Gamecocks gained more than twice as many yards as they had in the Auburn game.
All-SEC running back Marcus Lattimore only ran the ball twice in the first quarter, while Alshon Jeffery, an all-SEC receiver last year, was thrown to eight times by Shaw.
In the second quarter, Spurrier turned back to Lattimore, who even took a couple of direct snaps. Shaw threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Justice Cunningham in a formation that had the tight end and just three linemen in front of the quarterback. Cunningham caught five passes for 46 yards after having just five receptions in the first five games.
South Carolina finished the first half with 292 yards.
Spurrier put in fourth string quarterback Dylan Thompson in with less than four minutes to go in the game and ran a drive that had five passes, ending with an 8-yard touchdown scramble by Thompson with nine seconds left, after he couldn't find an open receiver.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats offense was dreadful. They turned the ball over six times. They had just six first downs. Starting quarterback Morgan Newton was 4-for-20 for 17 yards.
So Kentucky turned to backup quarterback Maxwell Smith, who threw two interceptions his first two passes and nearly had his third pass picked off by blitzing linebacker Damario Jeffery. The Wildcats turned back to Newton, and promptly fumbled three plays later.
The Wildcats ran just six plays in South Carolina territory, all of them after the Gamecocks fumbled the opening kickoff. A 28-yard field goal by Craig McIntosh accounted for all Kentucky's points.
Alshon Jeffery caught five passes for 82 yards and two touchdowns, doubling his season total for TDs. Lattimore ran 22 times for 102 yards, while Bruce Ellington, moonlighting from his winter job as South Carolina's point guard, atoned for the fumbled kickoff by taking a direct snap 61 yards down the sideline for a touchdown that put the Gamecocks ahead 40-3 early in the fourth quarter.
Shaw's four touchdown passes were as many as Garcia has thrown all season and the most in a game for any South Carolina quarterback in almost five years. He got a loud cheer in the fourth quarter when he came out and Andrew Clifford came in for mop-up duty. Clifford got in the action too, throwing a 7-yard touchdown pass to D.L. Moore that put the Gamecocks ahead 47-3.
Garcia spent the game on the sidelines in a black ball cap, chatting with the other backup QBs.
Newton was Kentucky's leading rusher with 54 yards on 14 carries.
Kentucky (2-3) at South Carolina (4-1) Oct. 8, 12:21, ESPN3
Here's The Deal … Oh South Carolina, how can we ever quit you?
Just when it seemed like the Gamecocks were ready to get their stuff together, they find yet another way to be interesting, but in a bad way for them, doing everything humanly possible to lose to an Auburn team just begging to get tagged. From not feeding the Heisman-caliber running back enough, to several key mistakes, to a bizarre time gag at the very end, South Carolina seemed to sense the SEC East race was about to get dull and it needed some spicing up.
Last year, Kentucky was its way to a year of doing nothing, but South Carolina being South Carolina, managed to blow a 28-10 lead as UK went on a 21-0 run in the second half to close out the most bizarre and improbable upset of the SEC season.
This week should bring even more theater.
This is the supposed to be the easy part of the slate with everything changing next week with a trip to Mississippi State to kick off a three game road trip. The SEC season closes out against Florida, and with the Vanderbilt out of the way and Ole Miss not on the schedule, the Gamecocks could use a bounceback win.
Kentucky has one major flaw it can't seem to correct: it's not very good this year at playing college football.
The defense is bad, the offense is worse, and the team is on a three-game losing streak after working way too hard to get by WKU and Central Michigan. A win would change the season around in a hurry, and with Jacksonville State, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and at Vanderbilt coming up, there's still time to have a good season. Beating USC first, though, is a must after getting blown out by Florida and LSU over the last two weeks.
Why Kentucky Might Win: It's South Carolina and Connor Shaw is starting.
Steve Spurrier desperately needs Shaw to be great, and while the practice reports have been glowing, it hasn't translated to the field. Given the starting nod against a bad East Carolina team to start the season, Shaw completed 3-of-9 passes for 21 yards as USC got behind. Stephen Garcia swooped in to save the day, but a 9-of-23, two pick day against Auburn meant a move back to Shaw, and the young passer isn't exactly proven.
USC has as much firepower and NFL offensive talent as anyone in college football, but getting points over the last few weeks has been like pulling teeth. After destroying East Carolina and Georgia for 101 points in the first two games, the O has hit the skids and can't seem to find any semblance of consistency. Spurrier has the best team in the SEC East – and it's even stronger with Florida's John Brantley being knocked out – but it's only scoring 19 points per game over the last three against three mediocre defenses (Navy, Vanderbilt and Auburn). The passing game is shockingly inefficient and the offense seems to try to keep both teams in the game as much as possible. USC is 115th in the nation in passing efficiency and is 11th among SEC teams, but …
Why South Carolina Might Win: Kentucky is 117th in the nation in passing efficiency and dead last in the SEC. The Cats can't run and can't throw, and the defense that looked so good at times early on benefitted from playing against lousy offenses. Florida and LSU went through the motions and tore apart the UK D, partly because the Wildcat offense wasn't providing any help.
The offensive line has been abysmal so far allowing 21 sacks in five games, and while the South Carolina offense might be having problems at the wrong time, the defense is stepping up its game with a pass rush that's growing into something special. The Gamecocks have cranked out 11 sacks in the last two games as the NFL-caliber linemen are teeing off into the backfield. If there aren't at least five sacks, consider it a disappointment.
What To Watch Out For: The main catalyst for all the great production on the USC defensive front has been do-it-all playmaker Melvin Ingram, who earned SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors after coming up with 11 tackles, 3.5 sacks, a pick, and four tackles for loss in the loss to Auburn. He's been called the team's best athlete with running back moves and agility in the body of an NFL 3-4 defensive end, and while it might be a stretch to call him this year's Nick Fairley in terms of production, he's having a similar impact to the former Auburn star. However, he has to get over a foot injury suffered against the Tigers. If he's limited, the defense loses a major piece to the puzzle. Fortunately, the Gamecocks might not even need him at all.
UK is trying out its options to find something that works on an offense that's not going anywhere, and with Morgan Newton being held by LSU to a painful 6-of-20, 57-yard, one score passing day, Maxwell Smith has been getting more work. The problem is that he's even worse, completing 1-of-5 passes for 9 yards and getting dumped time and again by the LSU defensive front. The offense desperately needs steady playmakers, and La'Rod King is trying. The team's best wide receiver just isn't getting the ball enough.
What Will Happen: Stephen Garcia will be playing by the second half. For all of Kentucky's problems, the defense has at least had some solid moments against struggling offenses, and the secondary will give Shaw a whole host of problems. However, he'll be bailed out by Marcus Lattimore, who'll be fed the ball early and often after getting just 17 carries against Auburn. It'll be a struggle for a while, but UK's bad offense will make it easy on the Gamecocks.
CFN Prediction: South Carolina 31 … Kentucky 14
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South Carolina -21 O/U: 43.5
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