Kentucky Turns The Lights Out on South Carolina’s Black Out

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Kentucky Turns The Lights Out on South Carolina’s Black Out

Mark Stoops and Kentucky continued their mastery over South Carolina with a 23-13 win in Columbia. Photo: Andrew Bishop,

The Kentucky Wildcats rolled into Williams-Brice Stadium with a chance to repeat two types of history. It was totally up to them. Repeating recent history would mean leaving Columbia with another win over the Gamecocks just like they did in 2015 when they ended their 22-game road losing streak with a 26-22 victory.

Repeating not quite as recent history would have us conjure up the 2007 contest between the two teams when then No. 8 Kentucky suffered their first loss of the season at the hands of then No. 11 South Carolina in a 38-23 Thursday night defeat on a night when nothing at all went right for the Cats.

The way things started last night it looked as if things were going to go the way of the latter. You couldn’t have scripted a more disastrous start for UK. Deebo Samuel, South Carolina’s standout WR/KR immediately put Kentucky on their heals when he caught a quick slant took it to the house for a 68-yard touchdown. The stadium was rocking and it appeared that the South Carolina seniors might finally get their first win against Kentucky.

Kentucky compounded things on the offensive side of the ball when Stephen Johnson was intercepted by Gamecocks linebacker Skai Moore. Shortly thereafter a high snap, an ongoing issue, sabotaged a rushing attempt out of the Wildcat for freshman Lynn Bowden, Jr.

While the offense was finding its way the Kentucky defense was lights out. After the big play by Samuel, South Carolina wasn’t able to muster much of anything. Jake Bentley did put up over 300 yards through the air but the bulk of that was with his team trailing and having to pass and Kentucky keeping everything in front of them and tackling well after the catch. Third and short, and even fourth and one, became monumental tasks for the Gamecocks.

Meanwhile the offense was able to come alive and get back into the game without the pressure of the deficit swelling beyond 6-0. I was never in the “ditch the Wildcat camp” and last night proved that if the snap (for starters) is good it can still yield success.

Kentucky’s offense was kind of like a bad storm last night. Once you see the dark clouds and thunder in the distance heading your way, you know what is going to eventually happen. When they settled in you could see that they were able to stay a couple of steps ahead of the South Carolina defense.

There would be another Wildcat touchdown as well. You also have to think about what didn’t happen or hadn’t happened. Kentucky hadn’t thrown out of the Wildcat yet and most felt that it was imperative that they do so soon to show a few more wrinkles out of the formation. When they finally decided to do so Benny Snell tosses the ball out to Stephen Johnson in the left flat. Johnson would have walked into the end zone for a score but lost the ball in the lights and watched it sail through his hands. Kentucky shook that off, regrouped and still capped off the drive with a touchdown. No doubt they would like to see more touchdowns going forward but the way they found a groove and controlled the game was noteworthy.

Although they didn’t connect on the throw but they will no doubt come back to it in the future, but they did show that they could be effective with the formation yet again when they run it cleanly.

Another thing Kentucky cleaned up was their third down conversions where they were an astounding 9 for 16 on the night. When South Carolina made things a tad suspenseful and got back to within seven points at 20-13, Johnson saved the best conversion of the evening for last.

Johnson scampered for 54 yards and put the Cats in position for another field goal to make it a two score game once again close the scoring at 23-13. He also stayed in bounds and avoided taking a big hit. You can’t ask for anything more than that.

The Cats can ask that the perception of them now be more positive. Even though they had started 2-0 some were acting as if they were 0-2. After beating South Carolina once again, this should no longer be the case. Confidence from the fan base should now be high just as it has been among the coaches and players all along and it should be an exciting week leading up to the Florida game.

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