The Advantage: South Carolina Gamecocks vs Kentucky Wildcats


Today’s game will be the first SEC game of the season for the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Kentucky Wildcats. The Wildcats stole one from the Gamecocks last year as they came back in the fourth quarter from a 14 point deficit behind Jojo Kemp rushing attack out of the wildcat formation. The Gamecocks look to pay back the Wildcats at Williams-Brice Stadium tonight to be 2-0 heading into their showdown with Georgia. Let’s take a look at how the two teams match-up in this week’s position advantage.


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Kentucky, like South Carolina, has plenty of controversy at quarterback as Patrick Towles still has not proven he is capable of running the air raid offense that Kentucky employs. Last week against Louisiana-Lafayette, Towles was 16-34 for 257 yards 3 touchdowns and an interception. Against the Gamecocks last season, Towles was 20-29 for 208 yards and a touchdown.

Connor Mitch has been lit up on the internet after making his first collegiate start and playing the most significant snaps he’s ever had the opportunity to play as a Gamecock. Mitch was 9-22 for 122 yards and one touchdown. I pointed out that Mitch could have been 12 or even 13 for 22 for 140+ yards had it not been for drops by Jerell Adams and David Williams.

I’m giving the advantage to Kentucky as they have the more seasoned player and South Carolina is dealing with injuries and inexperience at QB and WR.

Position Advantage: Wildcats

Running Back

Stanley “Boom” Williams lead the rushing attack for the Wildcats last week with 10 carries for 135 yards. Mikel Horton got 6 carries for 28 yards and the game winning touchdown for the Wildcats last week. Jojo Kemp will man the wildcat quarterback position and ran all over the Gamecocks last season.

The Gamecocks have 3 proven commodities at running back in Brandon Wilds, David Williams, Shon Carson. Shon Carson saved the day last week as he came in late in the game and sprinted 48 yards for the game winning touchdown over North Carolina on his first carry of the game. He finished with 4 carries for 75 yards. Pharoh Cooper will man the wildcat quarterback position and is always a threat to make a big play.

Position Advantage: Gamecocks

Wide Receiver

The Kentucky Wildcats are pretty young at wide receiver featuring a group that are primarily sophomores. Last week, Garrett Johnson led the way with 5 catches for 85 yards and a touchdown, while Dorian Bakers and Blake Bone combined for 6 more catches for 84 yards and a touchdown.

The Gamecocks are young at wide receiver also. Pharoh Cooper is the obvious playmaker at the position. He had 3 catches for 45 yards and a touchdown against North Carolina. Terry Googer had 2 catches for 18 yards. No one else stepped up for the Gamecocks and Mitch was pretty inaccurate on a few throws. Injuries at the position are also catching up to the Gamecocks, and 2 of the guys on the two deep are walk-ons.

Position Advantage: Wildcats

Tight End

C. J. Conrad is the starting tight end for the Wildcats. He is a true freshman and is backed up by a redshirt freshman. Conrad caught no passes but was great providing running room while blocking.

Jerell Adams is a legitimate threat in the passing game and blocks well also. He is a proven commodity for the Gamecocks but has to step up to the plate against the Wildcats and make some plays.

Position Advantage: Gamecocks

Offensive Line

Kentucky’s offensive line did pretty well in the run game, but allowed 3 sacks against Louisiana-Lafayette. Zach West provided a key block that allowed “Boom” to take a 75 yard run to the house. The Wildcats do start a true freshman at right tackle.

South Carolina’s offensive line is led by Brandon Shell. Like Kentucky, South Carolina finds it’s most experienced players on the left side of the line. They have returning starters in Shell, Matulis, Knott, and Sport. However, injuries have left no experience on the second team and the Gamecocks will likely try to rely on the starters to play the entire game.

Position Advantage: Gamecocks

Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive Line

Kentucky’s defensive line was led by Melvin Lewis last week as he notched 9 tackles. Regie Meant added 5 tackles also. They did not register a sack in the game.

South Carolina’s defense line seemed to return to form against North Carolina after a year long hiatus last season. They had 4 sacks with 1.5 coming from Kelsey Griffin, the other .5 credited to Darius English, 1 from Dante Sawyer, and 1 for Phillip Dukes. Marquavius Lewis was able to get pressure on the QB. It’s a good sign for the Gamecocks who only had 14 sacks all season in 2014.

Position Advantage: Gamecocks


Josh Forrest had 15 tackles and an interception against Louisiana-Lafayette in the Wildcats opener. He also had 15 tackles against South Carolina last year. Kentucky would also like to get Ryan Flannigan back on the field after he missed the opener with a  shoulder injury. He was listed as very doubtful early in the week.

The Gamecocks have an experienced group of linebackers led by reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Week Skai Moore. Moore had 10 tackles and 2 game saving interceptions in the endzone to start and end the game. Jonathan Walton is also a play maker for the Gamecocks

Position Advantage: Gamecocks

Defensive Backs

Kentucky’s secondary gave up 232 yards in the air against Louisiana-Lafayette, but did not allow a touchdown pass. JD Harmon had an interception, forced a fumble, and logged 6 tackles in the game. Last season AJ Stamps had 7 tackles and an interception against the Gamecocks.

The Gamecocks safeties played better. Jordan Diggs intercepted a pass and Isaiah Johnson broke up a pass on a huge, well timed hit. The cornerbacks still had a lot of broken coverage and poor tackling, and Chris Lammons is out for the game.

Position Advantage: Even

Special Teams

Austin MacGinnis missed a PAT and a field goal against Lousiana-Lafayette. Sihiem King and JD Harmon averaged 31.8 yards per return on kickoffs which is second best in the SEC.

Deebo Samuel fumbled his only kickoff return, and Elliott Fry missed a 57 yard field goal attempt. Sean Kelly averaged 48.7 yards per punt last week and also rushed for a first down on a trick play. Landon Ard had touchbacks on all of his kickoffs. Pharoh Cooper is always a threat at punt returner.

Position Advantage: South Carolina

The Gamecocks kickoff against Kentucky tonight at 7:30 PM ET on the SEC Network.

Next: South Carolina Gamecocks Football Recruiting, Development an Issue

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