“THANK GOD FOR VANDERBILT”
The University of South Carolina lost its third straight game to Kentucky … and not in basketball, either.
First-year head coach Will Muschamp‘s Gamecocks (2-2, 1-2 SEC) went into Lexington, Kentucky hoping to eke out a win against arguably the worst program in a weakened Southeastern Conference (SEC).
Instead they got run over by the Wildcats (2-2, 1-1 SEC) en route to what could be a season-defining 17-10 defeat.
Kentucky ran for 216 yards against the Gamecock defense – which started strong but came undone as the game wore on at Commonwealth Stadium. The coup de grace? A bruising, eleven-play, 65-yard touchdown drive in which true freshman running back Benjamin Snell Jr. toted the rock nine times (including eight carries in a row) for 58 yards and the game-winning touchdown.
So in control of the ground game were the Wildcats that they didn’t even attempt a pass for the final twenty minutes of the game.
On the other side of the ball, South Carolina’s offensive line failed to provide anything resembling consistent protection for true freshman quarterback Brandon McIlwain. The dual-threat signal-caller was sacked four times, including on a do-or-die fourth-down play late in the fourth quarter that sealed the Gamecocks’ ignominious defeat.
The eighteen-year-old Pennsylvania native – making his first-ever SEC start – completed just 15 of 30 passes for 177 yards. He also ran thirteen times for 11 yards – although to his credit he hasn’t turned the football over in either of his two starts.
McIlwain’s weak numbers weren’t really his fault, though. Aside from the lack of protection, he was once again hamstrung by the predictable, unimaginative and thoroughly unsuccessful play-calling of co-offensive coordinator Kurt Roper.
Through four games, South Carolina is averaging an anemic 283 yards and 14 points per contest. And they’ve put up these embarrassing totals against some of the worst defenses in all of college football.
Seriously: “Thank God for Vanderbilt,” right?
From 2000-2013, South Carolina lost to the Wildcats just once – in 2010. Now they are one defeat away from graduating a class of seniors that never beat Kentucky.
And to think this is the same program that won eleven games three times in a row just three years ago …
SOUTH CAROLINA-KENTUCKY GAME BOOK (.pdf)
(Banner pic via Travis Bell Photography)