UK football opponent preview: South Carolina

jclay@herald-leader.comAugust 7, 2012 

Head coaches Joker Phillips, left, and Steve Spurrier shook hands after Kentucky's 54-3 routing at South Carolina's Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C., on Oct. 8, 2011. Photo by Pablo Alcala | Staff

PABLO ALCALA | STAFF

  • About this series

    This is the fifth in a summer series of articles by Herald-Leader sports columnist John Clay analyzing Kentucky's 2012 football opponents game by game.

Date: Sept. 29 at Commonwealth Stadium.

Coach: Steve Spurrier is 55-35 after seven seasons at South Carolina. He is 197-75-2 overall as a college head coach. He won a national championship at Florida in 1996. His teams have gone 20-7 over the last two years at South Carolina.

Offense: Seven starters return, but the most important is running back Marcus Lattimore, who is coming off knee surgery. After topping 1,000 yards as a freshman, Lattimore rushed for 818 yards last year before being hurt. Quarterback Connor Shaw took over after Stephen Garcia was dismissed from the team last year and did well running the football. He must improve his passing. His relatively inexperienced offensive line is also a concern.

Defense: Sophomore end Jadeveon Clowney leads a unit that should be stout this season. The highly coveted Clowney registered eight sacks last year as a true freshman. Defensive end Devin Taylor, safety D.J. Swearinger and linebacker DeVonte Holloman are also key returnees to a unit that allowed just 268 yards per game last year, third best in the nation.

Overall: Coming off an 11-2 campaign, South Carolina is again poised to fight it out with Georgia for the SEC East title. Lattimore's return should be key for Spurrier, who relied on defense last year as the Gamecocks won seven of their last eight games.

Series: In 2010, Kentucky beat South Carolina 31-28 in Commonwealth Stadium for its first win ever over Spurrier after 17 straight losses. But the Cats were crushed 54-3 last year in Columbia. UK is just 6-14 against South Carolina since the Gamecocks came into the league in 1992.

Schedule: Key stretch is Oct. 6 through Oct. 20 when South Carolina plays host to Georgia, then travels to LSU and Florida.

John Clay: (859) 231-3226. Twitter: @johnclayiv. Blog: johnclay.bloginky.com

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