South Carolina-Kentucky notes: Cats know Spurrier won't let up

jsmith3@herald-leader.comSeptember 28, 2012 

For Kentucky's players, it's hard to forget South Carolina had a huge lead going into the fourth quarter last season and still was slinging the ball around with its backups.

Despite carrying a 33-3 lead into the fourth quarter, the Gamecocks threw six passes in the final nine minutes, completing five of the six, including one for a touchdown for the backup quarterback.

"It takes a little bit out of you when a team comes at you like that and doesn't let up," UK center Matt Smith said.

Kentucky defensive coordinator Rick Minter said that kind of thing is just what South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier does.

"They haven't changed; They've done that the first four games," he said. "I expect that to be the norm if they have that opportunity.

"Spurrier's not changing; that's who he is: a quarterback at heart who loves to throw the ball. ... Even the last play of the game, they don't take knees. They just keep getting reps to the next unit. That's kind of their attitude about it: keep firing away, keep doing their offense. It's our job to stop them, not their job to take the air out of the ball. It's going to be our job to make sure they can't do that."

In second halves this season, the No. 6 Gamecocks have outscored opponents 72-20, including 37-14 in fourth quarters.

Senior cornerback Mikie Benton said Kentucky has to remember what happened late in the game last season, but move forward.

"We allowed it to happen," he said. "We just have to learn from those mistakes we were making last year and work hard and make it so that they're not able to do that again."

South Carolina connections

For Kentucky senior defender Cartier Rice, it will be his last chance to compete against the school from his home state and to look across the field and see former Byrnes High School teammate Marcus Lattimore. He also has several good friends and former all-star game teammates on the Gamecocks' sideline.

But Rice said he hasn't had much time to talk with any of them before Saturday's game. "It's hard at this level, there's just not much free time," he said.

Rice played a role in UK's 31-28 upset over South Carolina at Commonwealth Stadium two years ago when he deflected the potential game-winning touchdown pass into the hands of teammate Anthony Mosley. That all seems like a long time ago to the UK veteran, who has 16 tackles this season in three games.

"It was definitely an accomplishment overall for me and our team," Rice said. "I probably wouldn't worry about it past that. It was a win that day. It's two years later and it's a different time, a different age and different players. We're just looking to execute and get this win Saturday."

Rice has been battling a deep thigh bruise all fall and missed the last game against Florida. He was listed as questionable to play this weekend.

"I am progressing," he said. "We're taking it day to day. Hopefully Saturday looks good. It's a contusion with my thigh that recurred from the spring and it had some traumatic swelling, but we're taking it day to day."

'The star was bornon our day'

Last season's game against Kentucky was a coming out party of sorts for South Carolina's Connor Shaw, who threw for a career-high 311 yards and four touchdowns in the 54-3 Gamecocks win.

"Last year, remember the star was born on our day," Minter said of Shaw.

His star could get a little shinier Saturday, again against Kentucky. If he completes his first four passes, he will set the Southeastern Conference record for most consecutive completions.

Shaw completed his final 20 pass attempts in a win over Missouri last week, tying him for the second-longest consecutive completions streak with Mississippi's Kent Austin (1982). If he completes four straight to open the UK game, he will be one better than former Tennessee star Tee Martin's 1998 record.

"I don't think he's big on individual things like that," Coach Steve Spurrier said of Shaw, who finished the day at Missouri completing 20 of his 21 attempts. "It'd be neat if it happens, but we will let it happen in the normal course of the game this week."

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241Twitter: @jenheraldleaderBlog: ukfootball.bloginky.com

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