Date story published: Sunday, October 07, 2001
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- University of Kentucky football coach Guy Morriss just wanted his team to give itself a shot at upsetting No. 13 South Carolina yesterday.
But as things turned out, the only shots the Cats fired seemed to land at their own feet.
UK, a 22-point underdog, buried itself in an avalanche of first-half mistakes, allowing the Gamecocks to build a 28-point halftime lead and cruise to a 42-6 victory in front of 80,250 at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Morriss took the blame for the loss,
"I did a really lousy job this week getting our players ready to play and our coaches ready to coach," Morriss said. "As a staff we didn't do a very good job this week, and it showed today.
"Ultimately, how we perform is my responsibility. And we didn't execute on offense, we didn't execute on defense. A couple of times, we got the wrong personnel on the field for what we were trying to call, and that was just a screw-up on our part. I just think we need to go back and reduce what we're asking our kids to do, and to some degree, we've got to straighten out our dang coaches on the sideline."
South Carolina (5-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) did not dominate statistically. The Gamecocks had just 76 more total yards than Kentucky (402-326), picked up five more first downs and had the ball two minutes less than the Wildcats.
Errors did in the Cats. UK (1-4, 0-3 SEC) turned over the ball four times, but perhaps the biggest mistake was of the mental variety.
With the game scoreless late in the first quarter, the Cats' defense stuffed Derek Watson for a 6-yard loss on third-and-1 at the UK 49.
A melee ensued after the whistle had blown, and UK defensive back Derrick Tatum was called for a personal foul for taking a shot at Watson. Instead of punting, the Gamecocks received an automatic first down at the UK 40. From there, South Carolina needed just six plays to get the game's first score, a 1-yard dive by Andrew Pinnock with 2:52 left in the opening period.
"All I saw was a bunch of pushing, shoving and scuffling," Morriss said. "I think Derrick just lost his composure. It's always going to be the last to push that gets the flag, and that's what happened."
The personal foul seemed to have a snowball effect. UK went three-and-out on its next series; and, thanks in large part to a 58-yard burst by Watson, Carolina needed just two plays and 27 seconds to take a 14-0 lead on quarterback Phil Petty's 14-yard keeper.
UK's Octavius Bond fumbled the ensuing kickoff deep in his own territory. After an offside call against Kentucky, Petty found Corey Alexander for a 23-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the first quarter.
Even when the Cats made good plays they found a way to botch things up. After Alexander's touchdown, Artose Pinner broke through the South Carolina line and burst downfield for what could have been an 80-yard touchdown run. But Pinner, who had a couple of steps on South Carolina defensive back Andre Goodman, stumbled and was brought down at the 23. Four plays later, Seth Hanson had a 42-yard field-goal attempt blocked.
Pinnock added another touchdown five minutes before halftime, and the Gamecocks led 28-0.
Kentucky did put a nice drive together in the fourth quarter, when quarterback Shane Boyd completed all seven of his passes and threw a 28-yard touchdown to Aaron Boone to make it 35-6 with 10:26 remaining.
Boyd started yesterday and went the whole way, completing 20 of 36 passes for 188 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Backup Jared Lorenzen spent the afternoon on the sideline in a baseball cap.
"We feel like Shane is the guy that gives us the best chance to win, and he needs to be playing," Morriss said. "He's going through some growing pains, and the only way you overcome that is to let him play. So that was the decision we decided to go with, and it's like I've heard before: The backup guy's always your best quarterback."
Again, the UK offense was plagued by dropped passes and spotty protection from the offensive line.
"(Boyd) is a kid that's extremely blessed with a lot of ability, but he is not ready to carry this football team," Morriss said. "The 10 other guys have to realize that, and when it's your time to step up and make a play, you've got to get it done."
Morriss points to Petty, a three-year starter who took his lumps during South Carolina's 0-11 season two years ago but has developed into an efficient quarterback, as an example in exercising patience with Boyd, a redshirt freshman making his fourth career start. Petty finished 10-for-16 passing for 112 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for a touchdown.
"It's kind of a parallel, the same situation," Morriss said. "We've got a young freshman quarterback that's played about three or four games, and he's still learning the system. (Petty) is comfortable with their system because he's been in it for three years and it's been consistent and hasn't changed. I don't think you can change offenses every other week because people say it's not working and we're struggling. We believe in what we're doing, and we're going to keep teaching it. We're not going to scrap everything we're doing."
The Cats also suffered some key injuries, but defensive coordinator John Goodner said the primary concern is the psyche of the Wildcats.
"The thing I worry about is not so much our physical stature as our mental stature," Goodner said. "From here on out, the mental part of it is a hell of lot more important than the physical."