COLUMBIA, S.C. — Injuries to cornerbacks Trevard Lindley and Paul Warford forced Kentucky to start two youngsters against South Carolina, sophomore Randall Burden and true freshman Martavious Neloms.
The results went about as expected. South Carolina true freshman receiver Alshon Jeffery burned the Cats for seven catches, 138 yards and three TDs. Jeffery originally committed to Southern Cal and was recruited by Kentucky before signing with the Gamecocks.
The UK corners were in position on many of the big plays but often failed to turn around and play the ball.
"It was a learning experience, and the thing we can build upon is that they were in great position," UK defensive coordinator Steve Brown said. "It's not like they were beat. Now we just have to teach them to look for the ball and have the confidence to try and make a play."
UK Coach Rich Brooks said it's unlikely Lindley and Warford will return this week, so Neloms and Burden will have to be ready at No. 17 Auburn on Saturday. Redshirt freshman Cartier Rice and sophomore Taiedo Smith also saw action at corner.
"They're getting baptism under fire," Brooks said. "We don't have a lot of experience on the perimeter."
Peters has career day
Senior defensive tackle Corey Peters had his best day as a Wildcat, finishing with a career-high seven tackles and 21/2 sacks.
It was the most productive game of the year for the Kentucky defensive line, which got constant pressure on South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia. Brown said his linemen were confident they could get to Garcia.
"I'm excited for that, especially when they think they can beat a guy," Brown said. "I just said, 'OK, let's go get 'em."
Redshirt freshman defensive end Taylor Wyndham, who became a national name after his hit on Florida's Tim Tebow, forced Garcia to fumble.
"He's had a lot of Facebook time the last couple of weeks," Brooks said of Wyndham.
"He's a football player," Brown said. "That was a great play he made."
Though he was happy with how he played, Peters was disappointed that he was out of position on Kenny Miles' 26-yard run to the UK 1-yard line in the fourth quarter. South Carolina scored on the next play to make it 28-20.
"I just got a little too over-aggressive and got out of my gap," Peters said. "I feel like I was completely responsible for that last touchdown, so it's kind of hard to be happy with the performance or satisfied with the performance."
Special teams struggles
The UK special teams had a rough day, giving up a pair of long kickoff returns to Chris Culliver that led to touchdowns. Ryan Tydlacka also misfired on a 5-yard punt that helped South Carolina pad its lead in the fourth quarter, and Randall Cobb was stopped for a 3-yard loss on a fake field-goal attempt.
The one bright spot was kicker Lones Seiber, who connected on field goals of 36 and 35 yards after hitting a pair of 49-yarders against Alabama last week.