Mark Story

After another dismal loss, can UK find enough offense to save its season?

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Game day: Kentucky at South Carolina

Click below for more of Kentucky.com’s coverage of the Kentucky-South Carolina football game.

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Instant analysis (gleaned from the SEC Network telecast) from Kentucky’s 24-7 loss to South Carolina:

How the game was won

Tavien Feaster ran for 107 yards and two touchdowns, Rico Dowdle ran for 102 yards and a score and the South Carolina defense dominated a mostly-punchless Kentucky offense as the Gamecocks emphatically snapped their five-game losing skid against the Wildcats.

Game balls

1. Will Muschamp. If it’s true the South Carolina head man was coaching for his job, he will wake up Sunday confident in his employment.

2. Rico Dowdle and Tavien Feaster. A week after South Carolina ran for a net 16 yards in a loss at Missouri, the resurgent Gamecocks running game dominated UK.

3. D.J. Wonnum. The South Carolina “rush end” had three quarterback sacks and made Kentucky’s offensive tackles look bad.

4. Max Duffy. Steve Spurrier was in the house at Williams-Brice Stadium and Duffy (nine kicks for an average of 51.1 yards with four stopped inside the South Carolina 20) showed the Head Ball Coach that Kentucky still has a heck of a punter.

Reasons for worry

1. The Kentucky offense. Pretty much hopeless until one late-game scoring drive with wide receiver Lynn Bowden playing quarterback.

2. UK quarterback play. What was clearly a physically-subpar Sawyer Smith took one for the team and stood in against a fierce South Carolina pass rush to throw 32 pass attempts. The graduate transfer quarterback completed only 11, was sacked four times and had two more crucial turnovers.

3. Kentucky tackling. The UK defense had some positive moments, but for the second straight game the Wildcats surrendered way too many yards after initial contact.

4. The UK season. Would moving Lynn Bowden to quarterback allow Kentucky to find enough offense to save a season in jeopardy of going off the rails?

In 2008, the Rich Brooks coaching staff moved wideout Randall Cobb to quarterback midway through a season at risk. Cobb went only 1-3 as the UK starter, but did lead the Wildcats to the victory, a 14-13 win at Mississippi State, that allowed the Cats to gain bowl eligibility.

Key number(s)

Three of 27. Over its past two games, the Kentucky offense has converted a first down on only three of 27 third-down attempts.

Fashion police

For its fifth game of the 2019 season, Kentucky wore silver chrome helmets, white jerseys with blue numbers and letters and white pants. In 2018, UK went 3-0 (wins over South Carolina, Louisville and Penn State in the VRBO Citrus Bowl) in silver chrome helmets.

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Mark Story has worked in the Lexington Herald-Leader sports department since Aug. 27, 1990, and has been a Herald-Leader sports columnist since 2001. I have covered every Kentucky-Louisville football game since 1994, every UK-U of L basketball game but three since 1996-97 and every Kentucky Derby since 1994.
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