I didn’t get to watch this game live and I’m kinda glad I knew the outcome before I saw the game because RAAAAAAAAAAAAAGE.
Anyway, on to the recap.
Much like Steve Spurrier, I don’t want to get too negative. That being said, this game was not exactly full of good things.
First of all, Jadeveon Clowney apparently informed the coaches right before the game that he wasn’t going to be playing because of his rib injury. On the one hand, okay, you shouldn’t play if you’re legitimately injured and can’t go. On the other hand, Clowney has had an awful lot of injury/sickness issues this season, and it’s not even half over. Valid problems or excuses? I’ll let y’all judge for yourself, but things are getting a little shady if you ask me. Also, the HBC was hardly pleased with No. 7′s choice, so there’s that.
The No. 13 Gamecocks were 21-point favorites in this game, and they got the scoring started early, when Connor Shaw (who was playing with some sort of shoulder situation, but I guess it wasn’t very serious) hit Damiere Byrd with a 62-yard touchdown pass less than two minutes into the game. Mike Davis ran 22 yards to the house later in the quarter, then USC tacked on another TD to open the second quarter, when Davis took it in again.
The Wildcats answered with a touchdown of their own to end the shut out, and Elliott Fry banged home a field goal from 40 yards out right before halftime to put the Cocks on top 24-7 heading into the locker rooms.
To give Carolina a little more insurance, Fry connected on another field goal, this one from 41 yards away, in the third quarter. Then things got ugly. UK opened the fourth quarter with a TD, then found the end zone again two minutes later, after an unfortunate fumble by Bruce Ellington. That made the score 27-21 in favor of the home team.
Shaw took matters into his own hands and rushed for a touchdown, then tossed a successful two-point conversion to who – Nick Jones! - giving the Gamecocks a little more breathing room, but the unimpressive defense allowed the Wildcats to find the end zone one more time. Fortunately, that was the end of the scoring for the night, and South Carolina escaped with a 35-28 win.
A win is a win, of course, but to give up that many points at home to a crummy team is not good. And it doesn’t bode well for the upcoming three-away-games-in-a-row, either. This whole Clowney thing is becoming ridiculous, and while I’m super glad to see the offense getting things done, it’d be nice if the defense could do the same. I don’t think Clowney’s absence tonight was the reason that things didn’t go well, because it’s not like the defense has been stellar at any point this year. We’re five games in and it’s past time to put up or shut up. Someone on the unit needs to step up and be a leader, and it needs to happen ASAP.
The Cocks tallied 22 first downs compared to Kentucky’s 19 and outgained them in total yardage 453-301. USC turned the ball over once and the teams split time of possession about equally.
Shaw finished the night an impressive 17-of-20 for 262 yards and a TD and the Wildcats’ Jalen Whitlow was 17-of-24 for 178 yards and two touchdowns. Davis led Carolina in rushing with 21 carries for 106 yards and two TDs and Byrd led them in receiving with five catches for 98 yards and a touchdown. Whitlow had 69 yards and a TD on 17 carries and Javess Blue had four receptions for 62 yards to lead UK.
South Carolina improves to 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the SEC. Kentucky drops to 1-4 overall and 0-2 in conference play. The Gamecocks will be on the road next weekend against Arkansas and the Wildcats will host No. 1 Alabama.