Photo: Madison MacDonald / The Daily Gamecock

Keys to victory: Gamecocks must spread ball offensively against Kentucky

The South Carolina football team opens at Williams-Brice Stadium against SEC foe Kentucky on Saturday. The Wildcats have won the last three meetings with the Gamecocks, each decided by one touchdown or less. 

Both South Carolina and Kentucky roll into this contest 2-0. The Gamecocks defeated two Power 5 teams — N.C. State and Missouri — in the first two weeks of the season. Along with Louisville, South Carolina is one of two teams in the country with two Power 5 wins away from home to start the season. Conversely, the Wildcats hold two non-Power 5 wins against Southern Mississippi and Eastern Kentucky. This matchup should be a good test for the Wildcats to see how they fare against a Power 5 and SEC opponent. 

Having to wait two weeks to play at Williams-Brice Stadium, head coach Will Muschamp knows the environment will be rocking. 

“Regardless of our record, our fans will be ready to go. I do know that. They’ll be excited, and I know our players will be excited to play for them,” Muschamp said in his weekly press conference on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Gamecocks have been rolling. The team has scored at least 31 points in each of its first two games, while holding an explosive Missouri team to 13 points last Saturday. South Carolina has also come up big on special teams this season, including two kickoff return touchdowns from versatile playmaker Deebo Samuel, and a muffed punt recovery by Javon Charleston. 

Kentucky has been productive on both offense and defense as well. The Wildcats have scored more than 20 points in both contests, allowing 17 points or fewer in both games. Quarterback Stephen Johnson has thrown for 400 yards this season with a pair of touchdowns and has looked effective under center for Kentucky. While they've only played non-Power 5 teams, the Wildcats hold positive takeaways and are looking to build off their first two victories.  

How the Wildcats can win

The Wildcats will need to put long drives together and control time of possession to top the Gamecocks. They need to try to give South Carolina the ball as minimal as possible and work the clock. They also need to effectively cover Samuel, who has scored three different ways this season from receiving to kickoff return to rushing. Look for him to draw a lot of attention from the Kentucky defense. 

How the Gamecocks can win

The Gamecocks can win by using their offensive arsenal, utilizing players such as Bryan Edwards, Hayden Hurst and Samuel on touches. When the Gamecocks spread the ball around, they are much more effective offensively. For example, Hurst received four receptions and one carry, and scored two touchdowns, opening up more opportunities for the Gamecock offense. USC will likely plan to keep that strategy on offense, seeking to put up 30-plus points for the third week in a row.



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