LEXINGTON, Ky. — The season script was flipped as Kentucky’s defense won the Wildcats a game.
Kentucky held South Carolina to 10 points to improve to 2-2 on the season with the 17-10 win. It was a crucial game for Kentucky, and maybe for Mark Stoops’ future.
Here’s how it happened.
It was a drive spanning the end of the third quarter to the early stages of the fourth. Kentucky ran the ball 11 straight times, every play of the nearly five-minute drive. Freshman RB Benny Snell powered the drive, getting the ball seven times in a row during one stretch.
He lined up in the wildcat formation and walked into the end zone to cap off the drive. Snell’s score came off a four-touchdown performance last Saturday.
— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) September 25, 2016
It was a battle pitting a bad UK defense against a bad South Carolina offense. Kentucky’s defense showed up and South Carolina’s offense didn’t. It’s hard to gauge the performance against the Gamecocks offense, but it’s by far the best effort defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot’s side has shown in 2016.
The running game carried Kentucky’s offense as the game plan didn’t put too much pressure on QB Stephen Johnson. It was his first career start, but how much will coaches let Stephen Johnson loose in the future? He was restricted to short and intermediate passes, but that game plan will only last for so long.
South Carolina was 3-13 on third down. Kentucky came into the ballgame 127th in the nation in opponent third down conversion rates. The defense was able to get off the field for the first time this season and it paid off in a big way. After allowing 44, 45 and 42 points to start the season, UK held South Carolina to 10.
What it means
It’s Kentucky’s third win in a row against South Carolina. A loss to the Gamecocks would’ve had the Wildcats staring at 1-4 with a trip to Alabama next weekend, but that’s no longer the case. All is not well, but all is much better for Mark Stoops and company after this one.