LEXINGTON, Ky. – Stop reading when it starts sounding familiar.
South Carolina was playing at Kentucky on Saturday when a running back took over for the Wildcats in the fourth quarter.
The Gamecocks (2-2) struggled to stop the run throughout, but especially in the final frame as the Wildcats (2-2) won 17-10 in Lexington.
Running back Benny Snell stomped on the Gamecocks to open the fourth quarter when his number was called. The freshman ran through tackles and over defenders to lead what would be the game-winning drive, while Jojo Kemp – the 2014 USC killer – was watching from the sideline.
A.J. Turner had a 12-yard touchdown for South Carolina. It was the first rushing score of his career and gave USC its only lead of the day – a 7-3 lead that last for a full quarter.
South Carolina wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Randrecous Davis did not play due to injury.
Moment that mattered
Kentucky had little issue running the ball with Williams. But when the Wildcats turned to Snell – last week’s UK star – the game’s momentum went all the way in their favor.
Snell got the ball on the seven straight plays to start the drive after USC tied the game 10-10 late in the third. He was there to hammer it in from the 1-yard line as Kentucky responded with a gutsy drive.
Almost hurdled him. pic.twitter.com/A9uWjtuFy4
— Michael Casagrande (@ByCasagrande) September 25, 2016
How long is the leash on Brandon McIlwain?
McIlwain played the whole game against East Carolina in his first career start. But still the question remained this week if it would be his show from start to finish against Kentucky.
McIlwain and the USC offense was stagnant to open the game. The freshman still was under center for every drive even with just 42 yards through the first four drives.
He rewarded the confidence with a nice touchdown drive in the second, but the offense sputtered almost the entire second half. Still, it is clear the job belongs to McIlwain and it should be that way as the offense goes through growing pains as a group.
Is the South Carolina offensive line going to get any better … ever?
It made sense to think that South Carolina’s offensive line could really take strides against Kentucky. The Wildcats have been handled by opponents up front and have given up plenty of points.
And two straight games with the same starting offensive line for South Carolina? There was promise. But the unit struggled again.
No moment made that more clear than the final drive, which saw two sacks in the final three plays as McIlwain almost engineered a drive to tie the game.
It will be hard for the offense to take too many strides this season without at least some average blocking.