In last night’s game, South Carolina fans learned a lot about where we’ve come from as a football team as well as where we’re going. The first half was a prime example of one of South Carolina’s most enduring characteristics: the ability to lose games that should have been easy victories. However, the second half taught us a great lesson about some of the traits that have come to define our program: resilience, grit, talent, winning. Though we’ve all got our opinions as to what exactly happened Saturday night in Lexington, here are a few things I took from the game.
1. Game Ball: Marcus Lattimore. In case you missed the game, the junior from Duncan, S.C., is finally back. Though he wore a sleeve on his knee, Lattimore made his signature cuts as well as he ever has, putting the team squarely on his back on the way to a 21-point victory over the Wildcats. South Carolina fans were treated to seeing flashes of the Lattimore we all know and love, including his intense downhill running style and broken tackles galore. With 136 total yards and two touchdowns on the ground, Lattimore was more than impressive against Kentucky, and USC fans can only hope he stays at this level for the rest of the season.
2. The Gamecock defense was just as opportunistic as ever. Though the defense had its issues in the first half, Lorenzo Ward had his unit on point after halftime. The defensive line came out firing on all cylinders, chewing up Kentucky’s offensive line for seven sacks and forcing two turnovers late in the game. What’s more, the South Carolina defense came up big when it counted, including a red zone stop to prevent the Wildcats from going up 24-7 before halftime
3. Spurrier, offense getting back to the basics. It became apparent that the offensive system South Carolina has run for the past three week isn’t one the team can depend on every game. When things break down in the offensive game plan–as they did tonight when Connor Shaw couldn’t get anything going in the first half–it is important that South Carolina can adapt and switch to an offensive scheme that better tailors to their needs, just as they did against Kentucky tonight. When the going got tough, the Gamecock offense got tougher, running an unusual amount of plays from under center and powering their way over the Wildcats en route to the end zone.
4. South Carolina needs to refocus, start off strong next week. South Carolina’s start to this game was a little disconcerting. With two three-and-outs and a turnover on downs in the first in their first three possessions, the Gamecocks stumbled into a 17-7 hole they had to dig themselves out of in the second half. Though USC got away with coming into this game seemingly unprepared, the odds of doing so next week against #5 Georgia are not nearly as feasible.