South Carolina’s first home game of the season is 7:30 p.m. Saturday against the Kentucky Wildcats (2-0) on the SEC Network. The Gamecocks are 2-0 and 1-0 in SEC play.
Here’s what Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said in his weekly news conference Monday specifically about the matchup with the Gamecocks. Read his full remarks here.
On how significant success against USC has been in building program: “Well, at the time they were big wins, of course. I don’t think they mean much going into this game, but there were some good times and some good games. But this is a new year.”
On how he prepares team for atmosphere he expects at USC: “It was good to go on the road week one and get the win. We all know this atmosphere will be quite different. I was really, I guess pretty amazed really the first time I ever played down there with the atmosphere. It was fantastic. Really great venue. It will be a real challenge, but we have to embrace that. We’re going to have to play much better football in a lot of areas. They’ve played very well with two quality wins. They’ve been very sound. They’ve played very clean football. They’re just like us: They’re plus-four in the turnovers. They’ve played solid on offense and on defense, and they’ve gotten the two big kickoff returns that have sparked them also. They’ve played really solid football, they’re well-coached. It will be a real challenge. It is quite an atmosphere, and our players have just got to concentrate on us and embrace what we do. That’s what makes it fun to go into hostile environments like this. We got to be up for the challenge.”
On if he was surprised by that atmosphere: “I had never played there before. It was quite an atmosphere, it was good, it was cool. It’s a neat place. As we make our way through most of the Southeastern Conference – I’ve been to most but I haven’t been to all of them yet with the schedule the way it is – we’ve had an opportunity to be here a few times. At least we know what we’re getting into.”
On what Deebo Samuel does well on kickoff return: “He’s electric, he’s a playmaker, he’s got great vision. Like any great returner, you’ve gotta have top-end speed. He obviously has top-end speed to make people miss, but he also have vision. That’s when you know you have a very good football player. He does a lot of things. They want the ball in his hands, he’s got quick-hand touches, he does things on reverses, little fly sweeps, punt and kick returns — many different ways. Obviously they’ll isolate him to get you one-on-one in the passing game.”
On what he sees on film from Jake Bentley: “Just a good, good quarterback. Good strong arm, he knows where to go with the ball. He’s getting some playmakers around him and they’re getting good balance in what they do. He’s a good player.”
On Stoops’ relationship with Will Muschamp: “I’ve known Will for a long time. I have great respect for Will. Both defensive guys. We both look like football and talking ball. He’s a good coach. I expect a very good game but I like Will personally. I think he’s a good guy and does things the right way.”
On how important USC game is for the rest of the season: “It’s super important because it’s the next game. We never look beyond that. So how it affects the rest of the year doesn’t even enter our mind, to be honest with you. It’s guns loaded and ready to go to work to prepare the best we can to go play a quality team on the road in the SEC. So we don’t need any more motivation than that.”
On already having a road game under the belt: “I think it helps. I really do. I think it helps. This will be quite different. But I think it does help us, just the routine and some of those guys who hadn’t been through it before.”