South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier is 17-0 all-time against Kentucky.
“Yeah, I saw that somewhere,” Spurrier said. “We don’t even talk about it with our guys. I am a big believer that every game stands on its own merit. You learn from history, but we really don’t talk about it much.”
Kentucky fans certainly don’t want to talk about it. Spurrier has not only beaten the Wildcats every time, but he’s embarrassed them many of those times. Spurrier-coached teams have averaged more than 42 points against Kentucky all-time.
In Spurrier’s 12 seasons at Florida, the Wildcats came within a touchdown just once, and some of the Spurrier’s most lopsided wins came against the Wildcats. From 1994-1996, Florida beat Kentucky by a combined score of 180-14
The scores haven’t been nearly as lopsided since Spurrier arrived in Columbia. Three of the last four games in the series have been decided by a touchdown or less. South Carolina leads the all-time series 14-6-1.
“We have to play well if we’re going to beat Kentucky up there,” Spurrier said.
South Carolina’s defense has been preparing as if Kentucky tailback Derrick Locke will play Saturday even though Locke remains questionable due to a stinger.
“You have to be prepared,” South Carolina assistant head coach for defense Ellis Johnson said.
Johnson is very impressed, he said, with the Wildcats’ offense, which is third in the SEC and 21st in the country in scoring at 36 points per game.
“It’s not anything but excellent football players making excellent plays,” Johnson said. “We have had a great week of practice, good focus, but you still have to go play the game.”
South Carolina’s coaches now consider junior Melvin Ingram a defensive end as much as a defensive tackle, Johnson said. Ingram split his time at those two spots against Alabama and had two sacks.
“He has moved out to defensive end now, and he is giving us some reps at both positions,” Johnson said. “He really gave us some good pass rush out there at defensive end so he is really helping out in two places.”
Defensive end Chaz Sutton remains limited to playing only in obvious passing situations because he is wearing a club-like cast that hinders his tackling.
Last season, only two teams in the SEC committed more penalties than the Gamecocks. This season, South Carolina has lost fewer yards to penalties than any team in the league. The Gamecocks have been whistled 24 times for 170 yards. Ole Miss has been flagged fewer times (21) but has given up more yards (181) due to those penalties.
“Obviously, penalties will lose you the game,” senior offensive lineman Hutch Eckerson said. “Penalties are never a good thing. I was proud of the guys for taking it upon themselves not to get careless penalties. Eventually, that will come back to bite you.”