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October 3, 2011
Gamecock offense features balanced attack
Florida beats you with the speed of their tailbacks. Louisiana State wears you down with a power running game.
But South Carolina might have the best running back in the conference.
Sophomore Marcus Lattimore leads the Southeastern conference with 677 rushing yards this season. He also has nine rushing touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns. Kentucky (2-3, 0-2 SEC) will face another powerful rushing attack this weekend, but the Gamecocks (4-1, 2-1 SEC) also might have more to offer in the passing game than any previous Kentucky opponent.
"I think this game will test us in the secondary more than any other team we played," senior linebacker Ronnie Sneed said.
South Carolina's passing attack is led by junior receiver Alshon Jeffery[db], who has 332 receiving yards and two touchdowns this season. He had over 1,500 yards receiving and nine touchdowns last year.
He also has a history of success against UK. He had his coming out party against the Wildcats in 2009, catching seven passes for 138 yards and three touchdowns. Last year, he had six catches for 65 yards and a touchdown.
But he could be catching passes from a different signal caller this weekend. South Carolina coach [db]Steve Spurrier told reporters on Sunday he was considering benching senior quarterback Stephen Garcia, who has thrown nine interceptions against four touchdowns this year, for sophomore Connor Shaw. Shaw has just 11 pass attempts this season, which presents a challenge for the UK defense as they try to game plan.
"Anytime we don't have a lot of film on a player, we're kind of left in a gray area," senior linebacker Ronnie Sneed said. "We might not know as much about them as we like to. I'm sure we'll still prepare for Garcia, because you never know what's going to happen."
But Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips said it wouldn't change the way they prepare. Unlike against LSU, which started a pro-style quarterback and inserted a running quarterback at times, he said preparing for Garcia and Shaw isn't much different.
"They're going to do what they do," Phillips said. "It's different from the two quarterbacks we saw last week, going back to the athletic guy. These two guys are similar. I've never seen a Spurrier team that had a dropback passer and an athletic guy at quarterback. His system doesn't change, his playcalling doesn't change."
Things won't get much easier for Kentucky's offense either. The offensive line, which has surrendered the most sacks in the conference, will face two of the SEC's top pass rushers this week. Defensive end Melvin Ingram leads the league with five sacks, while true freshman Jadevon Clowney has four.
"If freshmen could come out (for the NFL Draft), he'd be the number one pick," Phillips said.
Phillips not worried about job
Phillips was asked on Monday if he was concerned about his job at his press conference. He's 8-10 since being named head coach at UK.
"No, I don't," he said. "I've got a good job. No question about that. I don't worry about it."
He was also asked if he wished former UK quarterback Ryan Mossakowski hadn't transferred.
"I don't want to talk about guys who left us," he said. "Why would I? We talk about Randall probably a little too much, he left us also. I'm not going to answer that question."
Mossakowski redshirted in 2009 after signing in the same class as Newton and played sparingly in 2010. At Northwest Mississippi Junior College this fall, Mossakowski has completed 114 of 194 passes, a 58.8 percent completion percentage, for 1,659 yards, 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions in five games. He's also rushed for five touchdowns.
Junior defensive end Collins Ukwu will be out. He suffered a knee sprain on Sept. 22 and has missed the last two games.
Sophomore tailback Raymond Sanders, who underwent knee surgery on Sept. 15 and was expected to miss 2-3 weeks, ran yesterday. He'll be examined today to determine his status for practice this week.
Senior defensive tackle Mark Crawford, who played in his first game on Saturday after being suspended the first four games of the season, sprained his AC (shoulder) and is expected to miss practice on Tuesday. He is considered probable for Saturday's game.
Sophomore center Sam Simpson injured his back and will be out. Junior wide receiver Gene McCaskill, who missed the last two games with a back injury, is questionable.