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Stoops: Explosive plays will be “big piece” of South Carolina game

Kash Daniel hopes to be celebrating more UK touchdowns Saturday. (Vicky Graff Photo)


Kentucky coach Mark Stoops doesn’t have a hard time warning his teams about the explosive plays that South Carolina can make because the Gamecocks did it to UK last year before the Cats rallied to win in Columbia, S.C.

“To their credit they really made some big plays early in that game. They’re tough and they’re explosive as we saw on the opening play of the game (last year when South Carolina scored). But we have to play, and we have to execute,” Stoops said.

“So you always have to have the intensity level up, but as I mentioned that’s all the time. That’s during the week and in our prep and it’s about execution. That’s how we’ve gone about it. Sure, our team has been excited and ready to play, but they’ve be the first one to tell you when you listen they’ve been excited to practice. So, how we execute and the way we play I think is most important.”

Yet Stoops knows explosive plays will be a “big part” of Saturday’s game when UK tries to beat South Carolina for the fifth straight ime.

“Definitely a big part of the storyline because it goes without saying now. With the line of scrimmage, but with the way both teams can run the ball and with numbers the way they are, it’s definitely going to be a lot on the perimeter this week. Who makes the explosive plays and who defends the explosive plays. It’ll be a big piece of the game,” the Kentucky coach said.

South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley seems like a more mature, confident player to Stoops than he was last year.

“He could be confident with those guys he’s got around. He’s got some real talented players and they’re a real talented offensive team. You can see they’re more physical with Eric Wolford, their offensive line coach there. I know his mentality. They’re doing a really good job,” Stoops said.

The Gamecocks have a more up tempo offense this year, something the UK defense has not faced this season. However, UK’s veteran defense has played against fast-paced defenses in prior years.

“The experience always helps. It’ll help if you get off the field, so hopefully we’ll play good and get effective and get some stops because if they get rolling it puts a lot of pressure on you,” Stoops said. “So we practice it; we practice against our offense with it.

“The guys have been good, but you have to execute, be effective and try to get them behind the chains. When they’re going that fast, obviously they try to steal some off of you.”


  1. Big plays are nice, and I hope UK has its share tonight, and I hope UK curtails the big plays by South Carolina. But the secret to UK’s success this season has been in the trenches. Here is how we can tell.

    1. UK is winning first downs.

    This season in 4 games, UK has averaged 32 first down plays per game to 28 for opponents, and UK has averaged 6.5 yds per 1st down play while limiting opponents to only 3.0 yds/1st down play.

    2. UK is winning 3rd downs

    This season, UK has converted 53.6% of its 48 3rd down plays into first downs while holding opponents to 46.4%. UK’s 53.6% conversion rate is the best since 2010’s 52.0%, and is good enough to put UK near the top 10 in college football (#10 is 54.7%).

    3. UK is winning 4th downs

    This season, UK has converted 4 of its 5 4th down conversion attempts while stopping opponents 4 out of 5 times on their 4th downs.

    This is how teams win college football games without relying on gimmicks.

    This is the formula for success tonight.

  2. How did South Carolina’s gimmick offense work out for them last night in the first half?

    Not so much.

    UK won the battle of first downs, and UK won the battle of yards per play from scrimmage. That is how to win at this level.

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