By LARRY VAUGHT
Earlier this week Kentucky coach Mark Stoops really didn’t want to talk a lot about South Carolina coach Will Muschamp going into Saturday night’s game at Columbia.
On Tuesday the South Carolina coach said he had a “lot of respect” for the job Stoops has done — including five straight wins over South Carolina.
However, he has even more respect for UK junior Lynn Bowden, Kentucky’s leading receiver and best playmaker.
“Lynn Bowden is a guy that really jumps off the tape. He’s a very good player. They play him at quarterback, running back and in the slot. They get the ball to him in the return game,” Muschamp said.
“He’s really electric with the ball in his hands, an outstanding competitor and a really, really good football player.”
What about the UK running game?
“Both backs, (A.J.) Rose and (Kavosiey) Smok are good football players,” Muschamp said. “We recruited Kavosiey and have a lot of respect for him.”
He knows plenty about receiver Ahmad Wagner, too.
“He’s a mismatch on the edges as far as jump balls. He’s a really good football player and has made a bunch of plays for them in four games,” Muschamp said.
He says UK starting quarterback Sawyer Smith is not Terry Wilson, who went down with a season-ending knee injury in game two.
“He has legs and able to extend plays for them. He was a really good runner at Troy, so we’ve done a lot of research, as far as those things are concerned, so I don’t know that how much it changes what they do,” Muschamp said.
“They want to run the football, play-action and that’s kind of their mantra since (Stoops) has been there. But I don’t know how much it changes anything.”
Muschamp knows Stoops would be content to run the ball 40 plus times per game even though UK did throw 42 passes in last week’s loss at Mississippi State.
“You’ve got to understand that mindset and mentality (about running). There’s going to be some third (and short yardage plays) – you’ve got to win in those situations, because that’s where they keep the drives alive and they keep expending the time,” Muschamp said.
“And that’s sort of their makeup of what they want to do, offensively, so you’ve got to get off the field on third-down. Third-down is important all the time, but especially when you play a team like this that’s willing to be very patient. When you get inside third-and-3-to-6, they’re willing to run the football. Those are times that a lot of teams, once it becomes third-down, a run won’t be called. In this ball game, that’s different.”