South Carolina's defense continues to shine in rout

Kentucky kickoff returner Mychal Bailey is upended by South Carolina's Akeem Auguste during the second quarter Saturday. The Gamecocks defense held the 'Cats to 96 yards.

COLUMBIA — South Carolina’s defense failed to score a touchdown in Saturday’s blowout victory against Kentucky.


But for the second time this season, the Game­cocks limited their opponent to fewer than 100 yards of offense. Kentucky could only produce 96 yards in the 54-3 loss, including only 17 passing.

In the 21-3 win against Vanderbilt two weeks ago, South Carolina held the Commodores to 77 total yards.

“The defense was outstanding,” South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said. “The defense kept getting it back and getting it back.”

South Carolina forced six turnovers to give the team 22 for the season. The Gamecocks entered Saturday ranked third in the nation in takeaways, trailing only Cincinnati and Rutgers.

Ellis Johnson’s “Garnet and Black” unit also held Kentucky to just six first downs.

“When we have a defense as fast as we are, if you play by assignment and stay in position you will get your share,” Johnson said. “I think what is really helping us right now is our pass rush, and we have blitzed very little over the past few weeks.”

INGRAM PLAYS: South Carolina defensive end Melvin Ingram did see action Saturday after being listed as questionable all week because of a left foot strain.

That was news to Spurrier, who said he didn’t know his star even got into the game.

“He did?” Spurrier asked after telling the media that Ingram should be ready for next week’s game at Mississippi State. “I thought his uniform was clean. I came to him after the game and said guess what, Melvin? You aren’t getting a game ball today.”

Ingram was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against Auburn, which featured 11 tackles, 3.5 sacks and an interception. For the season, he has scored three touchdowns and has been honored multiple times for his play.

Against Kentucky, Ingram recorded one tackle and was used primarily on third downs to apply pressure to Kentucky quarterback Morgan Newton.

MOVING UP: Receiver Alshon Jeffery continues to climb in the school’s record book. With six catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns Saturday, Jeffery is now tied for second in career receiving touchdowns with 19.

Jeffery is fourth in career receptions with 159, and he needs just 64 yards to surpass Kenny McKinley for all-time receiving yards.

NOT SO SPECIAL: Place-kicker Jay Wooten, who was spot on early in the year, missed a pair of kicks in the first half.

He had a point-after touchdown attempt blocked, and he missed wide right on a 44-yard field goal just before the half.

Gamecock return man Bruce Ellington fumbled the opening kickoff to allow Kentucky to take a 3-0 lead early in the game. He later scored his first career touchdown on a 61-yard run out of the wildcat formation.

Wooten redemeed himself with field goals of 48 and 42 yards in the third quarter.