COLUMBIA — Whenever Steve Spurrier and No. 13 South Carolina need to get back on track, Kentucky’s usually there to point the way.
The Gamecocks (3-1, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) will look to return to form tonight, again against the struggling Wildcats (1-3, 0-1).
South Carolina started the season in the top 10 and figured to contend for the SEC and national championships behind a fearsome defense led by All-American Jadeveon Clowney. Instead, the Gamecocks are two games behind Georgia in the league title chase and questioning the defenders nearly every week after squandering big leads the past two games.
Spurrier’s hoping Kentucky once more gets his team heading in the right direction.
“We have some coaching to do if we are going to turn around this season,” Spurrier said. “We have been on the verge of really blowing a couple games, and we know that, us coaches know that. We are going to try to coach a whole bunch better and see if we can’t be fundamentally sound if we get in position to put a team away.”
Facing Kentucky could be a good start.
The Gamecocks have won 12 of the past 13 in the series and Spurrier is 19-1 all-time against the Wildcats. In Spurrier’s South Carolina debut season of 2005, the Gamecocks were 1-3 when a 44-16 win over Kentucky began a five-game win streak in what was their best-ever showing in the SEC with a -5-3 conference mark.
Two years ago the last time Kentucky came to Williams-Brice Stadium, Connor Shaw took over as starting quarterback on a fulltime basis and led South Carolina to a 54-3 pile-on over the Wildcats a week after the Gamecocks fell to Auburn.
The Gamecocks used a second-rally to rush past Kentucky 38-17 and continue its second consecutive 11-win season.
And it sounds like first-year Kentucky coach Mark Stoops isn’t too confident about his team’s chances this season. He was angered about his players’ showing after Wednesday’s practice, criticizing their effort, attitude and approach toward their third straight ranked opponent.
“If’s effort, it’s mental, it’s preparation, it’s everything,” Stoops said.
“This is about as frustrated as I’ve been probably, because we’re in a tough stretch getting ready to play a tough game on the road in a hostile environment and with that attitude, we’re going to get rolled,” the coach continued. “That happened the last time we were down there, right?”