Stoops’ comments will prove true Saturday night in Columbia

AlexForknerBy Alex Forkner | Football columnist

aforkner@kykernel.com

Quarterback play

With UK starting a giant question mark at quarterback on Saturday, it can’t help the Cats that University of South Carolina senior starting quarterback Connor Shaw won’t miss the game after all. After Shaw suffered a shoulder injury against University of Central Florida last week, head coach Steve Spurrier said the quarterback would miss two to three weeks. Days later, Shaw was tossing 55-yard passes on the practice field. (So much for that diagnosis, Head Ball Coach.)

In his last two games against UK, Shaw has amassed 459 passing yards and six touchdowns through the air, and 118 yards on the ground.

Thus far this season, Shaw is 49-of-76 passing for 665 yards and six touchdowns, and has rushed for 232 yards. Shaw brings stability to the Gamecocks’ offense that UK can only dream of right now.

Edge: South Carolina

Adjusting for atmosphere

The trip to Columbia will be the Cats’ first true road game this season. The game against Western Kentucky University in Nashville was technically a home contest for the Hilltoppers, but UK fans outnumbered those in red.

Now, after a three game home stand, this young team will feel the intensity of a sellout SEC crowd rooting against them. And after a subpar week of practice that had UK head coach Mark Stoops on the verge of spontaneous combustion, confidence in a potential upset is so low it’s subterranean.

“This is the most frustrated I’ve been, probably, because we’re right in the middle of a tough stretch and we’re getting ready to play a tough game on the road in a hostile environment and with that (losing) attitude, we’re going to get rolled,” Stoops said after Wednesday’s practice. “And I believe that happened the last time we went down there, right?”

That’s correct Coach. The Cats’ last trip to Williams-Brice Stadium was a 54-3 fiasco. UK hasn’t won there since 1999. That trend, more than likely, continues on Saturday.

Edge: South Carolina

Overall Edge: South Carolina Young teams rarely win on the road in the SEC, especially a young team as in flux as UK is right now. The offense will again struggle to put up points, and if you think Spurrier isn’t rubbing his hands together at the thought of putting up a pile of points after eeking out a victory against Central Florida, think again.

Final Score: South Carolina 41, UK 17