Cats recognize the challenge that Deebo Samuel brings


Derrick Baity #8 of the Kentucky Wildcats celebrates a fumble recovery during the game against EKU on Saturday, September 9, 2017, in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky defeated EKU 27-16. Photo by Carter Gossett | Staff

South Carolina has many players who will likely cause UK football problems when the two teams meet on Sept. 16. However, there is one player in particular who is likely at the top of the Cats’ scouting report. 

Deebo Samuel, wide receiever and kick returner for the Gamecocks, is an electric playmaker that defensive coordinator Matt House knows his team has to stop. 

“He’s really good with the ball in his hands, they get him the ball a lot of different ways, whether it be through jets, tunnel screens, taking shots,” House said “He’s definitely a guy we got to be aware of where he’s at.”

Samuel has scored five touchdowns in just two games, one rushing, two receiving and two returning kicks. Samuel collected two of his five touchdowns last week against Missouri.

Samuel has done most of his damage as a receiver, where he leads the Gamecocks in yards and touchdowns and is tied for first in catches. Samuel is capable of making big plays with the ball in his hands, but that’s not what defensive backs coach Steve Clinkscale has noticed on film.

“He’s a very good receiver, he’s a good blocker, that’s the first thing I look at receivers,” Clinkscale said. “He’s a very great route runner, he’s good off the press, he’s even better when you give him space.” 

Video: Steve Clinkscale talks about preparation for Deebo Samuel and South Carolina

So far the Cats this season have struggled against teams’ with good receivers. UK let two Southern Miss receivers go over 100 yards and let Eastern Kentucky’s Ryan Markush catch 10 passes for 98 yards and a touchdown. 

However, Samuel will be the best receiver the Cats have faced up until this point, but if the Cats take care of the little things on defense, Clinkscale is confident that his defense can conquer the challenge.

“We got to do a good job of just working our fundamentals, going back to camp rules, doing our job, when we’re in position to make a play, make a play,” Clinkscale said.

Heightened sense of urgency in place at practice this week

UK football is 2-0 to start the season, but their toughest opponent up until this point is waiting for them in South Carolina.

With such a big game only three days away, House has noticed a difference in the way the Cats have practiced this week.

“I think there’s a heightened sense of urgency without a doubt,” House said. “First SEC opponent, on the road, a division opponent, it’s a huge game obviously.”

Kentucky and South Carolina will both enter the game with undefeated records. A blackout is also being planned for what is the Gamecocks’ home-opener.

The intensity in Williams-Brice Stadium will likely be high for this anticipated matchup, an Denzil Ware knows what’s at stake and feels prepared for it.

It’s our first SEC game, going to their place, their environment, their first home game,” Ware said. “I know them guys are fired up, we are fired up, we are ready to get this game cracking and rolling.”