Scouting report: South Carolina


South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp walks the sideline during the Wildcat’s game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Commonwealth Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Lexington, Kentucky.

Brianna Dooley

The 29th meeting between UK and South Carolina will take place this weekend on Sept. 16. With the Cats winning the last three games, the Gamecocks will definitely be seeking revenge. 

The Cats are looking to go 3-0 for the first time since the 2010 season. To do that, they’ll have to slow down the many playmakers that wear Gamecock jerseys.

South Carolina’s junior wide receiver Deebo Samuel is one to look out for. Samuel proved himself to be a dominant force last season, despite playing only 10 games.

Samuel finished last season with 59 receptions and 783 receiving yards. He was ranked third in the SEC in receptions per game (5.9), fourth in receiving yards per game (78.3), third in kickoff return average (26.9) and second in all-purpose yardage per game (132.0).

Samuel is started right where he left off in the first play of the season against NC State, returning the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. Samuel would also catch five passes for 83 yards, scored two touchdowns and collected 185 all-purpose yards.

In South Carolina’s second game against Missouri, Samuel shined again, scoring on yet another 97-yard kickoff return. He also had a 25-yard rushing touchdown and caught five passes for 45 yards, ending the game with 167 all-purpose yards.

Samuel is one of only four players in the country to have two kickoff returns for touchdowns this season. With the Cats’ special teams looking a little out of sync against Eastern Kentucky, Samuel could spell trouble for the Cats if he finds himself in open space. 

Samuel also leads the SEC in scoring with 30 points this season alone. He is tied for ninth in the nation in all-purpose yards with an average of 176.0 per game.

All of Samuel’s accomplishments have caught they eyes of national media, as ESPN host Matt Schick released his top five Heisman Trophy contenders on Twitter on Monday, and Samuel was No. 5 on that list.

Freshman defensive back Jamyest Williams is one of two true freshmen to start for the Gamecocks this season, and he took advantage of his opportunities against Missouri. 

Smith tallied six tackles, one pass breakup and an interception that had fans buzzing. This true freshman is expected to make impactful noise on the defensive end against the Wildcats.

6-3, 220-pound sophomore quarterback Jake Bentley will also be a key player in Saturday’s matchup. In the season opener against NC State, Bentley hit on 17 of 29 passes for 215 yards with three touchdowns. Against Missouri, Bentley completed 18 of 28 passes for 187 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.

With Bentley completing 64.8 percent of his career passes, the connection between he and Samuel will be one to look out for during Saturday’s matchup. Bentley is essentially the key to South Carolina’s success.

Kickoff at Williams-Brice Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcasted on the SEC Network.