By LARRY VAUGHT
Maybe Kentucky should give the game ball from Saturday’s 17-10 Southeastern Conference victory over South Carolina to ESPN analyst Lee Corso.
During ESPN College GameDay before the Tennessee-Florida game, Corso proclaimed that “Kentucky might have the worst defense in the history of college football.”
Of course, Kentucky did rank near the bottom of 10 national defensive categories doing into the game with South Carolina and had blown a 25-point lead to Southern Mississippi and allowed New Mexico State to score 42 points and gain 500 yards.
The Wildcats responded by limiting a mediocre South Carolina offense to 268 total yards and 3-for-13 on third-down conversions.
“Defense came down to 3rd downs again. That’s where game has been for us,” said Kentucky coach Mark Stoops.
Defensive lineman Matt Elam, who has been criticized by UK fans, immediately went to Twitter after the win and posted a playful, “Kentucky May Have The Worst Defense In The History Of Football.”
Another lineman, Denzil Ware, had called teammates earlier in the day to make sure they knew what Corso had said and that they better bring an all-out effort in a game UK had to win to have any realistic hope of maybe winning six games and going to a bowl.
Earlier Austin’s Rose, a duo of UK fans, indicated it still believed in Stoops by releasing a song, “I Still Believe in Stoops,” that included this lyric, “But I’m not giving up on Stoops, he can still win six games.”
Kentucky got 123 yards rushing and one touchdown from Boom Williams before freshman Benny Snell punished the Gamecocks in the fourth quarter and finished with 73 yards and the winning touchdown. Kentucky ended having the ball almost 33 minutes and amassed 351 yards.
Quarterback Stephen Johnson was 11 of 19 passing for 135 yards. “We have tremendous playmakers … I just have to put the ball in their hands and not try to be Superman,” Johnson said.
Stoops admitted it was probably his biggest win in four years at Kentucky — and was the first time in 24 games at UK when his team trailed at halftime that it had won. That’s a huge step forward for a team that had never seemed to make significant halftime adjustments.
“Really good team victory. Proud of those guys,” Stoops said.
He should have been. Many UK fans had lost hope in the team. This revives that faith. Forget what happens at No. 1 Alabama the next game. After that, UK gets home games with Vanderbilt and Mississippi State. Win them and UK suddenly goes from 0-2 to 4-3 and November games will matter a lot.