By LARRY VAUGHT
South Carolina coach Will Muschamp is counting on having a “great crowd” when his Gamecocks host Kentucky Saturday night hoping to end a three-year losing skid against the Wildcats.
“They’re a good football team. Mark Stoops is a good friend of mine and does an outstanding job. He’s done a fantastic job at Kentucky. Eddie Gran, their offensive coordinator, is another guy I’ve worked with before and have a lot of respect for,” Muschamp said.
“They really committed to the run last year, really against us probably. Benny Snell is an outstanding back – tough, hard-nosed, runs north and south, gets positive yards, rarely takes negative plays. Sihiem King is a guy who’s a change-of-pace guy, somewhat like they had last year with some other guys. He’s done a really nice job.
“They’re big and athletic up front. C.J. Conrad is an outstanding tight end that you’ve got to account for in the run and pass games. Stephen Johnson is a guy that I think has really been a calming factor for their team. They went with him last year. He creates some things with his legs and throws the ball well. He commands their offense extremely well. Garrett Johnson is one of the leading receivers in Kentucky history, and they have a really talented corps at the receiver position.
“They’re more of an odd structure defensively. The two guys who jump out at me are Courtney Love and Jordan Jones, both linebackers who are very active and make a bunch of plays. They’re very instinctive. They’re long and athletic in the secondary and on special teams, Dean Hood, their coordinator does a really good job there.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us, but I’m really excited for our players and our fans to get home to Williams-Brice. I am excited about that.”
Muschamp told his players after their win over MIssouri Saturday that it was time to end the UK win streak. His seniors did the same thing.
“That’s not something we need to allow to happen. We understand what’s at stake. It’s the SEC East. It’s the home opener. There are a lot of things. Last year this was a football team that we could not stop in the run game last year. They let us out in the fourth quarter, and we didn’t run the ball at all. That will be a challenge for our guys this week,” Muschamp said.