Team Goes Out On High Note
Throughout the 2020 season the Kentucky football program has gone through a great deal. From Chris Oats’ medical issue to the death of offensive line coach John Schlarman there have been several lows. However there have been some highs as well including the blowout win over Tennessee. Another huge positive happened Saturday night on Senior Day at Kroger Field. Playing against an undermanned team Kentucky Rolls Past South Carolina 41-18.
Big Night For The Seniors
Ever since coming back from his torn patellar tendon Terry Wilson has been inconsistent at quarterback, which is totally understandable. However in his final game in Lexington he turned in a great performance. Wilson completed 17 of 26 passes for 201 yards with no interceptions. In addition he ran for another 46 yards and a touchdown. In the process he made Kentucky football history.
Terry Wilson is the first player in Kentucky history to have at least 3,000 career passing yards and 1,000 career rushing yards
— Corey Price (@coreyp08) December 6, 2020
Another player having a big night was running back A.J. Rose. In his final home game Rose cracked the century mark with 101 yards rushing and a touchdown. He also etched his name in the history books.
He also surpassed 2k career all-purpose yards. pic.twitter.com/tmKow7l4DJ
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) December 6, 2020
Another senior, tight end Justin Rigg , set a career high in receiving yards with 72. For all this group of seniors has accomplished it’s truly a shame there wasn’t 60,000 fans at Kroger Field giving these players the proper send off they deserved. Unfortunately in a COVID world that’s not possible.
Looking Toward The Future
While many of the seniors starred against South Carolina the Big Blue Nation got a good look at the future. Returning after missing the previous two games Christopher Rodriguez led the UK attack with 139 yards rushing on only 14 carries. If you’re scoring at home that’s a whopping 10 yards per carry. In addition he had three touchdowns.
After a Wilson score put the Cats up 34-3 it looked like a runaway. However give South Carolina credit, they could have packed it in but they didn’t. Following two straight touchdowns they cut the lead to 34-18. However Rodriguez answered with a 79 yard score that put the exclamation point on the win.
If you read our game preview we said Kentucky needed to get the offense going after struggling most of 2020. As it turned out the Gamecock defense was just the ticket as the Cats came eight yards short of 500 going for 492 including 201 through the air. For the Cats it was the most yards passing since the season opening loss at Auburn where they had 239. Put it all together and you see how Kentucky rolls past South Carolina 41-18. Not only was it a big night for some of the UK seniors but also for the head coach.
Moving Up The Record Books
Saturday’s win was Mark Stoops‘ 48th at Kentucky passing Fran Curci for second on the Kentucky all-time wins list. His current record in Lexington is 48-50. Remember two games into his fourth season Stoops was 12-26. He needs 12 wins to tie Bear Bryant’s total of 60. Stoops already broke one of the Bear’s records with the most home victories by a Kentucky coach. Stoops now has 35 following the victory over South Carolina.
With the win Kentucky moves to 4-6 on the season, of course all in SEC play. The victory is the sixth in the last seven games against the Gamecocks. UK now waits to see about a possible bowl bid. Of course in 2020 every league but the Pac-12 has waived minimum victory requirements so a four win Kentucky squad is eligible. As it stands currently our Last Word bowl projections have the Cats playing in the Music City Bowl against Iowa. That certainly makes for an interesting matchup as that is Stoops’ alma mater.
Stoops wasted little time making the long rumored coaching changes. Less than 24 hours after the win offensive coordinator Eddie Gran and quarterbacks coach Darrin Hinshaw were let go Sunday. In 2020 Kentucky ranked 117th in the nation in total offense and 121st in passing. Much of the focus on the lack of offense was directed at Gran. No word yet on candidates but the idea is someone who will open up the offense.
As for South Carolina they fall to 2-8 and end on a six game losing streak. While we didn’t have the Gamecocks in a bowl this week, s it’s not out of the realm of possibility USC ends up in a post season game. With as many as 13 slots available for SEC teams their most likely destination is the Gasparilla Bowl. Going forward they head into 2020 with a number of questions, however the biggest has already been answered. Late Saturday night work broke that Oklahoma assistant Shane Beamer will be the new head coach. The son of former Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer served on the Carolina staff from 2007-2010.
So Kentucky rolled past South Carolina 41-18 in the final home game at Kroger Field for an incredible group of seniors. They got to four straight bowls, beating Florida and Tennessee on the road and the first 10 win season in 41 years. Hopefully they have one more day in the sun before their college careers are over.