LEXINGTON, Ky. - South Carolina rallied from a halftime deficit to post a 38-17 victory and keep the record perfect on the season. Here’s what both teams had to say following the game at Commonwealth Stadium.
The Gamecocks have an 11-game winning streak against opponents from the SEC East. The last loss was to Kentucky at Commonwealth Stadium in 2010. This is also the sixth time in school history that South Carolina has started 5-0 and the first time since the 2001 season.
South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier
“We played a little bit better in the second half than we did in the first half, sort of a turnaround from two years ago when we were up 18 and got beat here. Coming in at halftime I told somebody, we don’t have to worry about being overconfident going into the second half or getting full of ourselves like maybe two years ago. Really proud of our guys, 17-7 was not a huge lead for them. I’m sort of glad they didn’t get that one right at the end of the first half, 24-7 would make you think you’d have to throw the whole time. 17-7, we had a better plan, get in the I-Formation, give it to (Marcus) Lattimore and let him run.
Maybe we learned something today, the old I-Formation, the old power play, this that and the other sweeps are not bad. We don’t have to run zone reads and all that shotgun stuff all the time and that was very helpful for us. The line blocked pretty well in the second half and of course Marcus made a bunch of runs. Good throw to Damiere Byrd, get the quick touchdown to start the half and make it 17-14 so we were right there. Again, two different halves, our guys really played the second half. We couldn’t even cover kicks or punts in the first half, they almost ran off and left us in the first half. Two weeks in a row we can’t score on the one yard line, fortunately it didn’t cost, we got a victory and we move on to the next game.”
On going to Marcus Lattimore in the second half … “Nothing else was working very well and we were getting sacked all over the place so it was time to try to give it to him and give it to him. We still hit a few balls here and there, we still threw a few. I don’t know what we’ll do next week but we’ll probably do a little bit of both. Shotgun, I-Formation, whatever is working.”
On Connor Shaw … “Connor is a good tough kid, he got hit a couple times in the pocket there, especially that last one. He sort of had a corner route called and the DB overplayed it and I wish he would have just thrown it away, he took a hard hit on that one. Other than that he played well, he had some nice runs up in there. He’s really a good passer, I wish D.L. (Moore) could have held on to that first one, about the same play that Damiere caught there. Anyway, it was a good win for us, our defense was very good the second half, not very good the first half. Special teams, very good the second half, not very good the first half. Anyway, we are fortunate to get a come-from-behind win and move on to the rest of the season.”
On coming out in the second half… “I think I’ve talked about that, our guys really had a good look in their eyes that they wanted to play the second half. There wasn’t any mopping, nobody was pouting, nobody was pointing fingers. We were all bad so there weren’t any fingers to point except all at ourselves. We had a better plan the second half, it worked out.”
South Carolina Players
Defensive end Devin Taylor
Defensive linemen Devin Taylor and Byron Jerideau
On adjustments and halftime … “I think the first half we just came out sluggish. They didn’t do anything that we haven’t practiced.”
On adjustments and halftime … “Our leaders stated that we control our destiny for the second half, and we just need to go and play our game everything else will come.”
On being discouraged in 2nd half … “Coming out in the second half we knew that we didn’t have a good first half, so our whole plan was to come with the intensity that we didn’t show.”
On overlooking Kentucky … [/i] “I don’t think that anyone really overlooked them. We play every game one game at a time. We don’t look forward ahead to next week’s game. We didn’t come out fully prepared for Kentucky and they shocked us. We were able to bounce back from that.”
On expecting them to run the way they did … “All week our coaches have been emphasizing, even though they lost to Florida, they run the ball very well and the main thing that we have to do is stop the run.”
Wide receiver Damiere Byrd
On looking over and seeing Marcus Lattimore running … Yes it was good to see that, Marcus is one of our leaders, and obviously he can run the ball. Once we get him running the ball that opens up our offense a lot.”
On why they struggled in the opening half and what Kentucky did … “They were just out there playing the hard. They played a great first half. I definitely give them that. We missed opportunities and we were able to capitalize and come back on the second half.”
Quarterback Connor Shaw
On leadership from Connor (Shaw) coming back from first half … “Connor was very steady the entire game, even in the first half, he was okay. Connor definitely stepped up and Marcus stepped up and everybody else did also.”
Quarterback Connor Shaw
On the South Carolina receivers’ ability to perform in the first half… I think maybe it was a combination. I sat back too long and maybe receivers not getting open. I think we did a great job of coming in and making halftime adjustments and playing hard.
On second half adjustments… We knew what we had to do to win. We just needed to get back to our bread and butter. We had to get Marcus involved, and that’s what we did in the second half.
On playing Georgia next week… We can’t start off slow like we did today against a team like Georgia.
Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips
Max Smith, get him back, lose him to an ankle. Dakotah Tyler, a knee, we'll be able to is look at it better tomorrow. Zach West shoulder, Ray-Ray (Raymond) Sanders has a knee. Those things we'll take a look at, get X-rays and MRIs tomorrow, then be able to take a closer look at them.
We made plays early in the game. We've been trying to get started a little faster by changing the way we practice a little bit and getting right into some 11 on 11 stuff right away, and it showed a little bit. Now we've got to do a better job of finishing.
We didn't finish the end of the first half very well offensively. Then we didn't finish in the second half. So those guys, I thought the defense played well in the first half, and gave up 20-something yards rushing, which, against that team we just played, as athletic as their quarterback is and as big and physical as their tailback is, a pretty good job.
The second half they were a little more patient South Carolina was. Stuck with the running game a little bit longer, and was able to rush to get 200 yards rushing on us which we couldn't get them stopped and get ourselves off the field defensively.
We just couldn't get anything going on offense in the second half to try to match the scores that they made. I think their first three possessions they scored touchdowns, and we couldn't match it. Questions.
Question regarding South Carolina’s size wearing UK down in the second half? … We were a little bit more patient with the run game. Our defense had to play -- one of the things that we talked about before the game was our goal line, and talk to our all three phases of our guys that are in charge. One of the things -- the time of possession. You're seeing how the time of possession has been -- our opponents have had a huge time of possession.
One of the things that we've talked about defensive is our defense has to get themselves off the field on third down. You've got to play really good in goal line defense. In the first half, what do we do? We have a goal line stop. We played really good on third down to get ourselves off the field. Therefore those guys don't have the ball as much, and we control the time of possession in the first half. Second half we didn't do that. We didn't get stops on third down, and we didn't get stops on the goal line.
When they get that many possessions, it becomes -- we do have to wear down a little bit. We just didn't get ourselves off the field.
Did you feel like at the end of the first half you have the ball, you could punch it in there. It's a 24-7 game going into the half … We did. We missed a huge opportunity. You've got to get some points. You know, we had our field goal team ready to run out on the field. We didn't anticipate fumbling the ball, and now it's just going for the ball, and we pick it up, and now it's only two or three seconds left instead of 10 to 12. So we missed a huge opportunity to get points.
I think that was a momentum swing. It was. It was a huge momentum swing. We got the ball back in the second half. I think it would have definitely helped if we got some points out of that.
Talk about in the first half and how you guys played … Yeah, exactly. We played with great effort. Our guys played with great effort. I tell you, I think they have all year. We've played with enthusiasm. The thing we did was play with total focus. That is the thing that this football team is young. There were a lot of babies out there making plays for us again. But there were a lot of mistakes made out there also when you have a lot of young players out there playing for you.
What do you want them to take from this game? Do you want them to be more upset about losing? … I want them to think that we've got to play 60 minutes. When you're young as a football team as ours and you're playing against the number 6 team in the country, you have to play clean, fast, with great effort, which I thought we did. But you've got to do it for 60 minutes. We did it for 35 minutes then they took over and took the momentum. We never got it back.
Cornerback Martavius Neloms - “We were able to stop them in the first half. We pushed them around, and we just need to carry that to the second half.”
Tailback Raymond Sanders … “We see what kind of team we can be in the first half. We were making plays, and we just need to put a full game together. We are going to come back tomorrow, work to put a full game together, staying focused, and pushing to be the best we can be. We feel like we can be a pretty good team.”
Defensive back Cody Quin
On his feelings in the second half … “It kind of felt like it was shifting away. Defensively, we made a few mistakes. We just have to pick it up and keep fighting. It’s a 60-minute game and we can’t just let up. We’ve been known to do that in previous games.”
On South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore … “He’s a great player. I watched him back in high school. I’ve known him for a while. I feel like we could’ve stopped him. ”
Quarterback Jalen Whitlow
On the second half play … “I was holding on to the ball too much, we got some sacks, and interceptions. We just got to stay focused and keep the intensity high”
On breaking out of his comfort zone …. “It was difficult because, they were coming, the were putting on pressure, I was holding on to the ball too much, just got to stay focused”
Defensive end Taylor Wyndham … On the difference between the first half and second half … “The first half we got after it, and we laid off a little bit in the second half and they changed things up on us. We didn’t adjust as well as we should’ve, and they just ran it down on us.”
Quotes compiled by University of Kentucky