Kentucky Defense Preparing for Rattler, South Carolina
The formula for beating South Carolina, Kentucky’s opponent this Saturday in the Southeastern Conference finale, this season has been to hold the Gamecocks to 20 points or fewer. In five of South Carolina’s six losses, the Gamecocks have scored 20 or less. The lone exception is a 41-39 loss to Florida.
On the other hand, in their four wins, the Gamecocks have scored at least 37 points and they have averaged 42.3 points per game.
The South Carolina offense is directed by quarterback Spencer Rattler, who is having a big season for the Gamecocks. Rattler has passed for 2,867 yards and 17 touchdowns this season and is completing 70.6 percent of his passes. Kentucky defensive coordinator Brad White has been impressed with Rattler on film.
“Playing really, really well right now,” White said of Rattler. “High completion percentage, over 70 percent and throwing to some really big, physical receivers that are playing well. He’s playing at an extremely high level, probably the best that I’ve seen him play in these two years. Big challenge.”
White has seen Rattler improve this season in a number of specific areas.
“I think his accuracy, his decision making has really improved this year,” White said. “He’s making smart plays with the football. I think there’s a level of confidence. His mobility within the pocket. His pocket presence has improved. He’s done a nice job of extending plays and when it all breaks down, he’s done a nice job this year of making plays with his legs. Any time you’re over 70 percent completion rate, you’re doing something really, really well.”
In order to stop Rattler and South Carolina, it will take a team effort. White hopes that his entire defense can play well and can help each other.
“It all ties together. If you can get pressure on the quarterback, it helps the back end. If you can play tight coverage it will help the rush. It all works together,” White said. “We need one of those games, we need to play complimentary football from a coverage and a pass rush. They need to play together and they need to play equally well to help the other. When one of those areas is playing at an elite level, it helps the other one. We need that from a defensive standpoint to play complimentary football.”
One area in particular could prove to be very important for the UK defense on Saturday.
“We’ve got to be able to win our one on ones up front. And that’s what we need to do this week,” White said. “We haven’t done it at a high enough rate, both coverages and pass rush, win one on ones. We need that this week.”
Playing complimentary football and winning one on one matchups will be crucial for the Cats as they face Rattler and South Carolina on Saturday.