No. 10/12 USC (4-1, 2-1 SEC) were back at the Bluff Road “Proving Grounds” Thursday afternoon as they continued preparations for Saturday contest at Kentucky (3-3, 0-3, SEC).
Coach Ellis Johnson was asked if his team prepares any differently knowing that Wildcat running back Derrick Locke may not play on Saturday. “No, because you don’t know if he’s going to play or not,” said the Gamecocks’ Assistant Head Coach-Defense. “You’ve got to be prepared. They may run the “Wildcat” package a little bit more, but that’s something we were going to focus on already.”
Coach Johnson noted that defensive lineman Melvin Ingram has been taking reps at defensive end. “He really gave us a good pass rush at defensive end, so he’s really helped out at two different positions.”
Coach Johnson knows the Gamecocks will have their hands full trying to slow down the Kentucky offense. “They’ve got a good receiver corps. They’ve made some big-time plays. I think they are one of the best offenses in the conference in putting up 36 points a game. It’s not anything but just excellent football players making excellent plays. Kentucky has a really good offense.”
Coach Johnson was pleased with the way the team has responded following the big win over Alabama. “We’ve had a great week of practice and good focus, but you still have to go play the game.”
Coach Johnson has been impressed by the play of Kentucky quarterback Mike Hartline. “I think he’s a great player. I think the reason I guess people underrate him is they haven’t really been in the thick of the race, so sometimes some of those other guys on other teams get more attention. He’s right up there with (Ryan) Mallett. He’s a tall guy that can see and can make any throw on the field. When they give him time he’s really good.”
The Gamecocks will practice on this afternoon before leaving for Lexington mid-afternoon. Saturday’s game will kick at 6:02 p.m. on ESPN2 with Mark Jones and Bob Davie handling the announcing chores.