Steve Spurrier loves playing Kentucky. And why shouldn't he? His teams have never lost to the Wildcats. With South Carolina's win over the Cats on Saturday, Spurrier picked up career win No. 16 against UK.
It was a painful day for the UK offense. The Cats were anemic at times, converting only one of 16 third down attempts. That won't win many football games.
Spurrier noted such in his postgame comments. Surveying the final stat sheet, the ol' ball coach remarked how his team finished 8 of 17 on third down conversions, while the Wildcats missed on 15 attempts. "There's where the ballgame was, right there," Spurrier said.
UK's offense again was plagued by inconsistent play in the passing game. More drops by the receivers and errant throws by Mike Hartline created even more opportunities for South Carolina's athletic defense to shut down UK's running game. Derrick Locke had 15 carries, but his longest rush was 9 yards.
The Cats finished with just 62 yards rushing on 22 carries.
With such a young receiving corps, I'm certain some fans have wondered where would the Wildcats turn if senior receiver Dicky Lyons, Jr. ever was injured. Now, unfortunately, we'll find out.
In the second quarter, Lyons took a short pass and tried to turn the corner, but was dragged down from behind. Lyons fell out of bounds, but not before his knee buckled awkwardly. Lyons screamed in pain and lay on the turf for several minutes. Rich Brooks said Lyons tore his MCL and will undergo an MRI on Monday, which might reveal even more damage.
Now, Brooks must decide if freshman Randall Cobb should get more reps at quarterback or receiver. Fans are clamoring for Cobb to line up under center, but that still leaves question marks for UK's young, inexperienced receivers.
UK's defense gave up two scores, but I thought they played well, especially against the run. The Cats held Carolina to 74 yards rushing, but second-string quarterback Stephen Garcia hit on a couple of big plays that finally doomed the Cats in the second half.
In the fourth quarter, with Carolina facing third and 14, Garcia found Jason Barnes for 27 yards.
On third and 12, the two hooked up again, this time for 17 yards. On the same drive, facing second and 12, Garcia found Barnes again, this time for 38 yards. The Gamecocks scored when Garcia hit Weslye Saunders with a seven-yard TD pass.
Incidentally, Hartline missed on eight of his last nine passes to end the game.
Lyons goes down with knee injury
Dicky Lyons, Jr. has been a fan favorite since he walked onto campus. Older Wildcat fans remember his father, who played in the late '60s. Dicky Lyons, Sr. was one of UK's most daring-do, the first player in league history to rush for 1,000 yards and also have 1,000 yards in kickoff and punt returns. As for lil' Dicky, the helmet didn't fall far from the tree.
The senior from Louisiana will be out indefinitely, if not for the season. From my vantage point, in the back of the end zone, it was a wicked-looking injury. Brooks is hopeful his receiver will be back, but it didn't appear promising.
Lyons, who to his credit, was the first player to appear in the media room after the game, had his knee wrapped and in a brace. As he spoke of the injury, Lyons talked not about himself, but about his family, especially his dad. There were no "woe is me" comments from Lyons.
"It's really hard, because my dad got over there, to the sideline, before I did. He was all the way over on the other side, the family side, of the stadium," Dicky Lyons, Jr. said after the game. "My family just feels so bad for me and I keep telling them 'Just keep your head up. It's not the end of the world.' "
"Hopefully I can get back as soon as possible and we can keep winning games."
Lyons has become known for his flair for the dramatic. Whether it's his boastful prediction that the Cats would win at Mississippi State in 2006 (Rich Brooks disciplined Lyons for the comments) or his tremendous one-handed touchdown catch in the same game, UK fans love his grit and straight-from-the heart style.
Those are the highlights... Stay tuned.