Kentucky coach Mark Stoops has made it a habit to not use the issues facing the Wildcats this season as excuses. But against South Carolina on Saturday night, UK will have a remarkably thin roster.

UK reported 17 players are out today for Kentucky between injury, COVID-19 protocols and opt-out, Josh Moore of the Herald-Leader reported. That included 5 starters: Quinton Bohanna, Kenneth Horsey, J.J. Weaver, Zach Johnson and Kelvin Joseph. The good news is RB Chris Rodriguez is available today.

Joseph was Kentucky’s first player to opt out when he did it this week. He had 4 interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, which rank fourth nationally. Freshman Carrington Valentine is listed as the backup.

In the regular season finale for both teams, Kentucky is coming off a two-game stretch in which it lost to Alabama and Florida by a 97-13 margin, including last week’s 34-10 rout at Florida. While this week’s numbers are expected to be better than in those games in terms of roster availability, Kentucky played both contests short-handed with players and staff sidelined by coronavirus issues.

Along with Rodriguez, the Wildcats will look to get offense tonight out of QB Terry Wilson, who is among 18 Kentucky seniors who will be honored in their presumed home finales. He led the Wildcats to 10 wins including the Citrus Bowl in 2018 before he missed most of the 2019 season with a knee injury.