5 Kentucky players South Carolina fans need to know
Here are five Wildcats that South Carolina fans should get to know before kickoff at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday:
- Patrick Towles: Kentucky’s sophomore quarterback led his team on a 13-play, 99-yard march last weekend against Vanderbilt, helping the Wildcats snap an 18-game SEC losing skid. He threw a touchdown pass and rushed for a score in the first half, but did throw a pick-six to Darrius Sims. Towles is matched up against the league’s 12th-rated pass defense Saturday night.
- A.J. Stamps: This JUCO transfer’s been an instant impact playmaker in Kentucky’s secondary from his post at free safety, picking up two interceptions thus far. Stamps is the lead ballhawk on a unit ranked third in the SEC against the pass at 186.0 yards per game.
- Braylon Heard: The Wildcats No. 1 rushing option is averaging a team-best 7.5 yards per carry this fall and has shown an expansive knowledge of where he fits in Neal Brown’s offense. Heard’s explosive with the ball in his hands, much like fellow running back Jojo Kemp. Heard and Kemp will handle Saturday’s rushing load after the suspension of Stanley ‘Boom’ Williams.
- Za’Darius Smith: The first of two elite-level pass rushers, Smith’s matched up against an underwhelming offensive which struggled last week against Mizzou’s tandem of Shane Ray and Markus Golden. Smith’s game is a bit different, a heavy emphasis on power and strength over speed off the edge. At 6-foot-6, 265 pounds, Smith projects as a defensive end at the next level.
- Bud Dupree: Kentucky’s veteran beast up front has started the last 30 games in various spots in the front seven, but makes a living chasing after opposing quarterbacks at defensive end. Expected to shine at next year’s NFL Combine, he’s the best player on the field when he wants to be. He’s off to a slow start this season with 1.5 sacks after finishing in the SEC’s top 10 in the category the last two years, but will have plenty of opportunities this weekend.