Cats will try to contain South Carolina run

October 08, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - Kentucky's defense will be looking for a way to stop the run when it plays at South Carolina on Thursday night.

South Carolina's defense has its own worries. That's why coach Lou Holtz is shifting personnel this week in hopes of helping an anemic pass rush against Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen.

"We've played a couple of teams that could run the ball fairly well, and we haven't done as well as I would like to do," Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said. "They have a very good running game. They are a very physical offensive team. They like to run the football and they run it very well. We've got to be able to stop that.

"They will throw the ball, and they throw it well, but they have a bigger emphasis on the running game (out of the shotgun). We did some good things in the running game against Florida, but the one play we'll see quite a big is the tackle-trap out of the shotgun. If we don't play that better, they'll run us right out of the stadium."


South Carolina freshman Demetris Summers is sixth in the Southeastern Conference in rushing with 387 yards on 64 carries. He's fifth among all freshmen in Division I-A in rushing yards per game at 77.4.

He had 158 yards in a 23-20 overtime loss to Tennessee on Sept. 27 and 161 yards against UAB. Summers helped the Gamecocks rush for 217 yards, 100 more than Tennessee, in his team's last game.

"He's a young guy that can break tackles and he has some speed," Brooks said. "He seems to get quite a few yards after the first hit."

Holtz just hopes his defensive front can put pressure on Lorenzen. South Carolina switched from a three-man defensive front to a four-man line this season to generate a better pass rush. However, South Carolina has just seven sacks this season, the worst mark in the SEC, and has forced just 10 turnovers.

Lorenzen is fourth in the SEC in passing efficiency. He has completed 76 of 123 passes for 928 yards with nine touchdowns and four interceptions. Since throwing 21 interceptions in his freshman season, Lorenzen has thrown only 16 from 2001-2003.

End Willie Gause, South Carolina's top returning defensive lineman, won't play against Kentucky because of a knee injury. That has prompted Holtz to shift linebackers Ricardo Hurley and Darel Slay to ends and move ends Moe Thompson and Jason Capers to tackles in pass-rushing situations this week.

"We have to get pressure on Lorenzen or he'll just pick us apart," Holtz said. "He's a big, mobile quarterback and he has a lot of good receivers.

"We've had a lot of injuries on defense this year and we are going downhill faster than a free fall on defense right now."

Brooks doubts that. He knows Holtz, who has won three straight games over UK since losing his first meeting with the Wildcats in 1999, is infamous for downplaying his team's talent.

"They have a physical defensive front and some real speed and talent at linebacker and in the secondary," Brooks said. "This is not a week you would expect to see great improvement in our ability to move the football, especially in trying to establish a running game, because I think South Carolina is one of the best defensive teams we've seen."

Despite their lack of a consistent pass rush, the Gamecocks are sixth in the country against the pass, allowing 144.2 yards a game. The Gamecocks are also holding opponents to three-plays-and-out on 40.6 percent of their possessions (26-of-64).

The Cats know the importance of Thursday's game. They are 2-3 after letting a 21-3 lead slip away in a 24-21 loss to Florida Sept. 27.

"This is the most physical team we have played. We have to correct the mistakes we made against Florida and finish a game," UK defensive end Vincent Burns said. "There's nothing we can do about Florida now except go out and get a win against South Carolina."


* Mike Tirico will handle the play-by-play for ESPN during Thursday's game with Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit providing the analysis. Dr. Jerry Punch will be the sideline reporter.

* Kentucky defensive end Vincent Burns leads the SEC in total tackles for loss (10.5) and has 32 tackles in five games. He's had at least one tackle for loss in 11 straight games.

* Kentucky receiver-kick returner Derek Abney leads the SEC in all-purpose yard-age this season with an average of 163.2 yards per game. He's third in the SEC in kickoff returns (26.4 yards per return).

* In 2001-02, Kentucky allowed 32 plays of 40 or more yards. Through five games this season, UK has allowed just three plays of 40 or more yards.

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