HOOVER, Ala. — South Carolina safety D.J. Swearinger initially tried to credit normal film study and game preparation for last year’s dominating 54-3 over visiting Kentucky.
“We try to dominate every game and we did dominate them defensively,” Swearinger said during the Southeastern Conference Football media days.
However, Swearinger finally admitted that UK’s 31-28 comeback victory over the Gamecocks in Lexington in 2010 that resulted in fans storming the field is something South Carolina has not forgotten.
“We remember that. We always say, ‘We don’t want to have any Kentuckys.’ Just losing a game that we thought we should have definitely won,” Swearinger said. “That is something we always say. We don’t want any more Kentucky games that we feel we should definitely win but end up losing them.”
He said that game “was not on our mind” last year. Then he contradicted himself.
“It wasn’t on our mind at all, but we were saying once we got up that we had to keep pushing because last year they came back on us and we didn’t want that to happen again,” Swearinger said. “It gives us a certain amount of respect when we see teams react like they won a championship because they won one game against us. That gives us a whole lot of respect running out on the field just because you beat South Carolina. That is showing us a whole lot of respect. That is about it.”
What about when the Gamecocks come to Lexington Sept. 29?
“Whenever that comes, we will remember that. We will remember the last time we played in Lexington that we lost something that really hurt us. We will have that in the back of our heads when we play Kentucky,” he said.
Missouri atmosphere: Kentucky will have to play at SEC newcomer Missouri in October and Missouri coach Gary Pinkel hopes Memorial Stadium will be a shocking experience for teams that have not played there.
“We call our place 'The Zoo.' It's a great place to play college football,” Pinkel said. “Our fans, to say that they are excited about us being in the SEC would be a complete understatement. They've become fanatical about it. It's exciting to see. I think that says so much for the great respect nationally that the SEC has.
“But our fans are excited about it. We're going to play some great teams that come in there. In this league you have to play well every week, you got to finish games, you have to win games in the fourth quarter. We understand that. We're excited about playing on the road. I've always enjoyed that part of college football. We're excited about teams coming in and having them play us in ‘The Zoo.’”
Good rivalry: Vanderbilt running back Zac Stacy says the rivalry with UK is a “good rivalry” and that last year’s 38-8 win by the Commodores was the exception to most games.
“It is a good rivalry. I was not aware until I got here just how good,” Stacy said. “Most times it goes down to the wire. I feel like it is great rivalry with two SEC opponents with more great athletes on both teams that a lot of people realize. When you play a SEC game, it is always going to be chippy like that and it is usually chippy with Kentucky.
“Last year offensively we got on a roll. We knew what we needed to get done against them and then did it. It was just one of those games that shows what can happen when we execute. We made plays. We gave guys the ball and put them in the best spot to make plays, and they made plays.”
Stacy says Vandy’s approach does not change against Kentucky even though the two schools have annually been at the bottom of the SEC Eastern Division. He also says the lack of respect both programs seem to receive is not a problem
“That is one of those things you can’t control. The only thing you can control is to get better for your team. Just win all we can. Kentucky probably feels the same way,” Stacy said.