No. 6 Gamecocks looking to pound ground at Kentucky

The health of the starting quarterbacks on both teams will be a focal point when Kentucky hosts No. 6 South Carolina in an SEC game Saturday night.

Kentucky sophomore Maxwell Smith sat out last week’s 38-0 loss against Florida with a bruised joint in his throwing shoulder and his availability won’t be known until later this week.

Connor Shaw, a junior quarterback for the Gamecocks (4-0 overall, 2-0 SEC), played through a hairline fracture in his throwing shoulder last week against Missouri, an injury that caused him to miss one game this season and parts of two others.

Shaw completed his last 20 passes in the 31-10 victory against the Tigers. If he completes his first four against Kentucky, he’ll tie the SEC record for consecutive completions. That mark was set by Tee Martin of Tennessee in 1998.

Marcus Lattimore continues to work his way back to the form he displayed during his first 19 games in a South Carolina uniform. In the victory against Missouri, Lattimore received his most playing time since tearing his ACL last Oct. 15.

Lattimore rushed for 81 yards in 21 carries in the win, scoring two touchdowns to break the school career touchdown record (33). He also caught a career-high seven passes for 60 yards while playing without a brace for the first time this season. Lattimore ruished for 1,976 yards and scored 29 touchdowns during his first 1 1/2 seasons with the Gamecocks.

The Wildcats (1-3, 0-1) rank 101st in the nation in rush defense, allowing an average of 192 yards a game. They’ll need a big effort from sophomore outside linebacker Alvin “Bud” Dupree, who leads the team with five tackles for losses this season. Dupree switched from strongside to weakside linebacker after the first game this season and seems to be adapting well. He had six tackles, including a sack, in a win against Kent State, and eight tackles with a sack last week against Florida.

South Carolina will be trying to win its ninth straight game, which would tie a school record for the longest winning streak. The Gamecocks are also looking to start 5-0 for the first time since 2001.

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