As Shane Beamer took over the football operation at South Carolina, the Gamecocks had major offensive questions to answer. Carolina’s passing offense had finished 12th in SEC yards per attempt in each of the last two seasons, and no returning receiver had more than 11 grabs last season.
Senior wideout Josh Vann has entered the chat.
The former four-star recruit in the class of 2018 out of Metro Atlanta was a major recruiting win for the Gamecocks who headed to Columbia with sky-high expectations. However, his career got off to a slow start.
Through his first three seasons on campus, the 5-foot-11 receiver started eight games and recorded 47 receptions but only averaged 8.02 yards per catch. However, the new scheme has appeared to unlock Vann’s big-play potential.
Through three games, Josh Vann has received 16 targets with a very efficient 62.5 percent catch rate and success rate, but it’s the explosive plays that are catching everyone’s attention.
Through 12 quarters of football, six of Vann’s 10 receptions have gone for 25-plus yards. In the game against Georgia, the receiver constantly beat press-man coverage by the Bulldogs getting a clean release off the line of scrimmage and pulling in receptions when vertical shots were taken. The senior receiver accounted for 41.29 percent of South Carolina’s offense on just three touches. He is the man Kentucky has to stop on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Brad White’s Kentucky defense hangs their hat on big-play prevention. The Wildcats have given up just one pass play of 25-yards in 114 passing snaps (107 throws, 7 sacks). Meanwhile, South Carolina has produced eight completions of 25-plus yards in 87 passing snaps (80 throws, 7 sacks).
Similar to Kentucky, South Carolina and offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield want efficiency from the rushing attack and explosive plays from the passing game. When South Carolina goes to the air, the Gamecocks will have shot plays looking for big gains. Josh Vann will be their target.
No. 6 is someone Kentucky will have to slow down on Saturday night. Recent history tells us that the Wildcats will do whatever it takes to eliminate big pass plays.