Twenty-five thoughts and takeaways from South Carolina's 26-22 loss to Kentucky:
1. South Carolina's crowd was alive and kicking from start to finish. The student section was packed until the final snap and the Gamecock faithful made it difficult for Patrick Towles and the Wildcat offense to communicate at times throughout the night.
2. Connor Mitch continued South Carolina's tradition of having quarterbacks who do not slide, choosing instead to lunge forward and land on their shoulders. The technique prevents big hits to the head, but it doesn't exactly look athletic.
3. Shamier Jeffery and Jerrell Adams were wide open on Mitch's first two downfield pass attempts of the night. A semi-accurate ball on either would have netted the Gamecocks around 30 yards and given the offense a chance at points on the opening drive. His third downfield pass was intercepted and his fourth was underthrown to Pharoh Cooper, who had a step on his man but had to stop and come back to the ball. His first completion past the line of scrimmage didn't come until the 1:48 mark in the first quarter.
4. Skai Moore is living right. He has three interceptions through the first two games of the season and all he's needed is a pulse and fully functional hands. After the pick, Moore gave a Michael Jordan-esque shrug to the cameras.
5. The SEC Network made use of a really cool "If It Ain't Swayin', We Ain't Playin'" graphic heading into the commercial break following Mitch's rushing touchdown.
6. Kentucky engaged in more post-play shoving and jawing than any Wildcat team I can ever remember seeing. The Gamecocks foolishly got involved several times, the biggest case being Alan Knott's personal foul when South Carolina had advanced inside the Wildcat 5-yard line.
7. The Wildcats got away with several potential holding penalties on the perimeter, but the Kentucky wide receivers physically outmanned South Carolina's cornerbacks throughout the game.
8. Isaiah Johnson is the most physical player in South Carolina's secondary. Although he's made mistakes, earning a pair of 15-yard penalties this season, Johnson is constantly around the ball and isn't afraid to stick his nose into piles.
9. South Carolina is a different football team when Perry Orth is at quarterback. Orth has looked more composed during the first two games and it seems that the rest of the team is more confident when he's leading the offense.
10. Brandon Wilds, you may have heard, did not think he got the ball enough in the red zone and he appears to have been correct. South Carolina snapped the ball 18 times inside the Kentucky 20 and Wilds got three touches. Averaged 6.7 yards per carry. Head-scratcher.
11. Apparently, no one has told Landon Ard that kickers are supposed to be the last line of defense on returns. On the opening kick of the second half, Ard helped make a tackle at Kentucky's 21-yard line.
12. The idea that it took South Carolina a half to figure out that disguising coverages would be a good idea is mind-boggling. If that really was part of the problem for the Gamecock defense in the first half, as Steve Spurrier has suggested, it is concerning.
13. South Carolina's blocking from wide receivers on screen passes was well below average for a majority of the evening. Shamier Jeffery was beaten on several occasions and it made life difficult for Pharoh Cooper
14. Brent Musburger addressed the Charleston tragedy and the removal of the Confederate flag from the statehouse ground very tastefully and poignantly in the third quarter.
15. Patrick Towles was a little too concerned about his hair.
16. The diving deflection from Josh Forrest on Orth's throw to Cooper on South Carolina's first drive of the third quarter was one of the biggest plays of the night. A completion there makes it 24-14 and South Carolina's offense finally gets a spark.
17. South Carolina's special teams continue to impress. Sean Kelly averaged 40.7 yards per punt and pinned the Wildcats inside the 5 in the opening minutes. The Gamecocks allowed just 16 yards per kick return and Elliott Fry hit his final three field goals on the night.
18. Brandon Wilds picked up 38 yards on a pair of consecutive designed runs out of the Wildcat formation. The Gamecocks never went back to that for the rest of the evening.
19. If Lorenzo Nunez is as good a runner as advertised, you would think South Carolina might bring him in close to the end zone to give the offense a dual-threat player taking snaps.
20. Kudos to the SEC Network for some really interesting numbers on Steve Spurrier's offense during his time in Columbia. The Gamecocks passed the ball on 55% of their plays from 2005-09, but have run the ball on 54% of offensive snaps since.
21. South Carolina's defense missed three big opportunities. The Wildcats coughed up the football three different times and recovered all three. Two would have kept Kentucky off the scoreboard and another would have given South Carolina possession and the Wildcat 25-yard line.
22. Shon Carson was back returning kickoffs and did what he's done his entire career. Carson averaged 21 yards per return, a slight improvement over his career average of 19.9 yards.
23. As much as Gamecock fans may want to deny it, Kentucky was a better team Saturday night and the Wildcats are currently a better program. UK outplayed and outcoached South Carolina for the second consecutive season.
24. This Gamecock team looks a lot like the 2003-04 Gamecocks. There are playmakers on the field who can contribute, but the depth is not there.
25. Unless a whole bunch changes for South Carolina very quickly, a 5-7 season seems likely.