LEXINGTON, Ky. — It didn’t take long for South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw’s pursuit of a Southeastern Conference record to end Saturday night at Kentucky.
Shaw entered the game having completed 20 consecutive passes — his final 20 after throwing an incomplete pass on his first attempt in last week’s win over Missouri. But on his first attempt against the Wildcats, he threw an incomplete pass intended for receiver Bruce Ellington.
So the SEC record for consecutive completions still belongs to Tennessee’s Tee Martin, who had 24 in 1998, including 23 against the Gamecocks, which is the league’s single-game record.
Shaw’s 20 were the second-most in league history in one game. In the overall consecutive completions category, Shaw is tied with Mississippi’s Kent Austin, who had 20 straight in 1982.
As expected, cornerback Akeem Auguste played Saturday. It was his first action since last season’s second game, against Georgia, his only action of 2011. He redshirted last season with a foot injury and hadn’t played yet this season because of a groin injury.
His first appearance Saturday came on Kentucky’s fourth drive. On the drive’s second play, Kentucky quarterback Jalen Whitlow hit A.J. Legree for a 20-yard pass, despite Auguste being flagged for pass interference on Legree.
USC’s coaches planned to only give Auguste limited action Saturday because they didn’t want to rush him back and risk him getting hurt again. So Jimmy Legree started at the cornerback spot opposite Victor Hampton, as Legree has all season.
Of the pass interference, Auguste said, “I got there a little early. I know. But hey, we’re going to work on that. It’s stuff I can fix.”
He said he played two series and expects to play more next week against Georgia.
“Next week, it’s on,” he said. “You know it. It is on.”
Shell starts again
Brandon Shell, a redshirt freshman offensive tackle from Goose Creek High, started at right tackle Saturday night. It was his first start since the season opener at Vanderbilt, when he started at left tackle.
For the next two games, Mike Matulis started at left tackle, Cody Gibson at right tackle. Last week against Missouri, Corey Robinson got his first career start, at left tackle, and Matulis moved over to right tackle.
Shell had been the backup right tackle since the opener. The coaches think he might be more comfortable there, because he played that position in high school.
Line coach Shawn Elliott was frustrated with his group’s performance against Alabama-Birmingham, which led to the changes for the Missouri game.
At Kentucky, Robinson again started at left tackle. The interior of the line was the same as it has been all season — left guard A.J. Cann, center T.J. Johnson and right guard Ronald Patrick.
This and that
Saturday was USC’s fifth game ever when ranked No. 6 or higher. The Gamecocks are now 3-2 in such games. They lost to Vanderbilt in 2007 when they were No. 6, beat North Carolina State and Florida State in 1984 when they were No. 5, and lost to Navy in 1984 when they were No. 2, the week after the FSU game.
Free safety D.J. Swearinger returned for a one-game suspension for a helmet-to-helmet hit. He had three tackles against Kentucky and broke up a pass.