Posted by Chip Patterson
Kentucky came painfully close to stunning the No. 8 Auburn Tigers at home last Saturday, only to have their hearts ripped out by a last minute field goal. The Wildcats fought till the end, but at the end of the night found themselves still winless in conference play. Unfortunately for first-year head coach Joker Phillips, that elusive first conference win will be even more difficult to obtain with leading rusher Derrick Locke doubtful for Saturday's matchup with No. 10 South Carolina.
The senior running back has been the cornerstone of the Wildcats offense, rushing for 574 yards and scoring seven times through the first six games of the season. The SEC's third-leading rusher suffered a shoulder stinger in the 37-34 loss to Auburn last week, limiting the use of his left arm. Locke has not been ruled out against the Gamecocks, but Phillips does not sound optimistic.
“If he can’t protect himself, we’re not going to put him out on the field,” Phillips said Wednesday morning. “He’ll be in the hotel on Friday night...we’ll take him to the hotel and he’ll be part of the 70 that travels. We’ll see how he feels on Saturday morning because (feeling) could come back at any moment, any day, anytime. It could be this afternoon, a week and a half, two weeks, who knows. But we’ve got to put him on the bus.”
If Locke is out, the rushing duties will likely fall in the hands of sophomore Donald Russell and junior wide receiver Randall Cobb. Cobb was a threat all over the field against the Tigers, rushing for two touchdowns, catching a touchdown pass, and throwing for another.