Thursday, October 15, 2009
No one has had a more brutal SEC schedule than Kentucky. Florida, Bama, on the road to South Carolina then Auburn. At best, most SEC teams would be 1-2 in conference after this stretch of games (including Auburn) and UK would be too were it not for a failed 2 point conversion last week against South Carolina (and listening to Alabama fans build up South Carolina this week, South Carolina will be a BCS team!!??). What does it mean...it means UK is a better football team than their record indicates and they're a team coming into this game with their backs against the wall. We know what happens when you play a team that has run up against the SEC's best and are playing to save their seasons (see Arkansas last week). It means you better take them seriously or run the risk of dropping one you shouldn't.
Kentucky does many things well. They can spread the ball around (prior to their QB getting hurt) and they run the football very effectively. Defensively, they're salty enough to stay close against everyone they play. Like pretty much every team in this league, they have a tailback that can go the distance from anywhere on the field. Word is a true freshman gets the start on the road this week. That alone should equal a loss for Kentucky. You don't put a true freshman in that position unless he's a stud. No disrespect but if he were a stud he'd be playing elsewhere. Nonetheless, expect UK to rally around a young QB and do everything they can to help him succeed (establish a consistent running game, move the pocket and get rid of the ball quickly, lots of short/ball-control passing routes). He'll run the play called in the huddle and will be told not to audible on the line (too inexperienced, and one less thing to worry about). This means defensively we should have the upper hand via alignment and presnap reads. We should be able to bait a young QB into making mistakes down the field. So don't expect many deep throws from the freshman.
Offensively, we've got to establish a rhythm. We can't afford three and outs, ever! We have to give our defenders a rest...not so much from their defensive duties as from having to run 50 yard sprints covering punts. Getting in a rhythm offensively seems to happen quickest when we spread the ball around getting everyone involved early. Can't turn the ball over this week!
Ultimately, Auburn should win this game for no other reason than having an experienced QB and superior running game. We just can't afford to give away field position and thus points through fumbles, INTs, and poor kick coverage. If we can't stop the run this week against a team sporting a true freshman QB without the abilty to audible into a better running play, then hold on tight, the rest of the season will be extremely bumpy. I believe our defense rises to the occasion this week and we see more blitzing than we have all year. The offense capitalizes on the UK mistakes. Auburn rebounds before heading to Baton Rouge...but again it's close!