Knowing The Enemy 2014--Kentucky
Record: 5-1, 2-1 in SEC
by Bryan Follins
The Kentucky Wildcats visit Tiger Stadium this Saturday as an improved football team. The Wildcats started the season returning 15 starters, seven on offense and eight on defense. Their only loss of the season was in three overtimes at Florida. The Tigers have played Kentucky five times since 2001, winning four games. The Purple and Gold have been very successful against the Wildcats since the turn of the century. In football, LSU has an overall 39-16-1 record against the team from the Bluegrass state. However, anyone familiar with the football history of these two schools, knows the games can get very competitive and extremely physical. The average margin of victory for the Purple and Gold over the entire series is eight points.
On offense, Kentucky sophomore quarterback Patrick Towles has thrown for 1541 yards this season. He has passed for eight touchdowns and been intercepted four times, and has a 62.5 completion percentage for the season. He passes for an average of 259 yards per game against league opponents.
Kentucky has four returning starters on the offensive line, which may explain why they are a good offensive team. They are senior left tackle Darrian Miller, junior left guard Zach West, sophomore center John Toth, and junior right tackle Jordan Swindle.
The Wildcats have four runners averaging more than five yards per carry. Freshman Stanley Williams averages 8.8 yards per run, junior Braylon Heard 7.4 yards per carry, sophomore JoJo Kemp 5.3 yards per carry, and freshman Mikel Horton 5.2 yards per rush. Williams is also a dangerous receiver, averaging 15 yards per reception, and a treacherous all-purpose player. He has 180 yards in kickoff returns for the season.
Kentucky has nine receivers averaging in double figure per catch. Four of the better ones are sophomore Ryan Timmons, 27 receptions, 315 yards and two touchdowns on the season, averaging 11.7 yards per catch. There is senior Demarco Robinson, 17 receptions, 254 yards, averaging 14.9 yards per catch. Javess Blue, a senior has 12 catches for 225 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 18.8 yards per grab. Freshman Garrett Johnson has 13 receptions for 210 yards, averaging 16.2 yards per catch and two touchdowns.
Like most SEC schools this year, Kentucky is not lacking in offense.
On defense, Kentucky has been vulnerable to the run. In the loss to Florida, the Wildcats gave up 237 yards on the ground, allowing 4.7 yards per rush. In the win against South Carolina, Kentucky surrendered 282 yards on the ground, yielding an average of 5.9 yards per run. They coughed up a 500 yards in total offense against South Carolina. In the Florida game they allowed 532 yards of total offense.
The Wildcats have some good players on defense. Junior safety A.J. Stamps is among the league leaders in interceptions with three. Senior safety Ashley Lowery has two interceptions. Junior linebacker Josh Forrest, a former wide receiver, leads the team in tackles with 46, 26 unassisted.
Junior linebacker Khalid Henderson is second on the team in tackles with 35, 16 solos. Senior defensive end Alvin Dupree leads the team in sacks with three. He also has an interception. Senior defensive end Za’Darius Smith has 2.5 tackles for losses, tfls, with 1.5 sacks.
The plot for this encounter is different than recent LSU-Kentucky contests. The Wildcats come to Tiger Stadium near the top of the SEC East race. A loss would not end their chances to win the East, but they are not coming to Tiger Town with losing on their minds.
The Purple and Gold are still mathematically alive in the SEC West race, but a lot of crazy things must happen for them to win the West. Their chances to win the division are slim to none, and slim is standing on a banana peel.
It is like role reversal.
Nevertheless, the season is still here. The Tigers can still work to improve their game. A win against Kentucky would clinch a non-losing regular season. A sixth win may also make the Tigers bowl eligible, depending on the status of Sam Houston State, an FCS opponent from earlier in the season. This is what the NCAA has to say about the matter:
“The NCAA allows one victory per season over a Division I FCS (formerly I-AA) team to count toward an FBS team's bowl eligibility, so long as the FCS team has supplied financial aid for football averaging out to at least 56.7 full scholarships (90% of the limit of 63 allowed to FCS schools) over "a rolling two-year period" that can include the current season.”
This is a conference game. The Tigers need to be ready to play.
What is the name of the Kentucky mascot?