Kentucky is going to beat Murray State. That’s inevitable. Sharpie.
However, it probably won’t be pretty for an entire 60 minutes. Under Mark Stoops the Cats have defeated each FCS opponent by more than 20 points a game, but more often than not the game has featured uncomfortable moments.
Murray State has lost by 13 and 39 points this season, but they’ll play up against an in-state foe. Even though Kentucky will eventually control the game and leave with a win, there are a few things that will frustrate some of the fanbase.
Those are bad.
2. Underneath Passes
“Why are they playing eight yards off the receiver?” was a complaint by many fans when Eastern Michigan dinked and dunked the ball down the field against Kentucky. The Cats primarily played zone (more specifically, a cover three) because EMU’s passing game was at its best utilizing the back-shoulder fade, a man coverage killer.
Murray State’s scheme is also pretty good at picking apart man defense. Even though Ryan Lemond isn’t a fan of their wide receivers, quarterback Drew Anderson has experience scoring points in the MAC. He plays in an Air Raid that uses mesh routes across the middle of the field to spring free open targets.
The logical way to defend Murray is to play zone and force Anderson (54.5 completion percentage through two games) to consistently complete passes underneath. Kentucky’s secondary has struggled with zone assignments in the past. This can be a good time to work out a few coverage kinks with uptempo passing opponents, Missouri and Texas A&M, looming in the near future.
“It’s about us” has been Kentucky’s mantra since game one. The thought is that if UK plays its best game, the result will take care of itself. If Kentucky played a clean football game against Florida, the game would not have been close. This week is an opportunity to clean up the mistakes before Kentucky hosts an opponent that will make them pay for every mishap.
Kentucky has not shut out an opponent since the Cats blanked Miami 42-0 at Paul Brown Stadium in September of 2009. Kentucky’s defense is stout enough to pitch a shut out, but it probably won’t happen. Murray State will not stop throwing the ball. All it takes is one missed fourth quarter assignment from an inexperienced member of the secondary to put seven points on the board.
5. Terry Wilson in the Second Half
Every time I thought Eddie Gran was ready to take Stephen Johnson out of a blowout game, he did not. Fans rightly have injury concerns, but Gran will want to see his young quarterback get some experience, even if it is against an FCS opponent. I expect Wilson to start the first series of the second half, unless the Cats already have 50 points on the scoreboard.