Look, I know when I was in college (all of two weeks ago,) I had a tendency to tune out the entire semester and only pay attention when the teacher was handing out the study guide. I get it. Sometimes there are more important things going on, like KSR liveblogs, and you know, the internet. So UK footballs players, your final exam will be the Clemson Tigers, four quarters, multiple choice. Keep these things in mind, and you should be fine. I think.
1.) Shut down CJ Spiller. Spiller seems to be the only guy worth anything on Clemson’s team, as he’s all the analysts will talk about when discussing this bowl match up. And for good reason. The guy is a legit football player, and happens to be lining up at RB, a position UK has been particularly weak against since I can remember. With the loss of Maxwell, it would seem as though our chances would only get worse. However, just as a random statistical comparison that may actually mean nothing, Locke and Cobb both rushed for 89 against South Carolina. Spilller? Just 18. That’s gotta mean something right?
2.) In the same neighborhood, Kentucky has to have dominant performances from it’s Defense. With the loss of Maxwell, the linebackers are going to have to find it in themselves to step up as a unit. This includes you, Micah Johnson. I won’t go so far as to say that Micah has been a let down this season, but we were all expecting a bit more from the Senior. In words that we have all heard our parents mutter at one time or another, we’re not mad we’re just disappointed. This is Micah’s chance to prove himself to NFL scouts, as well as entrench himself forever in Kentucky Football Lore (I’m sure we all know which one is more important.) Far be it from me to place the duty of a team on one person, but it’s up to him to find a way to stop Spiller, and who walks away with a W on Sunday could very well come down to that match up.
3.) In something that probably could have gone under the last point, if I weren’t too determined not to have the paragraph an unseemly size, the Cats need to see improved play from Trevard Lindley. It’s no secret that Trevard has been battling injuries most of this year. Lindley, who was once considered a first round draft pick, is now seeing his projections slip perhaps past the first day. While there is no concern with Lindley’s future (he will make an NFL team,) if Kentucky is to win he has got to go out and prove himself once again. Clemson may butter it’s bread with the run game, but they have a great receiver in Ford, too. Fortunately, Lindley at the top of his game could make T.O. put on sunglasses to hide back his tears, so let’s see a little something in your last game as a wildcat. Don’t forget, it was against Clemson a few years ago that we first realized Lindley’s potential.
4.) We need huge performances from all aspects of our offense. I’m going to break ranks for a second and give a compliment to the UT Vols – they have a great defense. There’s no denying it. But even with that being said, in the second half of this years game the Kentucky Offense was simply pathetic. Whether it was the play calls or the lack of execution, Kentucky could barely move the ball an inch, unless it was done by the Defense. The Offense has got to get itself back on track, and I think it will. With Derrick Locke looking to impress some Pro Teams, Randall Cobb being Randall Cobb, and Morgan Newton having a month more worth of practices under his belt, the Offense should come out firing on Sunday.
5.) Finally, the team has got to find a way to get excited about this game. Not to rehash what Matt said in last night’s post, but the vibe around the team right now is drastically different than that of the past bowl teams. Maybe it’s because they wanted to be in Florida right now, maybe it’s because they wanted to be with their families on Christmas. Who could blame them if it’s both? But the fact of the matter is, these kids have a job to do. Kentucky is playing for history, to be the first UK team to win four bowls straight. That combined with potentially Coach Brooks final game at the helm of the program, and the Wildcats should have plenty of motivation. Whether that sinks in or not, comes down to the Coach. Brooks, let’s see what you’re made of.
All in all, it’s going to be a tough game for our Cats to win. That being said, if the Cats can get excited, the defense can step up, and the offense can revert to form, then the good guys win again making it four straight in the post season.