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Unit Battle: UofL D-Line vs. UK O-Line

The annual Governor’s Cup match-up is a mere two weeks away and each side of the rivalry is laying out reasons for a potential victory.  September 2nd’s match-up in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium will see a battle of two teams who are starting in much different positions as the season begins, but the result here could alter the course of both seasons drastically.  It seems cliché, but this game will be won in the trenches.  All-SEC Second Team selection, Larry Warford, and 3-year letter, Matt Smith, headline Kentucky’s Offensive Line, but there are some questions about depth and youth outside of those two entering the season.  Louisville’s Defensive Line, however, returns just one starter in Brandon Dunn, but has a more mature set of backups across the board than does Kentucky.  This individual battle will prove instrumental in victory for both red and blue, but which of these two units will reign supreme on the 2nd of September?

 

Louisville’s Defensive Line

In Charlie Strong’s first two seasons as Head Coach of the Cardinals, the rushing defense, particularly his front four, have been the main strength of his team.  The past two seasons have seen Louisville allow under four yards per carry on defense, 3.98 in 2010 and 3.0 in 2011 (53rd and 9th nationally). Part of Louisville’s recent defensive success in the rushing game comes due to the aggressive nature of their play calling, ranking top-20 in sacks forced the past two seasons.  The 1:30 mark in this video shows an outstanding example of their assertive defensive play calling against Kentucky last season.  Louisville showed five men at the line but only rushed four, despite that they were still able to beat Kentucky’s Offensive Line quickly, registering a sack upon Morgan Newton.  While Strong and Defensive Coordinator Vance Bedford’s scheme has proven effective in the past, it remains to be seen how a unit with only one returning starter will behave in their opening game which happens to be against their biggest rival.  The biggest key for the Cardinals’ front four will be ensuring that they force enough pressure on Kentucky’s passing attack, which was that most inefficient in the nation last season, coming in at 4.8 yards per attempt.  If Strong and crew can force Kentucky to become a one-dimensional offense, it could become a long day at the office for Joker and his offense.

 

Kentucky’s Offensive Line

Perhaps the greatest strength of Kentucky’s thin offense that returns six starters is the returning experience on the Offensive Line (which returns two of the previously mentioned six).  Larry Warford and Matt Smith will be required to do most of the grunt-work in the early portion of the 2012 season, which will see players like Zach West (Frosh.) and Darrian Miller (Soph.) gaining starting experience on the fly.  A massive issue in Kentucky’s poor offense last year was the passing game, in particular the amount of sacks allowed.  While finishing 104th nationally (allowing 35 sacks on the year) is bad for any offensive line, it’s a two way street, the indecisive Quarterback play must be partially be blamed for that too.  Rushing efficiency is another key area in which the O-Line aids the offense, but that wasn’t a strength either last season, finishing 98th nationally only gaining 3.48 yards per carry.  Injuries were partly to blame for these inefficiencies, but skill level was another driving factor as well.  For Kentucky to win this individual match-up in the opening game, allowing time for Maxwell Smith to scan the field will be paramount for success.  Effective blocking for a much improved (Maxwell) Smith and upper-class running backs from Warford and (Matt) Smith among others, in my mind, will be the driving factor for a Wildcat victory on September 2nd.

 

“The Battle of the Trenches,” cliché as it sounds, will be prevalent in the Labor Day Weekend showdown between Louisville and Kentucky, but which side will win this battle?  It’s near impossible to say; on one hand you have a Defensive Line returning only one starter, but they’re the home team who runs an aggressive scheme season after season.  On the other, you have an Offensive Line who returns a legitimate NFL talent alongside a 3-year letter winner, but is on the road breaking in young players from a bad (and injury plagued) offense last season.  It seemingly is near equal depending on how you view it, but which side will reign supreme? Only time will tell.

 

 

Article written by Jonathan Schuette

26 Comments for Unit Battle: UofL D-Line vs. UK O-Line



  1. Some Guy in Kentucky
    9:50 pm August 20, 2012 Permalink

    I agree, UK offensive line must come up big for the offense, and team as a whole, to be able succeed.



  2. UK Snuggie
    9:54 pm August 20, 2012 Permalink

    I love how you guys try to find the silver lining. UK will be lucky to win 4 games and you all make this match up sound like its an even match at the start.



  3. Bulldawg
    10:07 pm August 20, 2012 Permalink

    @ snuggie… UK was TERRIBLE last year and kept the game close. I am not saying that UK will be world beaters but to act like U of L is so great is just a lack of knowledge on your part. They play in a terrible conference and got beat by some of the lowly bottem dwellers of the big east last year. Their recruiting clas was 33 and UK 34. They both have unproven and inexperienced head coaches. So to say that UK is below par for SEC teams is a more than fair assessment, but to say that loserville is on another level to where the Cats can’t even compete is crazy. I don’t know which team will win but I can almost guarentee you it will be a competitive and close game. GO CATS!!!!! My prediction… UK 19 U of l7. Post your prediction and let’s see who gets closer. Nothing personal, I just get tired of people not even waiting until the season starts to be negative. If the Cats are terrible, their will be plenty of time to be negative later.



  4. Linda Taylor
    10:09 pm August 20, 2012 Permalink

    2-Time will tell. Why be so negative. There is reason for hope and UL is definitely over-hyped and over-rated. If we can get to that game without any more major injuries we have a shot of winning.



  5. Bulldawg
    10:10 pm August 20, 2012 Permalink

    I meant UK 19, UofL 17



  6. UK Snuggie
    10:13 pm August 20, 2012 Permalink

    Bulldawg… I hope you prove me wrong because I’d like to see UK win this game but I just don’t see it. My score is U of L 17 and UK 9. I’m just calling it as I see it.



  7. tdogg40330
    10:14 pm August 20, 2012 Permalink

    3) PREACH IT SON !!!!



  8. Maxwell
    10:21 pm August 20, 2012 Permalink

    I can’t wait to watch Mister Cobble just fall on thier quarterback.



  9. MtnCat
    10:25 pm August 20, 2012 Permalink

    Kentucky has something to prove, Louisville is over hyped.
    Sounds like an upset in the making to me.

    Joker, the honeymoon is over. Time to rise and shine. Don’t come home a loser and expect things to be alright.



  10. John
    10:46 pm August 20, 2012 Permalink

    U of L returns one starter? You must not have watched many U of L football games last year. It didn’t matter who started last year because they rotated D-linemen in and out like hotcakes. They have plenty of depth and experience coming back even if you loosely consider it being “one starter” returning. Silver linings are easy to find especially if you don’t do your research on your opponent.



  11. Bulldawg
    11:08 pm August 20, 2012 Permalink

    Dear John, (ha ha I actually received one of those during basic training)

    loserville lost to Marshall… at home, and Florida international. They will be beatable. That’s all the research I need. UK may be a branch on the ugly tree of SEC football, but loserville and the best big east teams would only be twigs on the same tree. Tell me, why is U of L football so superior to UK?



  12. jill
    11:17 pm August 20, 2012 Permalink

    Last I remember a Big East “branch” kicked your ass in a bowl game…



  13. tdogg40330
    11:26 pm August 20, 2012 Permalink

    12) Last I remember UK has won alot more in the series lately than UL has ….



  14. Mike Rutherford
    11:52 pm August 20, 2012 Permalink

    #10 Stop trolling and go back to the Tard Chronicle



  15. jill
    12:22 am August 21, 2012 Permalink

    Shut up yall we won the national championship in 2006 and we will win it again this year. we will beat yall bad in football. LOL



  16. duh
    12:28 am August 21, 2012 Permalink

    Jill last time I looked we lead the all-time series with the Tards in basketball and football. It must really suck to live in our shadow. How do you like that old dusty banner your team has from 1986…ha ha that is the last time your team won the national championship in anything.



  17. Mr. T's Mohawk
    1:25 am August 21, 2012 Permalink

    15. Florida won the BCS Championship in 2006.



  18. The anti-cat
    8:36 am August 21, 2012 Permalink

    Sorry cat fans, but you are about to be joke-thorped. Cards 35, UK 14. Our 1, ahem, 3 starters on our defensive line will make max smith have baaaaddddddd dreams. Go Cards, Go America!!



  19. Beavis
    9:01 am August 21, 2012 Permalink

    12:22 am,,,,thats way past your bedtime isn’t it Jill ??? What championship ( that amounts to anything ) did U of L win in 2006 ? If memory serves me,,,,the Gators beat Ohio State for the football championship and the Gators beat UCLA for the basketball championship. Maybe Louisville won the thumb wrestling championship ?? The one thing I do agree with,,,the Cards will beat UK in football this year. They have to,,,,if they don’t the city of Louisville will have to close all access to the bridges to prevent mass suicides.



  20. jill
    9:44 am August 21, 2012 Permalink

    #16-LOL..since 1924 in football UL owns UK…how many of those games prior to 1924 did you see?



  21. CatfordLedford8
    10:18 am August 21, 2012 Permalink

    Dont know who the Tards have coming back on DLine, but who they had last year kept Newton on his a$$ the whole game. Hopefully Smith can keep us in it this year.

    I smell an upset. Cats-31 Tards-14



  22. Stevie B
    10:36 am August 21, 2012 Permalink

    Perhaps diving a bit deeper into those new defensive lineman on the Cardinal team would provide a better look at the Labor day UK/UL match up. Instead, you take the quick and easy way out by bloviating about the only two players you know.
    Sad, lazy and underserving of us loyal UK fans who are excited about our football team.

    Until you begin to show as much interest/passion in the matchups on the gridiron as you do on the hardwood, this will always be a site only to visit during hoops season.

    Steve Berry
    Class of 1993



  23. Keenan Burton says
    2:37 pm August 21, 2012 Permalink

    Cats will be ready to play. I don’t think the Cards will be able to kick around the Cats as people been sayin. Smash mouth time. both qb’s better be ready to get hit. Team with most sacks, most yards on the groundand a solid return game will win. I got the cats 22-17. Dupree shines, Coshik goes 110, and Smith plays error free ball. Go Cats!!



  24. Beavis
    3:57 pm August 21, 2012 Permalink

    Love the optimism but,,,,Please. The Cards will be ready and a slow starting UK will get run over.



  25. PGRoberts
    5:54 pm August 21, 2012 Permalink

    Keenan you are the man!!! Things will be rough at times in the SEC this year, but with an improved offense, pressure will not be as bad on the defense and UK will win this one. Dupree and Williamson make some big plays and UK finds the start of an offense like you, Andre, Stevie and Dickie had. UK 24 – U of L – 17. Go-Cats!!!



  26. jill
    6:09 pm August 21, 2012 Permalink

    UK won’t score any where near 24….UL 31 UK 14