It’s GAMEDAY!!! Your Kentucky Wildcats play host to the Eastern Michigan Eagles this evening @ 7:30 p.m. EMU comes to town after surviving a Week 1 scare against Coastal Carolina, escaping with a 30-23 victory. UK had a shaky first half, but cleaned things up on the way to a convincing 38-24 win over Toledo. Two seasons ago Eastern Michigan came to Lexington and gave the Wildcats all we wanted; they shut down the run and out gained the ‘Cats overall, but fell 24-20.
1) Strong Secondary
- Eastern Michigan returns a talented, veteran secondary that will look to slow down the Wildcat receivers that shined in Week 1. At Safety, Vince Calhoun returns as a 4-year starter and reigning 3rd Team All-MAC selection. Another 4-year player, Brody Hoying, plays the Nickel position and already recorded an interception in their Week 1 victory over Coastal Carolina. Hoying also specializes in coming up to attack the run and will be seen all over the field. The most talented returning 4-year member of the EMU secondary is preseason 1st Team All-MAC selection Kevin McGill. McGill led the MAC by far in passer rating allowed a season ago and will be seen playing on Sundays next fall. These three veteran players will force the Kentucky receiving corps to take another step up after a great performance against Toledo.
2) Another Dual-Threat Quarterback
- I know the phrase “dual-threat quarterback” has a tendency to send chills up the spins of UK fans and Senior QB Mike Glass III is exactly that. Last season, Glass rushed for over 400 yards and 7.5 yards per rush. He is also a very accurate passer, completing two-thirds of his career passing attempts with only 1 interception 9 games under center for Eastern Michigan. Against Coast Carolina, Glass was nearly perfect, going 20/22 with 3 touchdowns but wasn’t really able to get anything going with his legs. While the Senior QB is very accurate and dangerous scrambling out of the pocket, EMU’s offense simply doesn’t create many big plays so if the Kentucky defense can force 3rd down situations the Eagles will have a hard time scoring enough to pull the upset.
3) Unimpressive Week 1 Win
- To put it simply, Coastal Carolina isn’t very good. It took a 16-0 3rd quarter for EMU to comeback and win last week. Offensively, the Eagles were only able to manage 1 play of over 20 yards overall and only rushed for 3.34 yards per carry. Through the air, Mike Glass III may have completed 20 of 22 pass attempts, but only managed 8.5 yards per attempt. Defensively, EMU capitalized on 4 interceptions while being outgained by nearly 100 total yards. For a team expecting to make another run at a bowl game it wasn’t exactly the impressive performance that their fans would have been looking for to open the season. That being said, Week 1 jitters should now be behind them and a win is a win.
4) Too Close For Comfort in 2017
- The Eagles held Kentucky to under 100 yards rushing, including just 75 yards on 21 carries from Benny Snell. Their defense refused to allow big plays and outgained the ‘Cats 312 to 228. Luckily for the Wildcats, EMU lost the turnover battle 3 to 1 and we were able to hold on for 24-20 victory. Kentucky will be out to prove that the 2017 close call was a fluke and that our improvement as a program has put us in a place to blowout the Eagles. Conversely, I’m sure Eastern Michigan will be ready to prove they are up for the task of competing with a 10-win SEC team.
5) E-Tough is Real
- 6th year Head Coach Chris Creighton exudes toughness. After going just 3-21 in his first two seasons at the helm, EMU is 20-19 since. He has won everywhere he has been in his head coaching career and he has managed to turn a perennial MAC doormat into a contender. From his outstanding beard, to the car mechanic coaches shirts, to the grey turf field at home this team embodies their head coach on the field. While there should be an obvious talent gap this go-around, I can guarantee you that the Eastern Michigan Eagles will be prepared and ready for a battle at Kroger Field.