1) Talented Young Quarterback
Tennessee-Martin doesn’t necessarily possess a high-powered offense based on the numbers, primarily due to a lack of success on 3rd Down and in the Red Zone, but Redshirt Freshman QB John Bachus III has proven that he has the talent to win football games. Starting all 11 games this season, Bachus III has thrown for 2392 yards while connecting on 18 touchdowns to just 8 interceptions. He has also rushed for 324 yards and 3 touchdowns. His strong 2019 campaign has earned him on the honor of being a candidate for the Jerry Rice award, which is the award given to the best freshman in the FCS.
2) Big Play Running Back
In an offense that relies a lot on big plays, Junior Running Back Peyton Logan is one of the most consistent threats to pick up chunk yardage. The Preseason All-OVC Second Team selection is averaging an impressive 7.2 yards per carry on the season. In just 9 games, Logan has gained over 800 yards and found the end zone 6 times. He will look to run outside and get the second and third levels of the Kentucky defense. The ‘Cats defense will need to do a good job at containing Logan on the ground.
3) Multiple Threats Through the Air
While Peyton Logan racks up some big gains on the ground, the Skyhawks have also found success with some big plays through the air. Redshirt Sophomore Tight End Colton Dowell is their leading receiver in terms of yards with 724 on just 35 catches, good for over 20 yards per grab. Senior Wide Receiver Terry Williams is a small, quick pass-catcher that leads the team with 50 catches and will be Bachus III primary option to move the chains in short yard situations. Their third threat through the air is Redshirt Senior Jaylon Moore who has seen 5 of his 15 receptions go for touchdowns while averaging nearly 19 yards per catch.
4) Disruptive Defense
The Skyhawks 3-3-5 defensive scheme will give the ‘Cats a different look than they have seen yet this season. This unit is looking to cause havoc in the backfield and force turnovers. The Tennessee-Martin defense has an impressive 75 tackles for loss this season to go along with 28 sacks. Our offensive line will need to not overlook today’s FCS opponent and come ready to play. They have also collected 12 interceptions on the season. This group plays a high-risk, high-reward style of football on the defensive side of the ball. Big plays will come, but Kentucky will need to value ball security and stay ahead of the chains as much as possible.
5) Strength vs. Strength
This game will come down to which team can impose their will on the other. Tennessee-Martin has been successful at stopping with allowing only 3.6 yards per carry and around 130 yards on the ground per game. This is in stark contrast to the Wildcats who have been one of the best rushing attacks in college football since Lynn Bowden took over at Quarterback. In addition, the Skyhawks, as outlined above, really rely on big plays both through the air and on the ground to make their living offensive. Defensively, Kentucky has been great in not allowing 20+ yard plays this season coming in ranked in the Top 30 nationally in that category. If Kentucky can continue to find success running the ball and managing big plays defensively they should pull out to an early lead and cruise. However, if Tennessee-Martin can get chunk plays and cause havoc defensively this could turn into an unwanted Saturday afternoon battle in the rain for ‘Cats fans.