The day we have all been waiting for has finally arrived, after 8 long months Kentucky football is back. There is a buzz surrounding the Kentucky football program that has not existed since 2007. Expectations are as high as they have been in quite some time.
Here are Four Keys to a Kentucky Win in Hattiesburg:
1. Slow down Ito Smith
A year ago the Kentucky defense could not stop Ito Smith, the senior running back ran for 173 yards and a touchdown on 36 carries in last year’s game. The Kentucky defense ranked 110th nationally in run defense last year allowing 226 yards per game, if the lofty expectations for this season are to come to fruition the Wildcat’s run defense must improve. It all starts up front in the trenches as Adrian Middelton, Naquez Pringle, and Matt Elam lead the defensive line. I expect linebackers Courtney Love and Jordan Jones to show up in a big way in run defense today.
2. Protect the ball
Turnovers were a real issue for Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson in all 10 of the senior’s starts last season. The Kentucky staff has put a real emphasis on ball protection throughout the off-season to the quarterback. Throughout fall camp Johnson did not commit a turnover in 11-on-11 action, a good sign for the Kentucky offense. If Johnson and the rest of the offense can limit turnovers there’s no reason that the Kentucky offense doesn’t score 30-plus points today.
3. Run, Run, Run
The Kentucky offense failed to reach 100 yards rushing in last year’s contest against Southern Miss. That is unacceptable. Look for offensive coordinator Eddie Gran to call Benny Snell’s number early and often. Snell hopes to make a big impact on today’s game as he remembers how it felt to watch from the sidelines in last year’s game against Southern Miss.
4. Play a full game
We all know what happened in last year’s game, the Cats looked unstoppable in the 1st half only to implode in disastrous fashion down the stretch. Mark Stoops has preached to his team throughout the off-season that they must play a full 60 minutes. More depth on both sides of the ball will be a tremendous asset for Stoops in today’s game and the rest of the season.