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Governor’s Cup Positional Analysis

In a seemingly quiet Governor’s Cup game week, the Cats and Cards are preparing for Saturday’s showdown. Louisville is favored; but after digging in on statistics, schedules, and other factors, I wouldn’t be comfortable declaring either a prohibitive favorite.

Here’s an interpretation of position group analysis:


Quarterback: Louisville

Lamar Jackson or Kyle Bolin? Most likely both based upon situation, weather, down-distance, and momentum. True freshman Lamar Jackson has, at times, put on a freakish athletic show and, on other occasions, reminded Cardinal fans that he is just one year removed from high school. Jackson is most dangerous with his legs; however, he’s shown improvement as a passer. Lexington’s Kyle Bolin was forced into action last year and with the help of DeVante Parker, beat the Cats 44-40. Bolin is a pure pocket-passing quarterback. Within the U of L offense, it all starts and finishes with the quarterback position.

Drew Barker will be making his second start in the biggest game of the year. While I don’t feel Barker is easy to rattle, the moment is going to be awfully big for the redshirt freshman. His first start was efficient as he managed the elements and explosive run game for a 58-10 win over Charlotte. Drew will be helped by a trio of capable running backs.

Running back: Kentucky

Both Boom Williams and JoJo Kemp went over the 100-yard mark against Charlotte. Sihiem King added 5 carries for 90 yards as Mikel Horton remains at the ready. A new wrinkle in a jumbo/short yardage package was the addition of 336-pound fullback, Jacob Hyde. Kentucky is coming off of 415 yards against Charlotte and 225 against a Vanderbilt defense that was only allowing 113 per game.

Louisville’s leading rusher is quarterback,Lamar Jackson. RB Brandon Radcliff has gained 569 yards and scored 5 touchdowns.

Offensive line: Even

Against Charlotte, the Cats had something going on the right side with Cole Mosier and George Asafo-Adjei. It became obvious that part of the Wildcat OL struggles correlated with Asafo-Adjei’s absence due to injury. Left tackle Jordan Swindle will have his hands full on Saturday and will require RB/TE assistance versus Louisville edge rushers. Kentucky has allowed 27 QB sacks and 74 tackles for loss (TFL). UK is averaging 379 yards and 25.3 points per game.

The Cardinals have given up 43 QB sacks and 86 TFLs. Starting three freshmen has been a trial by fire for the U of L front five. Even with the overabundance of lost yardage plays, Louisville is averaging 398 yards per game and 28 points.

Receiver/TE: Louisville

Cards average 253 passing yards per game as it spreads catches throughout a young yet effective receiving corps. Replacing DeVante Parker has proven to be as challenging as Kentucky finding its next Bud Dupree. James Staples and James Quick lead with catches, yards, and touchdowns. TE Mickey Crum has developed into a chain moving target.

Kentucky’s passing yardage has declined as the season progressed. It’s now averaging 210 yards per game. Dorian Baker leads the team in catches as Garrett Johnson tops the receiving corps in yardage. CJ Conrad and Darryl Long have not been targeted nor thrown to; however both are potential first down producing pass catchers.


Defensive line: Even

This advantage or lack thereof may surprise. But, following research, Kentucky and Louisville have two defensive linemen in its Top 10 tacklers. For Kentucky, Cory Johnson is third and Farrington Huguennin is sixth.

Sheldin Rankins leads the Cardinal defensive front with 48 tackles, 5 QB sacks, and 10 TFLs. Rankins will be the best defensive lineman in the game and is assured to play on Sundays. DeAngelo Brown has 6.5 TFLs and 2 QB sacks.

Linebackers: Louisville

The Cards are deep and talented at this position. In the preseason, UofL LBs were considered potentially the best in the ACC. Keith Kelsey, James Burgess, DeVante Fields, Keith Brown, and Trevon Young are active, disruptive, and aggressive. An extremely high number of TFLs and QB sacks/hurries statistically supports: 30 QB sacks and 80 Tackles for Loss.

Secondary: Louisville

Louisville has intercepted 15 passes. Its secondary is not as dynamic as 2014, but still a solid group led by former Georgia Bulldog Josh Harvey-Clemons. He’s joined at safety by Charles Williams. Corners are fellow former Dawg Shaq Wiggins and Trumaine Washington.

Kentucky’s true freshmen cornerbacks are gaining momentum and confidence with each snap. Chris Westry and Derrick Baity will be challenged on Saturday. The Wildcat safeties are its only true, SEC two deep at the position. AJ Stamps and freshman Mike Edwards are this week’s starters with Darius West and Marcus McWilson in the rotation. Given the Cats’ 8 interceptions compared to 15 for the Cardinals, this analysis was close. Louisville has played poor offenses in the closing portion of its schedule.


Kicker Austin MacGinnis’ health is again under the microscope. Miles Butler has ably filled in for the All-SEC performer. Landon Foster has somewhat returned to 2014 form. Governor’s Cup field position battle will be critical.

Louisville’s Traveon Samuel returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, but other than that, the two teams are a wash.

Miscellaneous Thoughts

  • Louisville best position group: Linebacker
  • Kentucky best position group: Safety
  • If it rains: Advantage Kentucky
  • Kentucky wins at home if it plays like it did vs: Missouri (When Maty Mauk existed)
  • Louisville wins if it plays like it did on the road vs: Perhaps NC State. Louisville has not played well on the road in 2015.

What does this mean?

Numbers give the Cardinals a slight edge. The game could come down to which freshman quarterback makes the least mistakes (Lamar Jackson or Drew Barker) and which struggling offensive line plays the best; however, in a rivalry game, the unexpected is expected. Last year’s game broke the trend of the winner goes to the team with the highest rushing totals. If the game comes down to the ground game, Kentucky would have the advantage.

For the Cats to win, it must stay out of certain passing situations. Louisville’s pass rushers are just too good for Kentucky’s offensive line to sustain. Conversely, UK’s pass rushers have to produce QB sacks and TFLs as field position will play a critical role.

As for who wins? Vegas says Louisville. BBN says UK. Card Nation says UofL. As for me, Saturday is a toss-up dependent upon situational execution, field position, and turnovers. For the Wildcats, 1st down offensive plays cannot continue to lead to 2nd and 10 plus. Passes have to be caught. Tackles cannot be missed.

Sit back and enjoy, this one may go down to the wire. 

Article written by Freddie Maggard

Former University of Kentucky Quarterback and Andy Griffith Fan Club President

15 Comments for Governor’s Cup Positional Analysis

  1. za
    12:17 pm November 25, 2015 Permalink

    I really, really hope we see the jumbo package with Hyde in there on 1st down. Love your analysis articles.

  2. dean winchester
    12:39 pm November 25, 2015 Permalink

    Forecast calling for rain….

  3. Marine5150
    1:39 pm November 25, 2015 Permalink

    I agree Hyde needs to need in the rotation even if he is a decoy. He can be a real X factor this game…and a loud crowd!!! If our O line isn’t the best I’m hoping we see some screen plays up the middle. A trick play or two would be great…like against the Gators three years ago. Mind blowing!!!
    Change The Game

  4. cats paw
    2:46 pm November 25, 2015 Permalink

    thats all nice and all but you seem to have left out the most important comparison and the very reason Louisville has owned us for years….coaching!

    • KevTucky
      7:09 pm November 26, 2015 Permalink

      I can’t think of a year Petrino didn’t have the better team. This year it is pretty evenly matched.

  5. bigpops
    3:30 pm November 25, 2015 Permalink

    Coaching: off the field I think we would all agree who the better man is, but on the field and in the locker room there is no comparison. Petrino will exploit UK’s weaknesses and in the final post game press conference of the year we will learn that UK is going back to work and will come back bigger, faster, and stronger next year. Free Kool-Aid for everyone!!!!

    • Angelo
      12:30 am November 26, 2015 Permalink

      Man, i hope you are mistaken…

  6. dean winchester
    4:24 pm November 25, 2015 Permalink

    Petrino isnt near the coach he was pre-motorcycle rides….and while he still csn coach offense…he doesnt have Brohm….or Lefors….or even Dave Ragone running his offense. Pray for rain….sloppy field would be in our favor

    • Rsn2GoBlu
      6:55 pm November 25, 2015 Permalink

      You do realize we now play on artificial sports grass?? A little rain is not going to impact the running game. Now rain and wind could impact the passing game.

  7. leon singleton
    7:06 am November 26, 2015 Permalink

    With Drew Kentucky has the edge at quarterback.

  8. FunkyMonkey
    9:29 am November 26, 2015 Permalink

    I have no confidence in Shannon Dawson. He is no Lincoln Riley. Have you seen one creative play from him all year?,…

    • CATandMONKEY
      10:53 am November 26, 2015 Permalink

      Maybe one or two but I don’t know if they were intentional.

  9. bigblueforever
    10:29 am November 26, 2015 Permalink

    The good thing about Saturday is it will be basketball season at about 3p.
    We will go on to have a great recruiting class.
    Stoops and Vince Marrow will get raises because we are making such great strides.
    UK will be 4-8 in 2016, but it’s OK. He just needs time
    2017: rinse and repeat.
    And so it goes with UK football. Always has. Always will.

    • UK Big Board Update
      8:12 pm November 26, 2015 Permalink

      Then quit crying about it…