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Bunchy Stallings’ Emotional Homecoming

The Kentucky offensive lineman grew up just 75 miles from Hattiesburg, in McComb, Mississippi.  Today he’ll take on his father’s alma mater with more than 50 family members in the stands.  He’ll likely start at center for the first time in front of his large family, but this game means more for another reason.  This summer his mother Cynthia died after a year-long battle with cancer.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had a first game where my mom wasn’t there,” Stallings told The Courier-Journal. “I’m going to be honest, the Southern Miss game is going to be a little emotional for me. I know that going in.”

The physical offensive lineman will play with extra motivation to start the season in front of his family.

“It’s going to be huge, because I know I can actually still see a smile on their faces,” Bunchy said. “I know if I see a smile on their face, my mom is going to be smiling too.”

Names You Need to Know

There are four elite athletes involved in the passing game you may not have heard of before that will make an impact today.  In the secondary, Jordan Griffin and Davonte Robinson will play an important role: contain Southern Miss’ big play offense.  You know they’ll be doing their job — play mistake free football — if you don’t notice No. 9 and No. 3.

On offense, Eddie Gran plans on playing four freshmen wide receivers early to see how they’ll respond to the bright lights.  The two likely to receive the most play are Josh Ali and Clevan Thomas.  The latter has been working on his craft in the slot since January and has earned the right to get on the field.  Even though he’ll probably get the most reps, giving Charles Walker and Juice Johnson some relief in the slot, Ali is my pick to be the breakout star.

Following Dorian Baker’s injury, Juice has played more outside receiver than his normal inside position.  Gran will prefer to play on the outside one big guy — Kayaune Ross and Tavin Richardson — with a fast, top-end speed guy on the other side.  Juice will receive most of those reps, followed by Ali, who turned heads in week one of training camp and caught a few touchdowns in his first scrimmage.  Today he’ll bust a big play in front of fans for the first time.

So. Many. Sacks.

Mark Stoops and Matt House will bring the heat in the Hattiesburg heat.  Pressuring the quarterback will be a priority and the Cats will do it in a variety of ways.  Keon Howard will see rushers from the corner, nickel, inside and outside linebackers.  Kentucky will not let him get comfortable.  Before the day ends, UK will have at least five sacks.

Mike Edwards will Intercept a Pass

And the Cats will win 38-17.  Write it down.

Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR