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Previewing the Cats and Dawgs

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September was kind to both Kentucky and Georgia. October, not so much. Both teams enter Saturday after losing three of their last four football games. In UK’s previous two matchups, it’s been outscored 94-37 in two uninspired blow outs. Georgia hasn’t fared much better as it lost to its arch rival Florida preceded by a concerning, touchdown-less 9-6 win over Missouri. UGA hasn’t scored an offensive touchdown in nearly ten quarters.

Realistically or not, fan grumblings are commonplace in both Lexington and Athens. The Dawgs were the preseason favorites to win the SEC East with an outside shot at the national championship. Dawg legendary QB Fran Tarkenton has publically questioned the Georgia coaching staff, specifically defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.  National media are asking if the time has come for the highly respected Mark Richt to move on.

Kentucky’s seasonal goals seemed to have change weekly. In September, competing for the SEC East wasn’t unrealistic.  Now with four games remaining, the Cats are fighting for bowl eligibility and battling to bring a portion of the BBN back into fold.

Saturday can be best summarized as a game of questions. Which Georgia team shows up?  Will the Dawgs show fight? Which Kentucky team will take the field in Athens? Have the Dawgs cashed in their seasonal chips with little to play for? What is progress for Year 3 Mark Stoops? Is Mark Richt’s job realistically on the line?

Both are without their top running back. Heisman hopeful Nick Chubb was injured on October 10 in Knoxville. Boom Williams went down against the same Tennessee team in Lexington. Both head coaches have overhauled depth charts in hope of a final four-game spark. For a noon kickoff between 5-3 Georgia and 4-4 Kentucky, this game contains many juicy subplots.

Position Group Analysis

Quarterback: Unknown

— When given time to throw, Patrick Towles has shown flashes of grandeur. He’s also been errant and inconsistent with a 9-10 touchdown-interception ratio. Against Miss State and Tennessee, the game’s circumstance and opposing pass rush influenced production. Both games’ score turned lopsided in a hurry. Freshman Drew Barker saw action against Miss State, but was injured. His health and early game production may determine if he receives meaningful snaps in Athens.

— In its rival game against the Florida Gators, Mark Richt trotted out first-time starting quarterback Faton Bauta. The result was bad. Four interceptions later, UGA is yet to name a starter against UK. Most likely senior Greyson Lambert will get the call. The former Virginia Cavalier, Lambert had started seven games and much like the Georgia offense, his performance declined along with Chubb’s injury. For what it’s worth, last update on Bauta was he is now a scout team safety.

Running Back: Georgia

— In the month of September, Georgia averaged 257 yards rushing per game. In October, that number plummeted to 136. The loss of All-American and Heisman hopeful Nick Chubb rocked the Georgia football program. By all accounts, Chubb is a team leader and fantastic young man. Unfortunately, injuries happen. Former high school All-Americans Sony Michel and Keith Marshall have filled in, but with lesser success. Brendon Douglass has provided tough yardage, but Chubb’s absence started a downward spiral for this position and team. But beware, the Dawgs are still ultra-talented at running back. 

— Mikel Horton’s Tennessee game performance marked the first look of promise meeting production. Mikel was UK’s only offensive bright spot by rushing for over 100 yards and doing so in a physical manner. JoJo Kemp is at the ready, but expect to see more of true freshman Sihiem King, who has Boom like explosiveness.

Offensive Line: Georgia

— The fact the UGA gets the nod in this category speaks more to Kentucky offensive line woes than to Georgia’s success. No way around it: the Dawg OL has vastly underachieved. In the preseason, media and coaches pegged the group as the SEC’s and perhaps the nation’s best offensive line in college football. In the past three games, UGA’s rushing production has regressed from 165, 120, to 69 yards rushing. Depth chart changes have ensued. All-SEC guard Greg Pyke was relegated to second team. The only constant in this week’s lineup is center, Brandon Kublanow.

— Coach John Schlarman’s crew has to get right. However it does so is irrelevant. Ironically, the Wildcat straight line run blocking was effective against Tennessee. However, surrendering 22 QB sacks on the season is good for dead last in the SEC. UK has to find one offensive aspect it does well and continue to do so. Georgia’s athletic pass rushers are a major concerning going into Saturday.

Wide Receiver/Tight End: Kentucky

— This was a close comparison. For the last time, I’m giving UK receivers the benefit of the dropped passes doubt.  However, statistics back up this projection. Kentucky has two receivers (Baker and Johnson) in the SEC’s receptions per game category and Garrett Johnson is one place higher than UGA’s top receiver in receiving yards per game. Tight end CJ Conrad has to be targeted and thrown to at a much higher rate.

— Georgia is led by senior receiver Malcolm Mitchell. Mitchell is UGA’s sixth all-time receiver with 155 career grabs. He’s led or tied for the team’s receiving yards in seven of eight games this season. Mitchell is joined by Terry Goodwin, Reggie Davis, and tight end Jeb Blazevich. Blazevich and CJ Conrad are virtually the same player. Isaiah McKenzie has been hampered with a hamstring injury. If you remember, McKenzie torched the Cats in 2014 with a punt and kickoff return for touchdown.

Defensive Line: Georgia

— 2015 recruiting class’s No. 1 defensive tackle Trenton Thompson has quickly developed into a steady defender. Nose guard Chris Mayes, defensive end Sterling Bailey, and defensive tackle John Atkins join Thompson to form a formidable and disruptive defensive front.

— Kentucky is still trying to figure out life after Melvin Lewis. The senior’s absence has been felt on third downs and on the scoreboard. Nose tackle Matt Elam and Adrian Middleton are rotating to provide run/pass combination. Cory Johnson/Regie Meant and Farrington Huguennin have not generated a consistent or effective pass rush to alter opposing game plans.

Linebacker: Georgia

— The Dawg linebackers are pros backed up by pros. For example, SAM linebacker is manned by future NFLer Leonard Floyd. Behind him on the depth chart is another Sunday player, sophomore Lorenzo Carter. Jordan Jenkins, Jake Ganus, and Tim Kimbrough make up arguably the most talented linebacker corps in the SEC. If that skill has met production is questionable, but UGA is currently the SEC’s fifth rated overall defense. When watching the game, athletic ability of the UGA linebackers will be noticeable.

Secondary: Georgia

— Another position group with a fluid depth chart, Georgia doesn’t have individual players that are ranked high in SEC defensive statistics. Collectively, UGA is ranked 13th in interceptions, just one spot ahead of Kentucky. However, as a team it ranks second against the pass. A great deal of this can be attributed to the pass rush. Juwuan Briscoe and Malkom Parrish start at cornerback, with safeties Quincy Mauger and Dominick Sanders. All listed and their backups were highly recruited athletes that brought several stars to Athens.

— Mark Stoops has also shaken up his secondary depth chart. Kentucky will start two true freshmen on Saturday: cornerbacks Chris Westry and Derrick Baity. Redshirt freshman safety Mike Edwards has overtaken senior AJ Stamps in the lineup. Strong safety Marcus McWilson is now playing a hybrid linebacker position. I like the future of this group, but it will be tested.

Special Teams: Even

Kentucky has faced the SEC’s first, second, third and fifth ranked kickoff return teams. Going into Saturday, Georgia is 13th; UK is fourth. Dawgs and Cats both average 34 yards per punt. Concern here is returner Isaiah McKenzie’s return from injury. As stated earlier, Isaiah had himself a day last season against the Cats by returning both a kickoff and punt for touchdown.

What does all this mean?

Two teams with much to prove will square off on Saturday at noon. A plethora of factors indicate that Georgia is prime for the upset: Noon kickoff, losing three out of four and out of SEC East race, Mark Richt and staff scrutiny, questions at quarterback, and an offense that hasn’t scored a touchdown in ten quarters scream of a potential let down performance.  But, Kentucky is not the same team that enjoyed a promising September. It has also lost three of its last four with the past two being embarrassing routes. A player’s only meeting was conducted. IF Kentucky can somehow right the ship…….

Article written by Freddie Maggard

Former University of Kentucky Quarterback and Andy Griffith Fan Club President

46 Comments for Previewing the Cats and Dawgs



  1. RICK
    1:14 pm November 5, 2015 Permalink

    Will be watching , depending on the weather may be quail hunting and have to record and watch later if we some how get the win but have my doubts and a close game doesn’t help a bit. We need a win, the days of we almost beat Georgia is no good in my book.



    • BluKudzu
      5:40 pm November 5, 2015 Permalink

      Not a troll or fair weather fan, so shove that stuff.

      Realistically, as I have said since the beginning of the year, we do not have a defense that is built to stop any team we play. We must have a couple of big plays/breaks/opposing team mistakes for us to have a chance to win. We must have at least five scores (30-35 points) every game to be competitive. That is only if we have no screw ups on Special teams, and our offense does not turn the ball over or offer up pick 6s
      .
      After the EKU game, I thought we had won our last game, with a shot at Charlotte as a maybe? Since the UT/UGA game, a lot has happened, that has my upset radar going off (well not off, just a faint blip on the screen real far out).
      We will need to play a near perfect game. Georgia will score on us, but if I were a betting man, I would definitely put this week’s bourbon money with the Cats and take the points. I think we will be better against Georgia because of their dumpster fire they have going on, and with a couple of breaks going our way, it could be a win. I was there the last time we won in Athens and it was strange. Nobody that was a Cat fan knew how to act. UK has only beat UGA in Athens 4 times. I am hoping for a 5th, (with my bourbon money). I will be there.
      Go Cats.



  2. yodelaheyoo
    1:17 pm November 5, 2015 Permalink

    Georgia is team turmoil. Fortunately for them, a time-tested, proven cure is playing us in football.



    • Hermes
      7:41 am November 6, 2015 Permalink

      Unfortunately, this is exactly, painfully right.



  3. Mr. Gigglepants
    1:23 pm November 5, 2015 Permalink

    I like Freddie. But football is over this year. We have too many posts about it. Time to move on. This bunch ain’t got it.



    • Kim Davis
      1:42 pm November 5, 2015 Permalink

      Newsflash: football is not over for the year. You see, there are still 4 games remaining on the schedule, plus the bowl game.



    • ClutchCargo
      1:47 pm November 5, 2015 Permalink

      And yet, you took the time to comment on a sport that is “over.” I don’t like the turn this season has taken, but there is still a lot to play for at this point if we can get our crap together. I’m not jumping ship.



    • Mr. Gigglepants
      3:21 pm November 5, 2015 Permalink

      Some only see what they want to see. I’ll spin it like this so you can understand: it’s like in a bad marriage. One of you is done the other isn’t. You might still be married, but it’s over. Divorce is inevitable. Even though we still have a few games to play, it’s over this season. Let’s come back to this when we miss another bowl and fully regress.



    • Kim Davis
      3:24 pm November 5, 2015 Permalink

      ^ Bye, Felicia!!



    • Mr. Gigglepants
      3:28 pm November 5, 2015 Permalink

      Felicia who? Retard…I stand by what I said. We will at best beat Charlotte. And no bowl. Mark it down.



    • madarchitect
      5:17 pm November 5, 2015 Permalink

      ^^^Yup. BYE FELICIA!!!!



  4. lolololol
    1:28 pm November 5, 2015 Permalink

    lol nope



    • LOL what?
      1:43 pm November 5, 2015 Permalink

      Nope what?



    • LOL what?
      1:44 pm November 5, 2015 Permalink

      You can’t read or something?



  5. fatbrat
    1:45 pm November 5, 2015 Permalink

    If Horton can establish a running game, UGA may have to fill the box, which may open it up for Towles. I was wondering…how many total punt return yards do we have this season? I just can’t see their special teams being as bad as ours.



    • CatsBy80
      1:53 pm November 5, 2015 Permalink

      6 punt returns for 52 yards… pretty awful.



  6. Bull
    2:06 pm November 5, 2015 Permalink

    Maybe we can grow-up some this week and get a little closer to becoming a solid SEC team. Every school in the league has ups & downs. Yes we have ways to go but I think coach Stoops is the type of man that’s strong enough to stay the course and do what’s necessary to build a team. Keep getting bigger and stronger players, and never let them see you sweat. GO CATS. Have a nice day!



    • Flipper
      2:41 pm November 5, 2015 Permalink

      Yes, he’s certainly the type of man that will suck a 3.5 million dollar salary for coaching a joke of a football team. What a man!



    • Well...
      3:02 pm November 5, 2015 Permalink

      Look on the bright side – we could have hired the joke that is Bobby Petrino!! LOLOLOLOL!!!



  7. Zig Zieglar ain't Walkin' in that door
    2:21 pm November 5, 2015 Permalink

    Stoops has lost this team. They’ve had two “players only” meetings in the last two weeks. That tells me they aren’t looking to the coaches for answers anymore.



  8. Kindergarten Cop
    2:24 pm November 5, 2015 Permalink

    Can anyone remember a time when we won 2 games and were jealous of teams who made a bowl? Now we are mad because we might have to go to Memphis or Birmingham. Come on fare weather fans I think we should be happy that Mark Stoops has this team in the right direction. I am by no means happy that we got our tail kicked twice but I don’t believe the wheels have fallen off. I think we are in the SEC. This is part of being in the best conference in football. Lets stay with this team.



    • Bryan
      2:28 pm November 5, 2015 Permalink

      Just trolls. They lurk in the dark corners waiting, and then come out to post negative shit. Its a sign of something obviously lacking in their lives.

      Sad really. I hope they get help.

      http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

      1 (800) 273-8255



    • Yes, I can
      2:34 pm November 5, 2015 Permalink

      I can remember a time when we won 5 of our first six, then went 0-6 the rest of the season.
      I can remember plenty of times when the season seemed to start ok, the fans got excited, then the wheels did indeed fall off. And they usually started falling off about the time we got blown out by a conference opponent. The only time I can remember that not happening was the Rich Brooks team that got blown out by LSU, then got mad and finished the season strong.
      This team got b*tch slapped by MSU then came back and absolutely rolled over for Tennessee. They have exhibited no heart whatsoever. They’ve quit listening to the coaches. They’re done.
      I hope I’m wrong, but I haven’t seen anything at all this season to make me think I’m not.



    • Captain Obvious
      2:52 pm November 5, 2015 Permalink

      Yeah, those last 6 games of the schedule last year were a bunch of cupcakes, too. Like AT LSU (who was 62-8 at home under Les Miles, in the SEC West), #1 Miss. St. with a Heisman candidate QB, Mizzou (back-to-back East champ), #17 Georgia (who ended up destroying Louisville 37-14), UT, and at Louisville, but only by 4. In Stoops second year.

      I remember the years we started well, too and the wheels fell off. And then we fired Joker. Unfortunately, we still had a roster full of his players….

      And yeah, that Brooks did team finish strong, beating a 3-9 Mississippi State, Georgia at CWS, Vanderbilt at CWS, and Louisiana-Monroe, by 2, at CWS….

      You forgot they got b*tch slapped by Louisville in the opener, too, by a score of 59-28. But that’s okay, right? I mean, it was only Brooks’ 4th year (the previous year he went 3-9…)

      Anyway, I hope you come back and join us once they become successful. 😉



    • CardFan502
      3:27 pm November 5, 2015 Permalink

      I wish we could beat their JV teams, but sadly we suck too. At least we can troll on UK fans since we don’t have anything to talk about over on the Chronicle. I mean our football team blows, and our basketball team is getting blown by hookers. Could UofL be more of a steaming pile of $hit than we are right now? So frustrating. We were on top of the sports world just a couple of years ago, and now we’re the laughing stock. It hurts. It hurts bad. Almost as much as it hurts when I pee.



  9. Dano
    2:39 pm November 5, 2015 Permalink

    This year, I am happy to go bowling. As the program builds, the expectation will be greater. I was one of the fans that blasted Brooks right after we were blown out by LSU. We went on to beat Clemson in a bowl. The next season we upset future national champion (LSU) at home.

    Unfortunately, I agree with Freddie’s assessment that UG is better at the O and D line positions, and that’s where the games are won and lost. This will be a tough game to win as our O line cannot block and our QB seems to have a difficult time reading defense.

    Maybe Dumbledore will give Patrick and the receivers a vision of the future so they can get on the same page and catch the ball.



  10. flip side
    2:40 pm November 5, 2015 Permalink

    Can anyone remember a time when a program with any semblance of pride or tradition was happy just to win 6 games and go to a “Participation Trophy” bowl? This team and program is NOT trending in the right direction. It is flat lining. I totally disagree with this being part of being in the best conference in football. To me, being in the SEC should instill pride, effort and competence that PREVENT not only being beaten the last 2 weeks, but annihilated. Embarassed. Slaughtered. No part of that is representative of an SEC team. None of it.



    • Hey
      2:53 pm November 5, 2015 Permalink

      We can’t all play in the AAC or ACC or whatever…



    • Trollin
      3:08 pm November 5, 2015 Permalink

      Other than the national championship, they’re all participation trophy bowls. So yes, yes I can remember a time when a program with pride and tradition was happy to win 6 games to go to a bowl.



    • Kindergarten
      3:24 pm November 5, 2015 Permalink

      Well go watch Basketball….. Don’t come back when they go to the bowl because its just a participation. We will enjoy the season without you. Using your logic the basketball team last year just participated. They didn’t make the championship.



  11. Bourbon Breath
    2:48 pm November 5, 2015 Permalink

    UK 29

    Kentucky State 189



    • Derp
      2:53 pm November 5, 2015 Permalink

      Fouls?



    • Pitino's Gonorreah
      3:10 pm November 5, 2015 Permalink

      UK 150
      Louisville 24
      L1C8
      keep trolling w my old name, loser #L1C4nicate



  12. asdf
    3:10 pm November 5, 2015 Permalink

    The Cats have a real chance, mainly because of Georgia’s issues. Obviously Georgia has the advantage if they were playing under perfect conditions, but who knows where their heads are? If the Dawgs give a half-assed effort, the Cats can win. That would also cost Richt his job by Monday noon. If the players have given up on him as a coach, they may be ready for that change.