Ke’Shawn Vaughn is public enemy No. 1.
This Saturday afternoon in Nashville, Kentucky’s defense will be tasked to stop one of the SEC’s most explosive running backs.
“He can take it to the house at any moment. He’s a big play waiting to happen. He’s done it against a lot of good opponents in the SEC,” said defensive coordinator Brad White.
“He runs hard, he’s got the speed. You don’t think of guys that are that big — 205, 210 — that can bounce and get the edge like he can. He can really accelerate once he gets there. He’s compact, he’s hard to tackle between his knee and his waist. You see a lot of guys bounce off so we’ve got to do a great job gang tackling, make sure we’re thick in our tackles and running our feet.”
On pace to rush for over 1,000 yards for the second consecutive season, the transfer from Illinois has five runs for over 30 yards, tied for the fourth-most in the SEC.
“We have to be physical at the point of attack,” said defensive back Jordan Griffin. “It’s the SEC so each and every week you gotta come ready to play and that’s one thing we’re going to come and be ready to do.”
Not only is he explosive, Vaughn is a big dude.
“He’s a bowling ball. Hew’s got really powerful legs, runs really hard, low to the ground. When he makes contact, he runs through contact. We gotta drive our feet and not arm tackle because he’ll run right through those,” said Kash Daniel.
“He’s a strong back. He just knows how to get to the end zone,” added DeAndre Square. “We’re keying in on him. He’s a great running back. He’s a powerful dude, he’s elusive, so we just gotta stay on our keys and play great.”
Averaging just shy of five yards per carry, Vaughn has accounted for 40 percent of Vanderbilt’s offensive production in 2019. If Kentucky can contain Vaughn, it will limit the Commodores’ ability to make explosive plays. An offense that has put up historically bad numbers, Kentucky’s defense does not care. To get their first win of the season, Kentucky must be ready to play as soon as the ball is snapped.
“If you’re overlooking an SEC opponent, you’re in trouble,” White said. “Anybody can beat anybody. These games with Vandy have always been hard-fought games. We know when we go down there they’re ready, they’re going to be geared up. They’ve got really talented players on offense. We’ve got our hands full with the running back. It looks like Riley (Neal) will be back, 16 (Kalija Lipscomb) is a really good player at wide out, 80 (Jared Pinkney) at tight end. They’ve got plenty of weapons to put points on the board.”