Elijah McGuire vs. Josh Forrest
UK’s best defender will be the most responsible for containing Louisiana’s offensive force. McGuire will not be stopped, the NFL talent can only be contained. UK’s most irreplaceable player will prove whether or not he truly has improved his physicality in run defense in Game 1. As Freddie Maggard eloquently stated in the KSR podcast, “You’re going to hear pads popping all the way to Nicholasville.”
Young Outside Linebackers vs. a Running QB
If there’s one thing that’s consistently given UK fans headaches over the years, it’s a running quarterback. Mark Stoops’ defenses have done a much better job, but those defenses also had Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith. Jabari Johnson is a Senior, but has never been relied upon as a starter. Denzil Ware will be taking his first snaps, with Josh Allen and other newcomers likely seeing action.
Louisiana won’t announce their starter until game time, but it will likely be Brooks Haack. Haack is the only one with consistent game reps, and has proved to be afleet on his feet. The Cats might be able to slow down McGuire, but it will be even tougher to contain two speedsters in the backfield.
Patrick Towles vs. an Inexperienced Secondary
Louisiana lost a lot on their defense after last season. Their front seven should be solid after adding transfers, but their secondary is questionable. They will be even more vulnerable without their best cornerback, Simeon Thomas, who will miss “due to eligibility concerns.” Patrick Towles could potentially have a field day, especially if the Cats come out of the gate quickly.