Football is the ultimate team sport. However, it’s easy for one-on-one matchups to go unnoticed with 22 players simultaneously on the field. Mark Stoops has often mentioned the critical nature of his players winning one-on-one competitions regardless of position. We’ll be discussing three of such matchups over the next couple of days. First up features a vital, interior line-of-scrimmage clash:
UK Nose tackle Matt Elam vs. USM Center Cameron Tom
Overview-Senior Cameron Tom hails from Baton Rouge, Louisiana’s Catholic High School where he was a 2-star prospect with offers from Tulane, Arkansas State, and Louisiana Tech. He’s flourished at Southern Miss both as a football player and student. Tom is the anchor of an offensive line that racked up over 7,000 total yards a year ago.
Tale of the Tape-6’4, 287-pounds
Accolades-2015 1st Team All-Conference USA, 2016 preseason All-Conference USA, Rimington Trophy Watch List, Outland Trophy Watch List, Reece’s Senior Bowl Watch List, honor roll student.
Overview-Matt Elam was a national level recruit coming out of John Hardin High School. Ranging anywhere from a 3 to 5-star prospect; Elam chose UK over Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Tennessee, and a host of others. He was named to the USA Today All American team as well as being selected for the US Army All American Bowl. His signature with the Cats was considered one of the most crucial recruiting wins in history of modern-day Kentucky Football.
Elam’s time in Lexington has to categorized as inconsistent. He’s struggled with weight and conditioning problems. Elam has lost the necessary weight that has hindered production in his first two seasons.
Tale of the Tape-6’7, 360-pounds
Accolades-None as of yet. Has totaled 33 tackles and 4 starts over the span of 2 seasons.
What does all this mean?
The 2015 version of Matt Elam would not have fared well against the seasoned veteran Cameron Tom. Tom is a proven technician. Elam is loaded with potential but is projective in actuality. What will the 2016 Matt Elam look and play like? We’ll see on Saturday. He’ll have his hands full based on past performance.
The importance of this one-on-one scenario is enormous. Kentucky will need to slow RB Ito Smith. A large portion of Kentucky’s defensive success will be centered on the Elam-v-Tom matchup. Elam will also be called upon to provide an interior pass rush to prevent QB Nick Mullens from stepping up in the pocket in order to avoid perimeter pressure.
Who wins the matchup? To be determined.
Keep an eye on this matchup as you watch the game from the stands or at home. To the victor could go the spoils on the scoreboard.