If you’re expecting a literary play off the famous Christmas story, I’m sorry. Just thought the title was catchy.
For Kentucky to Win…
— Let the moment be “The Moment”, then settle into execution. This is accomplished through effective game week or practice preparation. Screaming, tunnel exits, and hype videos last one series. Then the game comes down to Jimmies and Joes and execution. Kentucky cannot downplay game’s significance nor allow it to be too big which can lessen attention to game plan detail.
— Kentucky’s rushing attack must exceed the 3.3 yards per carry that the Louisville defense has averaged over the course of the season. By doing so, the magic number is 225 yards on the ground. In every Governor’s Cup other than last year, the team with the most rushing yards wins the game. Tomorrow will return to that norm.
— Has to decrease Louisville’s average completion from 13.6 to under 10 yards. Cardinal receivers excel in yards after catch. The youthful Wildcat secondary will have to keep Card receivers in front of them, then make sure tackles.
— Must exceed the Cardinals average of surrendering 35% 3rd down conversions. Again, Shannon Dawson has to dial up plays that produce positive first down yardage. 2nd and 10’s will not be UK’s friend tomorrow.
— Slow U of L’s front seven including elite edge pass rushers. For the year, the Louisville defense has produced 30 QB sacks and 80 TFL’s. A balanced offensive attack can help. Run/pass ratio will be telling. Louisville’s strength is its defensive big play capability. By somehow keeping defenders on their heels will assist in this factor.
— Offensively, UK has to take the game away from Louisville’s front seven’s influence and stress its back four. Unlike years past, its secondary is vulnerable. Constant pressure through rushes that break the line of scrimmage and completing a high percentage of passes will be critical for the Governor’s Cup Trophy to reside in Lexington.
— Stay out of certain passing situations. This is accomplished by positive first down yardage. Yes, this is a recurrent theme.
— Contain Lamar Jackson. By forcing Jackson to go through passing progression, edge rushers must remain disciplined in gap and lane responsibility. Will UK play a spy when Jackson is in the game? Not sure, but the freshman is extremely dangerous once he decides to run the football.
— If Kyle Bolin is the quarterback, UK safeties must remain cognizant of his middle of the field passing preference. Bolin’s tendencies are seam or vertical routes between the hashes.
— Just like basketball, Kentucky has to slow Louisville’s scoring runs. The Cards have scored in bunches or slugged through sixty minutes. The latter is the preference.
— Win the turnover margin. Through 11 games, UK is 11th in the SEC in turnover margin. For one November Saturday, it has no other option than to win this category.
— Have no special team’s blunders. Cats don’t have to win the game in the third phase. But, it cannot afford to lose the game in the kicking game.
— Let Drew be Drew. Play through mistakes and build confidence by completing high percentage completions. Consistent pass catchers also factors into this equation. Drops must stop. Barker appears to be a competitor, his pregame demeanor will be under the microscope by teammates as well as the opposing team.
— Manage the elements. Going to rain. In sloppy conditions, the team with the best offensive line play and ball security wins. Both UK and U of L have struggled up front. The team that gets the most production from its front five will win.
There you have it. Enjoy the calm before the storm, both figuratively and literally.