Thursday, November 6, 2008

Georgia vs. Kentucky Preview: Righting the Ship

This how we all feel after last week’s debacle in Jacksonville:

I sympathize with the guy who gets punched and then later strangled. Reminds me of Alabama and then Florida. Notice that Andy Samberg’s shirt is blue with orange lettering.

Now is the time for the Dawgs to put last week behind them and focus on closing out what can still be a very good season. The road ahead begins Saturday in Lexington. Here’s a preview of what we’ll see.

Kentucky Wildcats – Who are these guys?
Thanks to an out of conference schedule filled with cupcakes (Norfolk State, Middle Tennessee State, Western Kentucky) and conference wins over Arkansas and Mississippi State, Kentucky is already bowl eligible for the third straight year. At 6-3, an upset over Georgia could propel Kentucky to a bowl game outside of Shreveport or Nashville.

Last time Kentucky went a bowl outside of Nashville it was the Outback Bowl in 1998. The ‘Cats proceeded to drop that game to Penn State, 26-14.

Kentucky on Offense
Kentucky has been a team plagued by inexperience and injuries during the 2008 campaign. After All-SEC quarterback Andre Woodson moved on to the NFL and Chris Pulley was kicked off the team (he now plays at Florida A&M), Coach Brooks has yet to settle on one quarterback as the new leader of the team. Randall Cobb, a converted wide receiver, and Mike Hartline have split time under center for the Cats this year. According to coach Brooks, we will continue to see a QB rotation for the remainder of the season. Kentucky lost its senior leader on offense when receiver Dicky Lyons, Jr. went down earlier this year with a leg injury. If you have never read the comments Lyons made about having dreams with Matt Stafford in them during SEC media days, check out the story here. The only other threat Kentucky had in the passing game was sophomore running back Derrick Locke. Unfortunately for Kentucky, he also suffered a season ending injury. Locke was not only the Cats' second leading receiver but also their leading rusher. With little experience, don't expect an explosive offensive performance from Kentucky on Saturday.

Kentucky on Defense
The strength of the Kentucky team resides on the defensive side of the ball. With the exception of the blowout loss to Florida, the Kentucky defense has not allowed another opponent to score more than 20 points. This includes holding Louisville scoreless (the Cardinals’ only score came on a safety). Linebackers Braxton Kelly and Micah Johnson lead the team in tackles with 31 each. Kentucky is also solid in the defensive secondary, where Marcus McClinton and Trevard Lindley both have 4 interceptions a piece. The defense only gives up about 300 yards of total offense per game and should be quite a challenge for Stafford and the Bulldog offense (which averages about 420 yards per game).

What Will the Dawgs do?
Coaches Mark Richt and Mike Bob have taken a lot of criticism this week for the failures of Georgia’s offense to put up points in the red zone. There has also been criticism surrounding Knowshon Moreno’s absence from the huddle on several plays throughout the past few games. Look for the Dawgs to try and silence some of the doubters this week. Matt Stafford will play a controlled game and should put up decent numbers, but the tandem of Moreno and Caleb King will get a lot of carries. Look for Georgia to once again control the clock as they did in the Tennessee, South Carolina, and Arizona State games.

Knowshon had 124 yardsand 1 touchdown against Kentucky last year. Look for more of the same on Saturday.

On defense, Georgia will need to find a way get some turnovers. Kentucky’s line does not allow many sacks, so the Dawgs are going to need to at least put enough pressure on the inexperienced Wildcat QBs to force some bad throws into coverage. I also look for Georgia to make a big play on special teams. Georgia blocked a punt in the game in Athens last year and Kentucky exposed an inability to provide good protection for its kickers during the Florida game (UF blocked two punts and a field goal on its way to 63-5 destruction of the Cats).

Believe it or not, I actually think the Dawgs will come out on fire in the first quarter. The loss to Florida hurts and this young team will be hungry to make a statement. Knowshon should go for at least 125 with two or three scores. On defense, look for the secondary to step up and make plays and help fix Georgia’s current turnover deficit (-1).

Georgia 38, Kentucky 17


1 comment:

Mackalicious said...

Jovi punch, full recovery ftw.

I'm ready to really take out some aggression on someone and I'm hoping Rich Brook's team is the one.