Lexington, KY (SportsNetwork.com) – The Kentucky Wildcats will play their
final home game of the season on Saturday afternoon when they welcome the
17th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs to Commonwealth Stadium for an SEC clash.
Heading into last week’s matchup with Florida, Georgia had won five straight
games and had its sights set on an SEC Eastern Division crown, but it fell
flat in the crucial matchup and suffered a 38-20 setback.
“We started out playing pretty good football,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said.
“But as the game went on, I don’t think we lost effort, but we definitely lost
execution. I think both teams played hard but (Florida) executed better than
The Bulldogs are now 6-2 overall, and at 4-2 in league play are looking up at
Missouri (4-1) in the conference standings.
“All I know is we’ve got to get ready,” Richt continued. “Nobody in this
league feels sorry for the other team, I can tell you that. Kentucky is going
to be excited about getting us in their house and continuing to play the kind
of ball they’ve been playing.”
Kentucky started the season on a very promising note with victories in five of
its first six games, a win total greater than its 2012 and 2013 campaigns
combined. Since then however, the Wildcats have dropped three straight to fall
to 2-4 in the SEC, most recently losing at Missouri, 20-10.
“The wheels aren’t falling off. We barely had them on,” Kentucky coach Mark
Stoops said. “Anybody that didn’t understand that is sadly mistaken, including
our players. We’ve got to scratch and claw and fight and dig down for
everything that we get. To think that you’re going to go out there and hope
that (wins) happen, we’re mistaken.”
Georgia has a firm handle on the all-time series with Kentucky, 53-12-2. Its
59-17 rout last November was its fourth straight win over the Wildcats.
The Bulldogs’ offense this season has been outstanding, as they put up 40.5
ppg and 440.0 ypg. Usually the unit skews towards a run-heavy approach (250.2
ypg), but in a comeback effort last week it had just 141 rushing yards to 319
Todd Gurley (773 yards, eight TDs) has missed the last three games while
serving a suspension and will be eligible to return on Nov. 15. Luckily for
the Bulldogs Nick Chubb has been great in Gurley’s absence, picking up 725
yards and six touchdowns on 120 carries.
Hutson Mason finished with a career high in completions (26), attempts (41)
and yards (319) last week, but the team is at its best when he’s not asked to
shoulder the load. On the season he’s completing just shy of 68 percent of his
throws and has tossed only three picks, but he has just 1,341 yards and 11
The modest receiving corps is led by Michael Bennett (28 receptions, 291
yards, four TDs) and Chris Conley (22 receptions, 385 yards, three TDs).
Defensively, Georgia has impressed for the most part in allowing 22.2 ppg and
336.1 ypg, while forcing 18 turnovers, but it had no answer for Florida’s
rushing attack the last time out, giving up over 400 yards on the ground.
The strength of the unit comes at linebacker, with Amarlo Herrera (68 tackles,
7.5 TFL, 3.0 sacks), Ramik Wilson (60 tackles, 5.5 TFL, sack), Jordan Jenkins
(46 tackles, 7.0 TFL, 3.5 sacks) and Leonard Floyd (43 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 5.0
sacks) all in the midst of strong campaigns. Damian Swann and Quincy Mauger
have three interceptions apiece.
While Kentucky’s offense is much improved from years past (29.2 ppg, 407.8
ypg), the unit has struggled of late in scoring 10 points or less in two of
its last three, and last week it amassed only 258 yards.
Patrick Towles brings stability to the quarterback position. He’s completing
less than 60 percent of his passes, but he throws for nearly 250 yards per
game with 17 touchdowns (four rushing) to just five interceptions.
Ryan Timmons is Towles’ most trusted target with 40 receptions for 493 yards
and two touchdowns. Demarco Robinson (25 receptions, 395 yards, TD) and Javess
Blue (18 receptions, 346 yards, four TDs) have been effective deep threats.
The Wildcats employ a stable of rushers, with five players piling up at least
200 yards and two touchdowns but no one producing more than Jojo Kemp’s 313
yards and four scores.
Against some stiff competition this season, Kentucky’s defense has performed
well in yielding 24.2 ppg and 371.2 ypg. The unit kept last week’s game close
by holding Missouri to just 20 points and 320 yards.
The defense has picked off 13 passes, with Marcus McWilson and A.J. Stamps
registering three interceptions each. Josh Forrest is not only the team’s top
tackler (75) but he’s tallied 7.0 TFL, two interceptions, a sack and a forced
fumble as well. Alvin Dupree is a mainstay on the defensive line with 8.5 TFL
and 5.5 sacks.