What to Expect For UK vs Vandy
Weeks like this in #BBN aren’t for the faint of heart. After posting 302 yards on the ground, controlling possession for 42 minutes, only having one 3 and out, and only giving up 17 points, Kentucky found a way to lose to Tennessee. It was a painful loss for our fans who stood in the cold with Knoxville’s finest (*worst) on Saturday.
Skipping over that disappointment, it is important that our Cats not take their eye off of the Vanderbilt game. Vanderbilt is coming off of a 56-0 loss to Florida in a game where Vandy’s third string QB couldn’t figure out how to get the ball moving. Kentucky will not be facing him though. In his press conference yesterday, Derrick Mason said Riley Neal was cleared from concussion protocol and is expected to suit up for against Kentucky on Saturday.
Mason also talked at length about Kentucky’s run attack. He spoke about Lynn Bowden’s speed and elusiveness and also about the triple threat of Kavosiey Smoke, A.J. Rose, and Chris Rodriguez. It seemed very clear that Vandy’s prep for UK will consist almost entirely of defending the run, and not falling for fake hand-offs and mis-directions. Even if prepared for what’s coming, it is unlikely that Vanderbilt will have the strength up front to hit our guys at the line of scrimmage, and Kentucky should still have plenty of opportunity for chunk plays on the ground. What most of big blue nation is wondering, is Sawyer Smith going to get some snaps of any significance? While it might be possible to beat Vanderbilt and UT-Martin with the same kind of ground attack we threw at the Volunteers and Missouri, it is doubtful that we can win against Louisville at the end of the season unless we send a message that we are capable of opening up a passing game as well. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Smith come in and throw 5 or more passes during the Vandy game, but given Mark Stoops apparent disliking for change, it wouldn’t be surprising to see all Lynn Bowden again either.
In comparison to other SEC opponents, Vanderbilt doesn’t have a lot of electric athletes on offense who light up the scoreboard, but they’ll be led by running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn who has 6 touchdowns this season and the ability to break off occasional big runs. Riley Neal hasn’t been a rushing threat from the QB position for Vanderbilt this season, but in his career at Ball State he posted pretty decent numbers on the ground. What better game than the Kentucky game to show the SEC his running prowess?
Without a doubt, Kentucky is a far better football team than Vanderbilt. As we know too well, just being better doesn’t necessarily guarantee a win. Kentucky will need to dominate the line on both sides, defend underneath passes better, and open up their offense a tad to be able to beat the Commodores like we think they should. I am going with a Kentucky win 31 – 14.