On The Mark: Keys To A Kentucky Upset
09/12/2013 08:49 AM
Since the series between UK and UofL was renewed in 1994, the Cards have held an 11-8 advantage over the Cats. This season marks the 20th meeting of the new era, and Stoops looks as though he’s going to have his hands full when Saturday’s game kicks off at noon in Lexington.
Now, Kentucky seems to have righted the ship with last week’s win against Miami (Ohio). The dual quarterback system looked as if it energized the stagnant offense, and the defense appeared to have awaken from their Week-1 slumber against Western Kentucky…
But is that enough?
Louisville brings to Commonwealth Stadium a Top-10 team and Heisman-hopeful quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater. The opening line for the game had Louisville favored by seven points but has since been bet up to as much as thirteen points. There’s not a lot of faith in the sports world in a Kentucky victory. So what do the Cats need to do to protect their house and come out with a victory this weekend?
Here’s my Top-3 keys to success – Governor’s Cup style:
1. Score First – Kentucky needs to get Commonwealth rocking! A stop and a touchdown or just a touchdown on the opening drive would certainly stun the Cardinals a little bit. It would put even more pressure on them because they’re the outright favorite coming in. I think, if the Cats can sustain a solid drive and finish with six, it shows Kentucky is ready to play and is not intimidated. Let’s be honest, Kentucky has a roster full of question marks, but who’s to say we’ve seen their full potential? Maybe the difference between a loss against Western and a win against Louisville is some confidence and a few changes by Stoops and Co? That’s what Kentucky wants in the back of Louisville’s mind early on.
2. No Big Plays – If Louisville is going to score, make it tough on them. Get some big hits on Teddy Bridgewater early. Make him feel the pressure every time he throws. The Cats cannot give up big, easy plays downfield and expect to win. A big play quiets the crowd and gives guys like Bridgewater confidence. It can’t happen. Also, UK cannot make mistakes (fumbles, ints, etc.) that turn into easy points. Kentucky isn’t strong enough on either side of the ball to overcome them.
3. Keep The Playmakers On The Field – Injuries need to favor Kentucky on both sides of the ball. There should be no surprise in that. Kentucky doesn’t have an excess of playmakers so keeping them on the field and healthy is vital. We saw what happened to the defense when bodies were trotting to and from the locker room during the game against Western Kentucky. Too many guys were fighting harder against their injuries and poor conditioning than they were against the Hilltoppers.
And there you have it! Those are my keys to the game for the Cats. As always, it’s going to be a big game with lots of emotion. If Kentucky can keep this game close until halftime, they have a chance. Remember when Stevie got loose? On the field, especially on the home field, a lot can happen within striking distance late in the game.