Wide Receiver Daryl Collins vs. Cornerback Sidney Saulter
Collins earned a starting job after catching 7 passes for 64 yards vs. the Cardinals last week, and will look to build off that against Kent State. He’ll likely be the #3 WR on Saturday, meaning he’ll be matched-up with Saulter, the Flasher’s nickle-corner for much of the night. Collins was the Cats’ best receiving threat, and if he can get open over the middle and force Kent’s linebackers to play further back to help Saulter in coverage, it can also open up the UK running game that will be without starter Coshik Williams.
Kentucky’s Offensive line vs. Defensive-Tackle Roosevelt Nix
Nix, the 2010 MAC Defensive Player of the Year made eight tackles, including 4 TFLs and a sack last week vs. Towson, and is considered a legitimate NFL draft prospect. He can play all four spots on the defensive line, and every UK lineman should get a piece of him at some point Saturday night. The question will be whether the Cats can keep him from getting a piece of QB Max Smith or UK’s runningbacks in the backfield.
Runningback Trayion Durham vs. Hybrid Safety/linebacker Miles Simpson
Durham will lead Kent State’s rushing attack. He carried the ball 187 times for 630 yards and four touchdowns as a junior last year, and in Kent’s opener against Towson, he carried the ball 20 times for 54 rushing yards.
Simpson is on the hot seat after last week’s dismal performance. He also was a liability on defense in both coverage and with his tackling ability. The hybrid safety/linebacker spot is probably the second-most important spot on Rick Minter’s defense next to the middle linebacker, and if he struggles against Kent State this week, expect to see him benched early in favor of JUCO safety Kory Brown.