Kentucky will look at Mississippi State in the Commonwealth Stadium this Saturday and should hope to see a closer contest than they got last week against South Carolina while certainly a tough team Mississippi State is not as talented of a squad as the gamecocks were and as a result Kentucky can afford to make more mistakes. With so many story lines, this game should be an interesting one for Kentucky fans.
What you really need to know about Mississippi State:
The Bulldogs are a defensive minded team that plays a bend but don’t break scheme. Opponents are averaging 137 rushing yards and 214 passing yards per game, so the defense is susceptible. The concern for the Kentucky offense comes from the defense’s ability to be aggressive. The Bulldogs have picked off nine passes, have recovered six fumbles, and gotten to the quarterback five times in the first four contests of the season. Offensively, Mississippi State comes at you with a balanced attack. The Bulldogs are averaging 136 yards per game rushing and 215 yards per game passing, while putting up 36 points per contest. One factor that makes the Bulldogs extremely tough, is that they do not turn the ball over. The offense has thrown just one pick and lost one fumble so far this year.
The players you really need to know for Mississippi State:
#13 – Jonathan Banks – DB
Banks is a playmaker plain and simple. In the first four games he’s picked off three passes for 78 yards and has been a mainstay in the Mississippi State defense for several years. He’s equally capable of coming up to stop the run and dropping back to defend against the pass.
#1 – Chad Bumphis – WR
Bumphis has been one of the top receivers in the SEC since he arrived on campus. This season, he is averaging a whopping 22.6 yards per catch and has five touchdowns on the season.
#91 – Preston Smith – DL
Smith is a very good pass rusher who uses a quick initial burst to beat the offensive line. So far this year, he leads the team with two sacks and has 6 tackles to go along as well.
#27 – LaDarius Perkins – RB
Perkins is averaging 6.8 yards per carry as a junior, and has scored five times so far this season. As the teams workhorse back, Perkins is averaging 97.2 yards per game.
Top three matchups to watch:
UK’s Jalen Whitlow/Patric Towles vs. MSU’s Darius Slay
Whitlow have his hands full looking off Darius slay this week. He’s not easily fooled, and has amassed four interceptions one fumble recovery and a blocked kick this season. Slate is a playmaker. Whoever is playing quarterback for the Wildcats will have to know where he is at all times.
UK’s Jonathan George vs. MSU’s Cam Lawrence
Lawrence is a 6’3″ 230 pound linebacker that can run with the best of them. George will have to make sure that he’s accounted for on blitzes, and try to lose him on passing place. Lawrence can stop the run and drop into pass coverage, which makes him a very tough linebacker. George will either have to run around or through him to pick up the yards needed to keep Kentucky’s offense moving.
UK’s Martavius Neloms vs. MSU’s Marcus Green
Standing it only 6’1 and 240 pounds, Marcus Green is not your prototypical tight end. While he may more closely resemble fullback, green is a proven touchdown machine and has taken three of his six receptions in for touchdowns. With his move back to Safety, Neloms will need to stop Green from scoring at all costs.
Key for a Kentucky win:
I hate to beat a dead horse here, but it’s to ably going to e turnovers and rushing yards. Before two second half picks, Kentucky was playing right alongside South Carolina. Afterwards, everything fell apart. What to freshmen quarterbacks, Kentucky will need the running game to be strong to keep them from entering the ball out too much and making themselves susceptible to turnovers.
Top newcomers to watch:
#6 – A.J. LeGree – WR
Overlooked in the loss, LeGree had a fantastic game with some really good catches, specifically for freshman. He’s one of the top young talent on the team.
#14 – Patrick Towles – QB
Circumstances have forced the coaching staffs hand, and Patrick will play as a true freshman. He is probably better suited for Kentucky’s current offense than Whitlow is and will get a chance to show everyone why he was so highly regarded as a prep player.
#91 – Farrington Huguenin – DE
Russell, Mississippi State’s quarterback, is not that mobile of a guy and has only rushed for 33 yards on 10 attempts this season. Huguenin has one of the best combinations of size and athleticism along Kentucky’s defensive line, and could have a chance to get to the quarterback as the game progresses.
Kentucky 24 – Mississippi State 20