It’s Homecoming at the University of Kentucky and your Wildcats are getting set to take on the Alabama State Hornets at 7:30. It’s a chance to get a victory after five straight losses, including that heart-breaker in Starkville last week. The Cats have had an extended week of practice following the MSU game and we could see some new wrinkles, especially on offense this week.
AlabamaState has a 6-2 record on the season and much of that can be credited to former Georgia standout Isaiah Crowell, who transferred to ASU instead of attending a junior college. The Hornets are averaging 261 yards on the ground per game and have outscored opponents 299 to 195 on the year. While all of that may sound daunting for a struggling young UK team, this is still an FCS team. Kentucky will likely be the best team that they play all season. For perspective, Kentucky is ranked #83 with a 1-6 record while AlabamaState is #186 with a winning record. Kentucky’s tough schedule compares favorably to the Hornets’ 246th toughest schedule.
With that being said, Kentucky will need to be careful here. Crowell is a very dangerous back and is looking for redemption after getting injured after two carries in his first face off with the Cats. AlabamaState is also full of other FBS transfers, former Kentucky players Kadeem and Khalid Thomas for example, who are always ready to prove that they belong back in the big leagues. This is a good FCS and it’s their one chance to shine this season, they will be pumped up and ready to play, the Cats had better be able to match that intensity.
A lot of focus this week will be on Kentucky’s offense as the defense has steadily improved throughout the year besides some broken plays. Nobody really knows how healthy Jalen Whitlow is, but it sounds like he will start this week. It would be nice to see Kentucky jump out to an early lead and rest Whitlow for the Missouri game. The question is who would replace him under center. By all accounts Reese Phillips will make his first appearance this season as the coaches look for an answer (however temporary) at quarterback. If Phillips is going to play this year, this is the time to do it. Even if the passing game struggles, Raymond Sanders and JoJo Kemp should be able to carry the offense to points in this contest. It may be the last game that isn’t frigid temperatures, so come on out and enjoy what should be a Kentucky victory with some plot twists to boot.