Nov 9, 2013; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators defensive back Jaylen Watkins (14) defends Vanderbilt Commodores wide receiver Jordan Matthews (87) as he makes a catch during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Vanderbilt Commodores defeated the Florida Gators 34-17. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky Wildcats Football: Preview of the Vanderbilt game


 

A solid thumping by Missouri brought the Kentucky football team back to the realization that they didn’t actually accomplish a whole lot by beating Alabama State. A lot can be learned from the loss, and now the Wildcats will turn to Vanderbilt and their second trip to Nashville this season to take on the Commodores.

 

When Kentucky has the ball:

It is becoming readily apparent that the passing game is just not going to develop at a fast enough pace this season and that the team will be forced to rely on a potent rushing attack to stay in games. For all of his struggles as a passer, Jalen Whitlow has proved to be a formidable rusher this season and would actually lead the team in rushing yards by a significant margin if the yards lost on sacks weren’t factored in.  To be fair though, Whitlow has made progress as a passer.  He is not making mistakes (only one interception thrown this season) and he consistently completes over 60% of his passes.  Luckily, Vanderbilt’s defense is somewhat susceptible to the run, allowing opponents to rush for almost 150 yards per game.  If Whitlow, Sanders and Kemp can set the tempo on the ground, the Kentucky offense is much more likely to find a rhythm early against the Commodores.

 

When Vanderbilt has the ball:

The loss of Carta-Samuels at quarterback has pushed redshirt freshman Patton Robinette into the starting position and to mixed results.  Robinette isn’t very accurate (completing just 57% of his passes) or protective (3 picks against only 36 completions) of the football and this can really stall the offense.  Against Florida, he only completed 6 of 12 attempts for 57 total passing yards.  Surprisingly, the offense has still struggled to run the ball over the past two weeks with Robinette at quarterback.  The Commodores aren’t overly good at any one thing and their win over the Gators could largely be attributed to the collapse of Florida’s offense.  The Gators committed four turnovers in the game, giving the ball to Commodores on the Florida 10, 22, and 4 yard lines on the three interceptions and a fumble that stopped the Gators inside of Vanderbilt territory right before halftime.  Add in 11 penalties against Florida, and it’s not like the Gators made it hard for Vandy to pull off the upset.  The Commodores will try to bring a run-heavy offense into the Kentucky game and keep the defensive line from teeing off on Robinette.

 

 

Players to know for Vanderbilt:

33 – Jerron Seymour – RB

Don’t let the height listing of 5’7 fool you; Seymour is a bowling ball that can pick up yards.  With Robinette still finding his niche at quarterback, the Vanderbilt staff is likely to entrust Seymour to pick up yards on the ground behind a surprisingly good offensive line.

#87 – Jordan Matthews – WR

Despite his team’s struggles in throwing the ball, Matthews has still almost eclipsed 1,00 yards on the season.  At 6’3 and 205 pounds, he is a big, physical receiver that is going to be a tough match up for any of Kentucky’s small corners.

#1 – Kenny Ladler – DB

The former Kentucky recruit hails from Stephenson High School in Stone Mountain, GA and was a teammate of current Wildcats Ray Sanders, Ronnie Shields, and Jabari Johnson.  Ladler has been the unquestioned best player on a pretty good Vandy defense and has been active enough to amass 73 total tackles, 3 interceptions, and four forced fumbles.  The Kentucky offense should run/throw away from him at all costs.

 

Potential breakout players:

#6 – A.J. Legree – WR

A rash of injuries has hit the receiving corps and Legree is in prime contention to capitalize from this.  He showed a great rapport with Whitlow during the spring game but has taken a back seat to all four of the new additions at receiver since the season started.  With Montgomery gone for the year and Timmons still banged up, Legree will have a great chance to be the primary redzone target.

#5 – Ashely Lowery – DB

Let’s be honest here.  Despite playing for three consecutive seasons, Lowery has yet to really make a name for himself at safety.  Lining up against an inexperienced and sporadic quarterback should allow Lowery to diagnose plays and find the ball.

#41 – Travaughn Paschal – LB

He is splitting time at this point, but Paschal seems to have a pretty good nose for the ball for a guy that has only been playing linebacker for half a season.  With Vanderbilt expected to use a heavy dose of the running game this week, Paschal’s size advantage over UK’s other outside linebackers should put him in the drivers seat for playing time early and often.

 

Outcome:

Vanderbilt is not a bad team, but they are also not as good as their record suggests and have probably benefited from some injuries to their opponents.  If Kentucky can play sound football this week, an undermanned Wildcat team could pull off the upset in Nashville.  If the Wildcat’s offense continues to struggle moving the ball consistently, Vanderbilt could cruise by wearing down a thin UK defense.  This is a unique game though, because Kentucky should be in it until the very end unless they take themselves out of it with penalties and/or turnovers.

 

Prediction:

Kentucky 31 – Vanderbilt 27

 

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