Kentucky Wildcats Football: An early look at the Vanderbilt game


Vanderbilt – November 12, 2011 – Nashville, TN

When the Wildcats travel to Nashville to take on the Commodores, they’ll be taking to the road for the first time in over a month and Vandy will be coming home after a road trip to the Swamp in Gainesville. Kentucky will be looking to take advantage of a weak Vanderbilt team in Nashville and win a game that could very well guarantee the Cats bowl eligibility. Luckily for UK, previous trips to Nashville have basically been home games (Vandy hasn’t beaten Kentucky in Nashville since 2003).

The Kentucky defense will be looking to take advantage of Vanderbilt QB Larry Smith again this year after his 10-for-26 performance last season. If RB Warren Norman can stay healthy, the Commodores will likely try to focus on the running attack to cover for their lack of experience at receiver and lack of depth on the offensive line. The Kentucky offense will look to capitalize on mistakes by the Vanderbilt defensive front seven, where LB Chris Marve is the only proven playmaker.

Why Kentucky will win…

Vanderbilt is reeling in top flight recruits like the program has never done in the past, but all these heralded guys aren’t on campus yet. The current roster is extremely thin and void of any game breaking talent. Linebacker Chris Marve could play for anyone in the country and some forget that Warren Norman was the SEC freshman of the year in 2009. But then again, outside of those two there isn’t much to get excited about. The offensive line is razor thin and considering how late in the season this game is, it’s possible that true freshmen and/or walk-ons might be starting if the Commodores experience many injuries to the unit. The receivers are a far cry from Earl Bennett and Larry Smith is no Jay Cutler. The defensive line is extremely light per SEC standards and there will be two new linebackers along with Marve.

On the flip-side, Kentucky’s strengths should magnify the Vanderbilt weaknesses. The wildcat defense is centered on confusing the offense and Larry Smith has been mistake prone throughout his career. The Kentucky offense will feature one of the best offensive lines in the SEC and the Vanderbilt front seven is extremely light and filled with inexperienced players. A steady dose of the running game could very well be more than the Commodores can handle. This Vanderbilt team just does not have the talent or depth that Kentucky has and the Wildcats should completely overpower the Commodores in their contest.

Kentucky will lose if…

In the last few meetings between the two, Kentucky has been the better all-around team for most of the last decade, but has allowed a couple of scrappy Vanderbilt teams to stick around and make the games closer than they should have been. Last season, Randall Cobb led the Cats with 170 rushing yards to go along with Derrick Locke’s 145 yards on the ground in what should have been a rout by the Wildcats. But something just wasn’t clicking for the Wildcats and Kentucky could not put the Commodores away until the beginning of the fourth quarter despite only scoring one touchdown in the first 57 minutes of the game. Now Kentucky will have to find someone else to replace all the production that Cobb, Locke, and Chris Matthews provided from last year’s contest. The Commodores could be formidable, or at least more difficult than some are projecting. The defensive backfield is talented and experienced and will look to capitalize on any mistakes made by Newton. If Kentucky gets careless, a reenergized fan base might make this road game too much for the Cats.

What I think happens…

The Wildcats come out and strong-arm the Commodores from the start. Kentucky sees two backs rush for over 100 yards again and the tight ends have their biggest game of the year. The Commodores force a fumble and score on a special teams play, but those are really the highlights of their game. Vanderbilt commits too many turnovers to ever really be in the contest and the Cats cruise on to their second victory in the Music City this year.

Final Score: UK 29 – VU 10

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