It’s time for the annual rivalry game with the old L..."/>

It’s time for the annual rivalry game with the old L..."/>

Kentucky Wildcats Football: Gameplan and Execution for Louisville


It’s time for the annual rivalry game with the old Louisville Cardinals again and both teams have shown that they have some work to do. The Cardinals in particular, have struggled and will be coming off of a loss to Florida International out of the Sun Belt Conference last Friday. The loss was preceded by a closer-than-expected win over FCS school Murray State. Kentucky is coming off two wins against Western Kentucky and Central Michigan and both teams will look to use this game to build some momentum as they head into conference play.

What you need to know about Louisville
The Cardinals offense is centered on their ability to strike quickly with the big play. The offensive line that the team has put together is lacking in experience and size, and has struggled to allow the Louisville offense to move the ball consistently. Despite their line, skill position players that the Cardinals field have been explosive and QB Will Stein has been able to get rid of the ball quickly and extend the play with his legs. Defensively, the Cardinals have really struggled to stop the big plays and were eaten alive by FIU’s Ty Hilton on his way to a 7 catch, 201-yard night. All that considered though, Coach Charlie Strong has done a good job of assembling young talent on the roster and there is plenty of potential on both sides of the ball. If Louisville’s offensive line can give Stein enough time, he’s proven to be a good passer (albeit against suspect competition). The Cardinals are likely to try to get their young, explosive skill-players in space and try to catch Kentucky’s defense when they get too aggressive. If the Wildcats do not execute on both sides of the ball, this Louisville team will make this game closer than it needs to be. The bottom line though, is that Louisville is extreemly young, very inexpirienced, and not particularly big. Despite this, they are fast and will be a danger to make a big play at any given time.

The Players you need to know for the Cardinals
#4 – Will Stein – The starting quarterback for the Cardinals, Stein beat some long odds to be where he is today. Despite being listed at 5’10, he’s probably closer to 5’7 or 5’8. He’s a scrappy passer that extends plays with his legs and can make some tight throws.
#9 – Devaunte Parker – He’s a skilled receiver from Ballard High School that was a top target at his position for UK when he was a prep player. He’s tied for second on his team in receptions and leads the Cardinals in receiving touchdowns.
#11 – Josh Chichester – A former receiver moved to tight end, Chichester is one of the toughest matchups Kentucky will face this season at 6’8 and 240 pounds. He is currently the leading receiver for Louisville with eight catches for 150 yards.
#46 – Dexter Heyman – The unquestionable leader of the defense, Heyman does a little bit of everything for Louisville. He should be equally active attacking on the blitz and dropping into coverage.
#6 – Greg Scruggs – The senior starting defensive tackle will be a handful for anyone he plays this season. He’s not the tallest or heaviest player on the roster, but Scruggs is deceptively athletic for a lineman and has a knack for disrupting plays in the backfield.

Top 3 matchups to watch
UK’s Josh Clemons VS. UL’s Dexter Heyman
With last night’s news that starting running back Raymond Sanders will sit out of the Louisville game with an injury, this matchup just vaulted to the top of the list. Clemons is a freshman, but has proven to be an explosive athlete capable of fueling the Kentucky offense both emotionally and with production. Heyman is a wily senior that has proven to be the biggest playmaker on a young Louisville defense. The deciding factor here will likely be Clemons ability to pickup Heyman on the blitz and Heyman’s ability to keep Clemons from breaking big runs.

UK’s Winston Guy VS. UL’s Josh Chichester
It’s easy to see why Stein has targeted Chichester so frequently this season, but neither will have seen a player of Guy’s size and speed in coverage yet. Chichester has been a matchup nightmare for FIU and Murray State but with Guy’s background as a defensive back and increased size for his new position, he could be adding to his interception total if Stein gets greedy.

UK’s Donte Rumph VS. UL’s Alex Kupper
Rumph has really been the unsung hero of the Kentucky defense in the first two games. He’s a load in the middle of the field and while he has yet to notch a sack, he’s been a constant disruption for offenses. Kupper will have his hands full with Rumph, who in addition to being a great athlete, have close to 50 pounds on him. If Kupper can’t at least slow down the pressure, Stein and the offense could be forced into turnovers regardless of Rumph’s final numbers.

Potential breakout players
#20 – Josh Clemons – Clemons did break an 87 yard touchdown run last week, but he could have the opportunity to put up even bigger numbers against a suspect Louisville defense.
#87 – Brian Adams – He’s gotten rave reviews from the coaching staff since he arrived in Lexington, but Adams has never had the combination of health and opportunity that he finally has now. Slated to start at wide receiver opposite La’Rod King, Adams will have plenty of opportunities to show off his athleticism this weekend.
#48 – Ridge Wilson – As a Louisville native, Wilson should have no problem getting ready to play in this game. Unfortunately for the Cardinal defense, they are unlikely to have an answer for him. When Wilson has the opportunity to rush the passer, Louisville will not have seen a player with his combination of size and athleticism this year.
#15 – Martavius Neloms – The Kentucky defensive line has the type of skills necessary to make life miserable for the Louisville offensive line, and Neloms could very easily be the benefactor. When Stein is under immense pressure from the pass rush, he may be tempted to throw the ball up and let his receivers make a play on it. If that happens, Neloms will be licking his chops in the defensive backfield as the center fielder for the Kentucky defense.

Key for a KY Win
The Wildcats are going to have to stop the big play defensively and establish the passing game offensively to beat Louisville. The Cardinals have made a living stopping the run so far this season, and have done so by stacking the box with eight or nine defenders. If Kentucky can force the safeties back into coverage, the Cats can open up their running game offensively and keep the Cardinals on their heels. When on defense, Kentucky’s aggressive defense will have to get Stein on the ground and cover the deep passes well. If they do not, Louisville could exploit the Cats’ relentless rush and gaps in coverage on their way to a big game. A balanced offense attack that keeps the Cardinals honest and a disrupti
ve, yet cautious defense should put the young UofL team in a position to make plenty of self-inflicted mistakes.

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