Kentucky Football: If the Cats hope to beat Georgia all the stars must align

Kentucky’s Kavosiey Smoke
Kentucky’s Kavosiey Smoke /
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Kentucky football
Chris Rodriguez Jr of the Kentucky Wildcats (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Kentucky football must control the tempo every second for 60 minutes

Every team wants to control the game’s tempo and force their opponent out of theirs. At times this season UK has been very good at this and in others, it’s been suspect.

There is little room for error and giving Georgia any daylight to seize the game can quickly send UK into panic and catch-up mode.

There is no magic secret as to what both of the SEC East’s best teams will do. Their identities are pretty clear – run the ball. It makes each offense go and both squads are very good at doing so. Kentucky must have success here while the defense must contain the Dawgs, not stop them because no one can.

"Stoops spoke about this to the media earlier this week. “We’re going to need to play our very best. We’re worried about ourselves and our preparation. If you want to continue to play in big games, take care of what’s in front of you.”"

If Georgia’s surging ground game kicks into gear that could spell trouble. Liam Coen’s offense, no matter the number of weapons isn’t honestly constructed and geared at rallying from behind.

An opening drive stop of Georgia by the Kentucky “D” isn’t enough. They have to set the tone and continue avoiding any big plays while applying the brakes to this Georgia offense.

The offense has to make every possession matter. Slowing the game to a crawl keeps the Georgia offense off the field. Will Levis has to manage the game to perfection with confidence, not risks. You simply can’t do that in a game of this magnitude.

Levis spoke about this on SEC Radio this week.

"“That’s why I came here. It’s why you come to the (SEC). It’s stuff that you dream of when you make decisions like that. It’s one of the environments you think of when you think of SEC football, Sanford Stadium in Athens. Really excited to go down there and play the best team in the country."

As a whole, the offense and defense can ill afford to put any undue pressure on the other side of the ball by failing to execute and balance out the time each is on the field.

Time of possession will be a key stat. Kentucky has been pretty balanced this year having it 30.44 minutes per game while their opponents possess it 29.16 minutes. The Dawgs average 32.38 minutes while allowing their opponents just 27.22 minutes a game.

To keep drives moving Kentucky must do a better job of converting 3rd downs into 1st downs. This has been a real problem for the past two weeks.

Kentucky for the year has converted 28 of 62 (45.1%) but the defense has been stingy only giving up 36 of 89 (40.4%).

Georgia though doesn’t allow many conversions as opponents have only been able to cash in on 27 percent of them (24 of 87). The offense has converted 37-76 (48.6%).