This week as State prepares to travel to Lexington, Kentucky to take on the Kentucky Wildcats, we talk to Kentucky and SEC bloggers and sports writers to help us better understand who this 2011 Kentucky team is. Despite some less than great results recently, the Wildcats come into this weekends game with an identical 3-4 record as our Bulldogs. No more Randall Cobb or Mike Hartline for the Wildcats, so who all does this team feature this season?
Today we sat down with Shane Bailey of SEC Sports Roundtable to talk a little Kentucky Wildcat football. For those of you who don't already know about them, SEC Sports Roundtable is an SEC podcast and roundtable discussion website covering. Check Shane and the rest of the guys out, they do a great job discussing SEC sports from the fans perspective, much like we do here at SBNation.
Q1: Coming into this week’s game with MSU with an identical 3-4 record to the bulldogs, what are Kentucky's expectations for the rest of the season?
There is more to be excited about than most Kentucky fans think. You look at last year's team on offense and you have missing this year Derrick Locke, Mike Hartline, Randall Cobb, and Moncel Allen. These 4 individuals accounted for nearly 83% of the offense and Locke missed time with an injury and Hartline a game for being stupid. Chris Matthews, Allen, Locke and Cobb accounted for 19 of the 26 receiving touchdowns as well. To say that a major part of the offense is missing this year is an understatement. On top of that a bruised ego from Ryan Mossokowski a 4 star QB that transferred in the off season (and would have been starter if he stayed) has left the offense in shambles. The good news is that Kentucky has a strong Defense, although the numbers do not show it. Their numbers are bad because all they do is play defense. 3 and outs will kill a defense over time and that is what has happened to Kentucky's defense.
Q2: Who has emerged as this year's offensive leader with the loss of last year's stars Randall Cobb and Mike Hartline?
A guy on the bench and an ineffective QB. Josh Clemmons the Freshman Running Back
iswas UK's biggest offensive weapon besides Newton the QB. Clemons is now out for the season w/ an injury and UK will look to JR CoShik Williams and SO Jonathon George to carry the ball in Clemons' absence. Newton has a ton of potential, but the bad news for Kentucky is his development. If Newton can mature in a hurry there is hope for Kentucky. He has the speed to tuck the ball and run it, as well as a strong arm. It will take growth in Newton and an upperclassman running back to now step in and try and lead UK's offense.
Q3: With another Top 5 basketball team waiting to get started, are most Kentucky fans moved on to basketball and not really concerned with football?
Did you see the attendance at Commonwealth? UK has always been basketball first. Kentucky fans have been spoiled by a program that has been good enough to win it’s out of conference games and pull off a couple of SEC wins. With the losses UK has this season the fan base has lost interest quickly. UK will have to pull a surprise win to bring the fans back. The good news is that the rest of their schedule has Vanderbilt, UT, Ole Miss and Miss St. 3 of those 4 schools have losing records and Vanderbilt has as much trouble scoring as UK.
Q4: After almost 20 games into the Joker Phillips era, how would you rate him as a HC so far?
To take a line out of the movie "Beautiful Girls"- good solid seven and a half. Joker received the support of AD Mitch Barnhart last week. So I see him coming back one more year. He had a lot to leave through the NFL, graduations and transfer and this is a little of a rebuilding year. The guy can recruit and so can his assistants, so they will get the talent. It is not Joker’s fault that his QB has not panned out like thought. The QB has the talent, not the decision making skills and those are impossible to judge on a High School kid.
Q5: What is a key for Kentucky to be able to win the game Saturday?
Keep their defense off the field. UK’s offense does not need to score every time they have the ball, but they need to control the time of possession. If they are able to do this, it will allow their defense to do its job and keep State from scoring at will. Although State has struggled at times this year to score, they have the talent on the offensive side to make big plays. UK will also need to be the benefactor of a turnover for score to keep them in this one.
Q6: Score Prediction
UK 17 Miss St 27