Welcome to the first A Sea of Blue Virtual Tailgate for the 2013 season. This week the Kentucky Wildcats will travel to a neutral field in Nashville to take on the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. Last time these two teams met in Nashville, it was a snooze fest as Morgan Newton and the ‘Cats bumbled their way to a 14-3 victory. The next time they faced off was in Commonwealth and we all know too well what happened.
Since our first game features two Kentucky teams playing in Tennessee, cuisine from both neighboring states will be showcased. As usual, let's have a drink to kick things off.
It's going to be hot, so something ice cold and refreshing will do:
Jack and Coke (via allaboutgeorge)
Since the game is in the Volunteer state, the most famous of whiskeys must be consumed. Normally Kentuckians would turn their noses up at this with their affinity for good bourbon, but when in Rome...
And an ice cold Coca-Cola always tastes best on a hot summer evening.
For the appetizer, let's take it back home:
Kentucky Burgoo (via amainbucatarie)
Kentucky bourbon burgoo (see how I still snuck in the bourbon?) is just enough to whet the appetite. The key to a good burgoo is to let it cook for a long, long time. Luckily kickoff isn't until 7:00 PM, so our appetizer will have plenty of time to cook. Veal, lamb, pork, chicken, salt, pepper, and of course bourbon, are just a few of the ingredients that go into this classic Kentucky concoction.
Time for the main course:
365-23c Rack Memphis Baby Back Rib (via cassaendra)
Memphis style barbeque ribs are the pride of Tennessee. What sets Memphis barbeque apart from its Texas, Carolina and Kansas City cousins is the spiciness. Let's use a rub on these bad boys and make them dry.
Spicy barbecue not your thing? How about something all Kentuckians, Western and other, can enjoy:
kaffir lime fried chicken (via Andrea_Nguyen)
Fried chicken is a Blue Grass staple. Kentuckians were eating it before the Colonel took it to the masses.
Corn on the Cob (via PLUM.....a Spoo and a Weim)
You can't go wrong with corn on the cob.
Potato Salad (via NatalieMaynor)
Or potato salad.
And the brew to bring it all home:
Kentucky bourbon barrel Ale (via swanksalot)
Now that our bellies are full, it's time to get to the game.
It's been discussed ad nauseum how important this game is to Mark Stoops and the Wildcats. This match up may not be a must win scenario, but it is crucial.
The starting quarterback will finally be revealed to the masses and while my head tells me it will be Jalen Whitlow, my gut is telling me Maxwell Smith will be the guy. Smith was looking to put up big numbers before going down last season with his nagging shoulder injury. Smith did throw four interceptions in the loss to WKU on that fateful night in Commonwealth but Stoops and offensive coordinator Neal Brown might be looking for the most polished quarterback for the job. And that appears to be Smith.
But don't worry Whitlow fans; your guy will most definitely see the field. Whitlow's undeniable athleticism cannot be ignored. He adds a dimension to the offense that Maxwell does not and his presence on the field would make the Hilltoppers account for another player that can pull the ball and run for long distances. Even if Smith is named the starter, Whitlow may take the most snaps before the clock hits quadruple zeroes.
There is no question as to the starting running back. Raymond Sanders has been named as a leader of the team and he has embraced the role. Sanders' quickness and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield makes him tailor made for Brown's offense. Jonathan George, Jo Jo Kemp, and DyShawn Mobley will more than likely all see carries (in that order) to keep the WKU defense on their toes and out of breath.
It cannot be ignored that not one of the wide receivers on the team has ever caught a touchdown pass in a game in a Wildcat uniform. But Demarco Robinson has shown speed and promise. AJ Legree and Darryl Collins share wide receiver starting honors with Robinson but don't doubt for a second that Javess Blue and Ryan Timmons will see passes thrown their way.
The defense will be anchored on the ends by Bud Dupree and Za'Darius Smith. Smith missed a great deal of camp due to a high ankle sprain but he and the coaches have stated that he will be 100% ready on game day. Run stuffers Mister Cobble and Donte Rumph will be essential in stopping WKU senior running back Antonio Andrews. He carried the ball for 1,684 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2012. He is definitely the best player the Hilltoppers have and will be a load to stop.
The Kentucky secondary will have junior QB Brandon Doughty to contend with. Doughty has thrown for 113 yards and one interception for his career. His inexperience will hopefully counter the Wildcats' most vulnerable position.
Rejoice fans, football season is underway. After the tailgate, go root on your new coaching staff and your new look Kentucky Wildcats. A revenge victory against WKU and Bobby Petrino would be the perfect way to start the season. This game will set the precedent for contests yet to be played.
On, on UofK.