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Mississippi State at Kentucky -- Open Game Thread

Just a quick reminder -- I will be at the track today doing the Breeder's Cup thing, so I won't be able to watch the game live.  I will, however be keeping an eye on the score from Churchill Downs and will be checking in from time to time.

This is a big game for Kentucky, but right now, they are all big games.  We are in uncharted territory for most of our collective lives -- actually contending for the SEC East.  We do need help, but both South Carolina and Florida have very difficult games today against Tennessee and Georgia respectively.  South Carolina is traveling to Knoxville, and I don't doubt the Vols will have their usuall 100,000+ Rocky Top-singing fans hanging from every available bleacher.  Even when they aren't having a great year, Tennessee is arguably the toughest stadium to come into and get out in one piece.

Florida and Georgia are seeing the annual renewal of "The World's Largest Cocktail Party", and even though Florida is favored, Georgia is due.  Not as due as we are, but due nonetheless, and the Gators are dinged up from their tussle with us here in Commonwealth last week.

For Kentucky, we have some hurt players, but even banged up, we are a very powerful offensive team.  Plus, we get Ricky Lumpkin back this weekend at defensive tackle.  This is a significant gain for our defense, and we will need it against MSU's excellent tailback Anthony Dixon.  Our defense has to continue to fight hard to keep foes out of the end zone, and this week, we run up against one of the weaker offenses in the SEC.  But they are still strong enough to beat us if we don't bring our best.

Defensively, MSU is superior statistically, but against our offense it should not matter.  The one big concern remains our injuries in the backfield.  Derrick Locke has delivered a powerful punch for a freshman this year, but he will be asked to do more today than he has had to do all year -- start at tailback and run the football.  If Derrick steps up, we will be almost impossible to beat, as MSU would have to outscore UK -- unlikely at best.  I'm not as concerned about our wide receiver corps, as it looks to me like Burton may be able to go, although I doubt very much if he will be 100%

Tru's keys to the game:

  • Run the football -- seems like I always have this up here, but when we run the ball well, we rarely lose.  A diverse offense is definitely the best offense, and today, running the ball will be more problematic than normal with half our tailbacks down with injury.
  • Stuff the run -- we must contain Anthony Dixon.  He is a fine running back, and we are not strong against the run defensively, checking in at 95th in the FBS in that statistic.  The addition of Lumpkin to the rotation should help our cause significantly in this department
  • Take advantage of MSU's weak return coverage -- MSU will be punting the ball a lot, but they don't cover punts well.  Unfortunately, we haven't returned them well this year, but we have been facing outstanding coverages for the last several weeks.  This is an opportunity we need to take advantage of.
  • Get pressure on the QB when they pass -- MSU is a team that will throw interceptions if their quarterbacks are pressured.  MSU quarterbacks have thrown 11 interceptions so far this year (six in one game against LSU), so we need to bring the heat when they throw the ball.

This is the official ASoB Open Game Thread.  Got thoughts?  Post 'em if you have 'em!