This is the official A Sea of Blue Open Game Thread for the Arkansas Razorbacks vs. the Kentucky Wildcats.
As Ken said in his game analysis, this is as close to a "must win" as Kentucky has had since it began its SEC season. Lose this game, and the road to bowl eligibility becomes much more difficult, not to mention opening the SEC season with a Tennessee-like 0-3. This is a game Kentucky should win at home, and there are no real excuses available to them if they fail to fire.
Here are five things that should result in a UK win:
- Exploit turnovers - UK has a very favorable turnover margin against the Hogs, and the Hogs have been very careless with the football all year long. But just getting turnovers is not enough -- UK must turn them into points.
- Protect the quarterback -- Hartline is due for a good game, and UK has done a great job protecting him all year. If they can continue, our QB and receiving corps are eventually going to start getting it right.
- Defend the run -- Arkansas has one of the leading rushers in the SEC in Michael Smith, and we can't afford to let him run up and down the field like he did against Auburn's formerly highly-ranked defense.
- Put pressure on Casey Dick -- Casey Dick is quite capable of delivering the ball to some dangerous receivers if the 'Cats don't get in his face.
- Get back to solid special teams -- Last week's game was a debacle from a special teams standpoint, surrendering a touchdown and a long runback, on a kickoff, as well as two very poor punts.
Here are five things that could skin the 'Cats:
- Allowing Arkansas to isolate Smith on linebackers -- Smith is extremely fast and elusive, and if we let him get the ball in the secondary, it will be ugly.
- Giving Dick time to throw the football -- Our pass defense is excellent, but no defense is good enough to play SEC receivers man-to-man for 15 seconds.
- Give up the big play -- Kentucky has been struggling with this in the last two games, and it has cost them mightily.
- Gain less than 150 yards rushing -- Locke & Co. have not been helping the passing game by getting it done on the ground. Arkansas does not have an imposing run defense, and if we can't run against them, we can't run against anyone.
- Get confused on defense -- Last week, a confused defense was not ready for a play that resulted in a Gamecock touchdown, the winning score as it turned out. That needs to stop right now.
Here it is, Cat fans -- they one we really need, right now. Let's bring 'em home.