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Georgia @ Kentucky: Open Game Thread

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This is the official A Sea of Blue open game thread for Georgia @ Kentucky.

Now that the Saurian Demons from Gainesville have messily dispatched the two combatants who will meet today on Commonwealth Stadium's verdure, both teams have a lot to prove, if not a tremendous amount riding on that proof.

For Georgia, their hopes of an SEC championship have been largely crushed by critical injuries to the o-line and failure to overcome the Florida and the Tide, and have now receded to the point that they will be cheering for the likes of Vanderbilt and South Carolina to collectively rise up and smite the Gators back to back. Given the way the Saurians have been playing of late, the Classic City Canines are about as likely to collectively win a Powerball jackpot as to witness a Florida collapse of that magnitude. But with their overwhelming defeat at the hands of the Reptiles, the Dawgs' fate is no longer in their hands, and they must hope for a long shot to come in.

For Kentucky, an SEC championship was never a realistic goal, even less so now that injuries have decimated the team. But a third straight trip to a post-season game was very much a goal, and one that the 'Cats have at least nominally achieved. Of course, it is also a goal of Kentucky to equal or surpass last season's 7-5 mark, and that objective, while still very much in doubt, appears quite doable with Vandy at home and Tennessee away remaining on the schedule.

So with all that as a backdrop, let's look at five things that the 'Cats must do to win today, and five things that will make a Kentucky victory unlikely:

Five things the 'Cats must do in order to win:

  1. Defend the run -- When Knowshon Moreno runs for over 100 yards in games this year, the Dawgs are undefeated.
  2. Pressure Matthew Stafford -- If the Kentucky defensive line, newly augmented with at least a serviceable Myron Pryor, can get to Stafford a lot, it will make defending the run much easier.
  3. Score -- Kentucky must score consistently. Touchdowns are better, but the 'Cats must come away with points every time they are in the red zone. That has bee a huge bugaboo for the team this year, something UK fans are not used to seeing.
  4. Execute on special teams -- Georgia has a very capable punt return team, and this game figures to see quite a few Kentucky punts. Keeping Georgia from coming away from punting situations with a short field is critical.
  5. Keep Georgia backed up -- Georgia has a tendency to stall on long drives, so the longer they have to go each time on offense, the better UK's chances. Three and outs against UGA are going to be hard to get, so the defense must suck it up and play hard all the time.

Five things that will make a UK victory unlikely:

  1. Knowshon Moreno in the UK secondary -- I don't really need to expound on this, do I?
  2. Georgia big plays -- Georgia likes to throw the ball vertically, especially on second and five or less. Unlike most teams, Georgia has two, not one, really dangerous receiving threats in A.J. Green and Mohamed Massaquoi. Our defensive backfield needs its best game of the season, and our D-line needs to get in Stafford's face.
  3. Repeated 3-and-outs on offense -- To have a chance in this game, Kentucky cannot afford for its defense to be worn out in the first half by a lack of ball movement on offense.
  4. Special teams faux pas -- Kentucky can't afford any blocked kicks or breakdowns on special teams. Georgia is just too good.
  5. Turnovers -- UK has won the turnover battle in most games. To win, we must do so here as well.

That's it, guys and gals. Enjoy the game. Post your comments here. I will be opening the thread about 30 minutes in advance of the game for some pre-game chatter.

This is a chance for UK to make a statement in front of the home crowd, and sail into a bowl guarantee. Let's do the work.

Go, 'Cats!