Good morning and welcome to A Sea of Blue's virtual tailgate for the Kentucky Wildcats at Vanderbilt Commodores game. We're happy to have you with us. Be sure and read Ken's preview just below in case you haven't already.
Today, we put the basketball season temporarily back on hold to jump back into the South's favorite fall pastime -- football. This contest between two 4-5 SEC teams, each with only one SEC win on their résumé, is interesting only to the respective teams' fans. Both teams need to finish the season with 2 wins out of three to gain a bid to post season play, so both teams have something to play for.
With all that in mind, let's get some food and beverage, so we can talk about this like civilized folk. Follow me on in ...
For cocktails, we'll be offering the Tennessee Legend:
Myself, I'm not a huge fan of Jack Daniels, but mixed with Coca Cola, it is one of the legendary drinks in all of America. Jack and Coke is nothing if not a crowd-pleaser.
For those of us who would rather have something a little less sweet this early in the morning, we'll also be offering my famous Bloody Marys:
Now, that's a bit more like it. Heavy on the Tabasco and light on the Worcestershire. Mmmm, tasty.
Moving on to food, as we all know, Tennessee is very much like Kentucky in a lot of ways, particularly when it comes to food. We all like mostly the same things. Today seems like a good day to go ethnic, so we'll be having:
Tacos!! Oh, yeah, babe. One of my very favorite things, especially served with farm fresh tomatoes and fresh avocado. These are fresh as can be, and plenty of fixin's for y'all. We offer both crunchy and soft, so dig in.
For those who don't like tacos, we have:
A big ol' burger. Same meat, same fixin's, different result. As a bonus, you vegetarians can graze on the salad.
Finally, for our side dish, we are bringing:
Pasta salad. Nice and colorful, isn't it? Tasty, too.
Finally, no tailgate would be complete without:
No explanation necessary.
Now that we're fed and have a cold drink, let's talk a little Vandy and Kentucky.
These two teams have a lot in common this year Both are in the bottom third of the SEC in scoring offense, passing offense and total offense, but Vandy is better than UK in all of them. Kentucky, believe it or not, is better in passing offense, but I'd say that is not much of an advantage.
Vanderbilt has been very competitive this year in almost every game. Vandy has only two lopsided losses, at South Carolina and at Alabama, and have given everybody else a really good tussle. Both UK and Vandy have beaten Mississippi at home. Neither team has defeated an opponent with a winning record.
I think in this game, the Wildcats need to try to establish the run. Unfortunately for Kentucky, Vandy has been firmly mid-pack in rushing defense all year, and the only teams that UK has managed to successfully run against are teams worse than the Commodores in that stat. Running on Vandy, on paper, looks tougher than it did against Ole Miss or Mississippi St.
Passing is a different matter, though. Vandy has pretty much sucked at pass defense this year, giving up over 200 yards/game in a schedule that has so far been no tougher than what Kentucky has played. So this looks like an opportunity for Max Smith to really shine, and gain even more confidence if the line can protect him -- Vandy has the third most sacks in the SEC and the second most interceptions. Combine that with UK's SEC-worst sack allowed numbers.
One place where UK does have the edge is in penalties. UK is the least-penalized team in the entire SEC, and Vandy is 10th. That is one of those intangibles that can help or hurt, depending on how far both teams stray from the mean.
I'll be at Churchill Downs today during the game betting on the ponies. Petra and I love to go to the track in the fall and spend the day in the Matt Winn room. I'll be keeping up with the game, though.
So that's what I've got. Your turn. Enjoy the game.