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Kentucky Football: "Impossible Is Don't The Frenchman"

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The English fail you see in the title was a quote to me by a fellow from France I used to do business with who worked for what was then known as Thomson-LGT, a French telecommunications company that was part of the larger Thomson (now Thales) conglomerate.  What he was trying to tell me is that the French don't recognize the word "impossible," and that poor attempt at relating that concept has stuck with me for lo, these many years hence.

The Kentucky Wildcats must embrace this French nonpareil if they are to do anything other than get drubbed down on the bayou this weekend.  As Alex related earlier, it is impossible on paper for Kentucky to win at LSU.  But if that was the only thing that mattered, we would not bother to play the game.  Sports contests are not played by statistics, but men and women of flesh and bone, and surrendering before the battle is only a good idea in war.

There is very little in the outcome, or the statistics, to give Kentucky much hope.  LSU has one of the most formidable defenses in the country:  #14 in scoring, #4 in rushing, and ... what's this?  #79 in passing?  Yes, that's right ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, the Tigers are actually vulnerable in the passing game.  Three out of the four teams that have played LSU have gained 180+ yards through the air against the Bayou Bengals.  Yes, it came to naught in the end, but let's face it, that's all that they give you.

So Kentucky is going to have to find a way to successfully pass the football to have any chance to make this game competitive.  As optimistic as I am, the only thing I am realistically hoping for out of this game is that it be competitive for the most part.  If UK can accomplish that, it's something they can build on.  There are no moral victories, but there are tiny ones, and if Kentucky can compile enough tiny victories in this game, it might give them the confidence they need to improve, and after next week at South Carolina, the schedule becomes much more manageable, if still very difficult for this underpowered UK team.

So other than throw the football, what can UK do to make this a competitive game?  The most important thing is not turn the ball over.  LSU has a +2 turnover margin, 4th best in the country, and Kentucky is -0.25 giving the Tigers a net advantage of 2.25 turnovers.  The one thing Kentucky can do to prevent this game from getting completely out of hand is to take care of the football.

The other things Kentucky can do is make the simple plays.  UK has to figure out how to get their playmakers the football in space, not just plunge backs into the line.  Since  the O-line is now healthy, the Wildcats  may try a conventional running attack for a few series, but if LSU does not yield enough yards, Phillips & Co. are going to have to get creative and figure out ways to get yards on the edge, or in the short passing game.

Finally, the defense has to step up, particularly the defensive line.  Kentucky is 103rd out of 120 teams in rushing defense this year, a problem that has plagued the Wildcats over the last two seasons.  If UK cannot control LSU's rushing attack, they will suffer much the same fate as they did at the hands of the Florida Gators, only 5 yards at a time instead of 50.

Kentucky can be competitive in this game, even if a win is unlikely.  "Impossible," you say?  Perhaps.  But impossible never stopped Napoleon at Waterloo. 

Oh, wait ...