Both the Kentucky Wildcats and Georgia Bulldogs lost last weekend, which makes it a critical game for both in the SEC East. Kentucky has four conference losses and is out of the race, but can play the spoiler for a two loss Georgia team.
For those who hoped Georgia would come to Lexington flat, Florida put a hurt on that belief by beating the Dawgs 38-20 in Jacksonville last week. They will be in a mood to make amends which doesn't bode well for the Wildcats. For those who feel relief that Todd Gurley won't play due to suspension, I have news for you. Freshman Nick Chubb has been more than an adequate replacement. On the season, Gurley has 772 yards on 94 carries over five game and Chubb has 725 yards on 120 carries over eight games. Since Gurley was suspended, Chubb has had 143 yards (38 carries against Mizzou), 202 yards (30 carries against Arkansas) and 156 yards (21 carries against the Gators). That's an average of 5.63 yards per carry. The drop off from Todd Gurley to Nick Chubb is not bad for Georgia considering Kentucky's difficulty stopping the run.
Georgia has run 539 plays over nine games and 62.2% of those plays have been on the ground for an offense that averages 440 yards per game. Hutson Mason has thrown for 11 touchdowns and has a completion rate of 67.9%. Kentucky has no easy task on defense.
Here's a comparison:
Total Offense (NCAA Rank): UGA 440 (43rd), UK 407.8 (64th)
Rushing : UGA 250.3 (16th), UK 153.2 (73rd)
Passing: UK 254.6 (45th), UGA 198.8 (98th)
Total Defense: UGA 336.1 (21st), UK 371.8 (50th)
Rushing: UGA 144.3 (47th), UK 188.6 (94th)
Passing: UK 183.2 (14th), UGA 191.9 (19th)
Before the Missouri game, the SEC Network's Jesse Palmer was touting Patrick Towles as the best quarterback in the conference. Towles promptly went out on the field and proved Palmer wrong. Towles, however, will be a good NFL prospect for the future because he has the size, mobility and decent form. In two more years, he may be the best in the SEC, but now right now. Now that everyone is back down to earth, we can compare Hutson Mason and Patrick Towles without the blue kool-aid running through our veins.
Passing Efficiency: Mason 144.4 (35th), Towles 130.7 (61st) (9th in SEC)
Completion %: Mason 67.9% (7th), Towles 59.1% (65th) (9th in SEC)
Points Responsible for per game: Mason 11.8 (61st), Towles 11.3 (64th)
Here's the weekly comparison of schedules and statistics:
Looking ahead to Tennessee and Louisville isn't exactly an attempt at futility, but both are road games and the Vols have been getting better with each passing week. Neyland Stadium has not been kind to Kentucky over the years and there's no reason to expect things to change much this year. Louisville is beatable, but it is a road game and Kentucky has shown us that they haven't competed on the road since the trip to Florida.
I am beyond worrying about the sixth win because I don't think this is the year. We're just getting started and this team doesn't have the talent or depth yet. It has been established this week that this team is undisciplined and that's mostly due to youth. I'm okay with that because most didn't expect five wins. We've improved under Stoops and I am very happy with the improvement we have made. We've been competitive in all but two games and both were on the road. I've decided to sit back and enjoy the rest of the rest of the season without the burden of expectations. That doesn't mean I can't hope and that doesn't mean this team is incapable of surprising me. Like my dog, I've made the decision to live in the moment and just enjoy whatever the moment brings. If we beat Georgia, I will enjoy the surprise tremendously, but if we lose, I'm not going to allow myself to be upset about it. I know we will be better next year.
Let's celebrate our seniors on Saturday:
LB Grant Aumiller, WR Javess Blue, TE Steven Borden, LB Tyler Brause, DT Christian Coleman, S Eric Dixon, DT Mike Douglas, LB Tré Dunn, DE Alvin "Bud" Dupree, OT Teven Eatmon-Nared, OL Max Godby, S Ashely Lowery, OL Darrian Miller, LB TraVaughn Paschal, WR Demarco Robinson, TE Ronnie Shields, LB Miles Simpson, DE Za'Darius Smith, FB D.J. Warren, CB Nate Willis. Also, I hear that this will be John Gruenschlaeger's final season. The junior is apparently going to forego his senior season of eligibility next season. Here's what Stoops had to say about these players,
"They've been a special group to coach. It was hard transition for them. They didn't ask for a coaching change, but they've handled it very well. They've been very good leaders for us, and they've made a very big difference in this year's team. So hopefully we can go out and play well with their last game here at home."
Kentucky's improvement to where we are could not have been accomplished without these young men. I hope the fans give them a great send off.