The Kentucky Wildcats already have two SEC wins on the season and have an overall record of 3-1. They achieved a milestone last week when the defeated #25 Missouri in Commonwealth Stadium. They not only beat the Tigers, the 'Cats looked like the better team for the entire game.
Now comes a game against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels that the 'Cats are expected to win and win big. These two teams are familiar with each other for all of the wrong reasons as an off the field incident became headlines during the off-season. Players for both teams were involved in multiple fights. The police became involved but charges were never pressed against any of the players. EKU handled and Kentucky handled the matter internally, but all of the players that were involved will play on Saturday.
Mark Stoops stated this week that he will not tolerate any type of retaliation behavior during the game. On a tragic note, EKU lost one of their players in a car accident over the weekend. The University of Kentucky will honor the young man during the singing of My Old Kentucky Home. Hopefully that will put life into perspective for the players and they can move on and play a good, clean football game.
Let's get to know the Colonels:
School: Eastern Kentucky University
Location: Richmond, Kentucky
Celebrity Alumni: Lee Majors (The Six Million Dollar Man), Thaskin Shinawtara (Former PM of Thailand), Rex Ryan (Head football coach of the Buffalo Bills)
Colonel Sanders A Colonel that probably talks like this.:
Head Coach: Dean Hood (44-29)
2014 Outcome: 9-4 (6-2)
2014 Key Games: Beat Miami (OH) 17-10, Beat Morehead State 55-13, Beat Murray State 43-36, Lost to Florida 52-3, Lost to Indiana State 36-16
2015 Record: 2-1 (1-0)
Current Rankings: N/A (Kentucky is currently #43 according to the Real Time RPI)
Vegas Says: No line
Colonel Offense: EKU is a FCS team but that doesn't mean that they lack firepower. The Colonel offense can put up big numbers. In their two victories they scored 51 points and 53 points against Valparaiso and Austin Peay. But, in their one game against an FBS opponent, they were completely dominated. North Carolina State romped over the Colonels 53-0. So in the small sample size that we have, it appears that against similar competition the Colonels are a formidable team, but against a superior team, they didn't even have a chance.
And this is what I expect to happen on Saturday. Kentucky's defense has been very good this season, specifically in the red zone. Bennie Coney is the quarterback for the Colonels and so far on the season he has thrown for 493 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Former Kentucky Running back Dy'Shawn Mobley is their star running back and is a senior FCS All-American, but he did not play in the last game against Austin Peay and his status is uncertain. The Colonels rode the backs of Adam Lane and Ethan Thomas in the backfield as they combined for 118 yards and three touchdowns.
I do not think the EKU offensive line will be up to the task of blocking Kentucky's front seven, which is forming into a formidable group with CJ Johnson, Farrington Huguenin, Melvin Lewis, Jason Hatcher, and Denzil Ware. Kentucky has been successful stopping the run and getting to the quarterback in their three SEC games.
The linebacker combo of Ryan Flannigan and Josh Forrest was outstanding against Missouri and that will only look to get stronger on Saturday. Flannigan still needs reps to get into full form this season and this is the perfect game to do it.
The Kentucky secondary continues to be strong and will shut down the EKU passing game. Expect a lot of young guys, second and third stringers, to see the field on Saturday. This is a good opportunity for Matt Elam to get some reps.
Colonel Defense: This is going to be all about Kentucky's offense. Patrick Towles and the Wildcat offense came into their own on Saturday against Missouri. Shannon Dawson is pushing the right buttons, and the offense line looked as solid as it has been all season with increased playing time for Cole Mosier and Kyle Meadows.
Obviously the big story on the offensive side of things is the personal issues of Boom Wiliams. He's returned to the practice field after a brief absence but it is not certain if he will play on Saturday and he was bumped to second on the depth chart. Jojo Kemp was promoted to the starting running back due to his great effort against Missouri and his overall play in three straight conference games.
I'm not going to guess what the issues are with Boom, there are plenty of people doing that who have no real idea about the situation, but if he does miss, this is the game to do it. Kentucky will over match EKU at every position on offense. Boom can take this week and the upcoming bye week to get his head straight.
Drew Barker will see the field at some point in the game. Right now there isn't a specific plan or package for him, but this is his opportunity for his first game time reps. We thought that he would see the field against ULL, but the second half serge by the Ragin' Cajuns didn't allow for that to happen.
Likely Outcome: Barring a complete catastrophe, the Wildcats should win with ease. They have superior players on both sides of the ball and should have a great deal of confidence coming off of a 2-1 stretch in SEC play. This game is about tuning up before the team gets an entire two weeks to prepare for the Auburn Tigers on what should be a wild Thursday night in October.
But the 'Cats cannot look past this game. They need to focus and take care of business to continue this wave of positivity.
Kentucky 48-EKU 7