It’s time to move on to this afternoon’s game against the Florida Gators. The Wildcats are looking to end the Gators’ winning streak before reaching 30 consecutive meetings, but will face a difficult task of doing so in The Swamp. However, if the Wildcats are going to pull off the upset, these four Wildcats will need to have strong performances.
- Garrett Johnson
Two years ago, Johnson had one of the best games of his career in the Swamp with six catches, 154 yards, and two touchdowns. Johnson, a Florida native who was passed over by the Gators coming out of high school, will look to have another big game in the Swamp. Johnson is coming off another big game last week against Southern Miss, where he caught six passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns. This will be Johnson’s last trip to the Swamp in a Kentucky uniform, so I expect him to have a big game.
2. The defensive line
I am well aware that this includes multiple players, but the defensive line has to improve if Kentucky has ANY chance of winning. The UMass defensive line was consistently able to get pressure on Gators QB Luke Del Rio and win match ups along the line of scrimmage. Mark Stoops said we could see some new faces on the defensive line this week, so hopefully more players will be able to rotate in and out in order to avoid fatigue. Kentucky was able to consistently apply pressure on USM QB Nick Mullens last week, so if Kentucky can provide a pass rush and hold position at the line of scrimmage, it could mean good things for the Wildcats.
3. JoJo Kemp
Kemp struggled last week, taking five carries for seven yards. Boom Williams will likely have a strong performance this week, but in order for the Wildcats to have success in the running game, they need another player to step up. Enter JoJo Kemp. As a senior and Florida native, this will be Kemp’s last chance to defeat the Gators. If Williams and Kemp are able to put up strong performances against a stout Gators defense, it will make things much easier for Drew Barker.
4. Grant McKinniss
Yes, the punter is my fourth player to watch. McKinniss is a true freshman still adjusting to the college game and will be tested extensively on the road in The Swamp. McKinniss had one punt blocked last week, and the Wildcats can’t afford for that to happen this week. McKinniss punted four times last week, averaging 36.8 yards per punt. While not the worst, there is a lot of room for improvement. That average ranks 71st in the nation for average yards per punt. Ideally, the coaches would probably like to see McKinniss eclipse 40 yards per punt. Field position will be vital, and a major part of that will be a solid punting game.