Kentucky is reeling after losing two of their last three games, both to teams from the state of Mississippi. Kentucky avoids the Deep South as they head to Nashville to take on a Vanderbilt team that does not have an SEC victory. What do the stats say as we gear up for Saturday?
· 220.4 Passing Yards-Per-Game (1,984 passing yards in nine games)
· 7:1 Touchdown-to-Interception Ratio in on the year (21 TDs – 3 INTs)
· 55.6% Completion Percentage on 301 pass attempts (37.6 per game)
Kyle Shurmur, son of Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, has had quite the productive year for himself. After throwing for nine touchdowns to ten interceptions as a sophomore, he’s completely turned it around as a junior. Shurmur has tossed 20 touchdowns to only three interceptions. It’ll be up to Kentucky to make him force a turnover. All three of his interceptions have been in conference play.
· 192.2 Passing Yards-Per-Game (1,730 passing yards in nine games)
· 5:2 Touchdown-to-Interception Ratio (10 TDs – 4 INTs)
· 61.2% Completion Percentage on 232 pass attempts (26 per game)
Stephen Johnson’s knee is the pressing concern going into the contest against Vanderbilt. This may be a game Johnson won’t have to do much in terms of making plays happen. The ‘Cats need him healthy for Georgia and Louisville, so hopefully he won’t have to do too much to get the win.
· 3.64 Rushing Yards-Per-Attempt on 255 attempts
· 103.2 Rushing-Yards-Per Game (929 rushing yards in nine games)
· 9 Rushing Touchdowns in nine games
Ralph Webb was selected to the preseason All-SEC team over Benny Snell, and I went on radio to protest that claim. The statistics back my stance. Webb only has 543 yards and six touchdowns on the year at under four yards-per-carry. Playing from behind isn’t the easiest way to rack up numbers, but Webb hasn’t had the year he had hoped for.`
· 4.3 Rushing Yards-Per-Attempt on 339 attempts
· 161.4 Rushing Yards-Per-Game (1,453 rushing yards in nine games)
· 16 Rushing Touchdowns in nine games
Snell and Johnson have lead the way on a successful Kentucky rushing attack. The offensive line has struggled, but they have played better in the last couple of weeks. It doesn’t hurt that they have faced two of the worst rushing defenses in the nation. Vanderbilt isn’t as bad as Tennessee or Ole Miss, but it shouldn’t be too difficult to find room on the ground.
· Trent Sherfield: 32 receptions, 540 yards, 3 TDs, Senior
· Kalija Lipscomb: 26 catches, 440 yards, 6 TDs, Sophomore
· C.J. Duncan: 34 catches, 319 yards, 4 TDs, Senior
Vanderbilt has a cast that’s not spectacular, but knows how to find the endzone. Their top two receivers average almost 17 yards-per-reception, so UK’s reeling secondary will need to keep those two in check.
· Garrett Johnson: 36 receptions, 388 yards, 2 TDs, Senior
· C.J. Conrad: 14 receptions, 270 yards, 4 TDs, Junior
· Tavin Richardson: 16 receptions, 198 yards, 1 TD, Sophomore
It hasn’t been pretty for the ‘Cats receivers. Only Garrett Johnson has more than 20 receptions on the year. The tight end core has as many touchdowns as the receiving core. Easily the weakest group on the team.
· 29.2 Points-Per-Game (263 points in nine games)
· 191.3 Passing Yards-Per-Game (1,722 passing yards in nine games)
· 211.6 Rushing Yards-Per-Game (1,904 rushing yards in nine games)
· 11 Passing Touchdowns, 23 Rushing Touchdowns in nine games
· 6 Interceptions, 9 Forced Fumbles, 1 Fumble Recovery
· 36.15% Third Down Conversion Rate
Vandy isn’t incompetent on defense, but they have given up 34 points or more in every SEC game they have played. They don’t force turnovers consistently, even though they’ve forced nine fumbles this season. The 23 rushing touchdowns is the key stat. If Benny still has gas in the tank, and if Johnson’s knee is up for the task, then Kentucky should be able to get into the endzone on the ground.
· 26.2 Points-Per-Game (236 points in nine games)
· 279.4 Passing Yards-Per-Game (2,515 passing yards in nine games)
· 128.8 Rushing Yards-Per-Game (1,159 rushing yards in nine games)
· 17 Passing Touchdowns, 11 Rushing Touchdowns
· 6 Interceptions, 9 Forced Fumbles, 7 Fumble Recoveries
· 39.71% Third Down Conversion Rate
This is a defense in need of an inspiring performance before the last two games. A dominating effort is needed, but it doesn’t seem like they will be up for it. I’m holding out hope, but the numbers keeping going up and the turnovers are much more sparse than they used to be.
· Teams have run 104 more plays than Vanderbilt so far this season
· Vanderbilt has a better third down conversion rate than their opponents (39.52% to 36.15%)
· Vanderbilt has only attempted six field goals on the year
· Vandy has only 24 trips to the redzone this year
· Kentucky is excellent in the redzone, as they have scored on 27 of their 29 trips
· Kentucky converts on 41.67% of their third downs, 49th in the nation
· Punter Matt Panton has been suspended for this contest. He was averaging 42.75 yards-per-punt this season.
This game will make fans feel better if they can leave Nashville with a victory, but it is not a “must-win” game. Whatever the results of the Georgia and Louisville games will define this season. Losing to Ole Miss and Florida in the final minute put a very sour taste in fans mouths, and for good reason. Instead of entering the contest 8-1, the ‘Cats are 6-3. I still say the Wildcats emerge victorious, but it is no guarantee.
Time: 4pm EST
Where: Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee
Television: SEC Network
Weather: High of 61, sunset at 4:41 PM, 0% chance of rain
All statistics retrieved from cfbstats.com.