Currently sitting at 3-0 on the young season, Mark Stoops’ comments after the team's latest win over Akron point to a sense of what the BBN is feeling.
“Another game where we win by 30 and I am pissed off.”
That has been the feeling most fans have gotten through the first three games. Although they are wins, there are still some questions marks that need to be answered as some big-time games are quickly approaching.
But a win is a win, and this team is absolutely not taking a 3-0 start for granted.
Vanderbilt is coming into this game at 2-2 on the season with wins over Hawaii and Alabama A&M and losses at Wake Forest and at UNLV. They’re also entering this game with a win over Kentucky in Lexington last season.
If the Cats hope to make sure that doesn't happen again this year, there are a few things they need to make sure are shored up before they head to Nashville.
Let’s take a look.
Fix the Mental Mistakes
Kentucky is going to enter this game as at least a two-touchdown favorite and easily possesses the better roster on paper.
What is the quickest way to make sure all of that goes out the window? Mental mistakes.
We have seen quite a few of these throughout the first three weeks, which is very uncharacteristic of a Mark Stoops-coached team. From holding penalties to false starts and offsides to even running wrong routes from the play call, it has been sloppy play from the Cats on both sides of the ball several times this season. That has got to change.
Does it need to be perfect on Saturday? No, not necessarily. But some early mistakes could give this Vanderbilt team the most dangerous ingredient for an upset...hope.
Play clean football, and the talent should win out in this one.
Get the Offense on track
This may sound like a broken record by now, but there are still some steps that we all want this offense to take.
With elite skill talent like Barion Brown, Dane Key, and Tayvion Robinson, it should be tough for even SEC teams to cover them. But to this point, Group of Five teams and an FCS opponent have shut down two of the three almost completely it seems. With the exception of Ray Davis, there are also some major questions in the running game.
Devin Leary has started to round into form, but it is obvious his best football is still ahead of him this season.
With a date against the Florida Gators looming large for next Saturday, going into Nashville and pouring it on the Commodores would be welcomed by the BBN.
Slow down AJ Swann and Will Sheppard
While the Dores have struggled on the defense end, the offense has been putting up big numbers thanks to quarter AJ Swann and wideout Will Sheppard.
Through four games, Swann has completed 76/133 passes (57.1%) for 1,101 yards and 11 touchdowns vs. four interceptions. Sheppard has hauled in 25 balls for 314 yards and six scores.
This duo has been solid to start the season for Vanderbilt and will be the two biggest threats for the Kentucky defense to slow down on Saturday.
This point will be short and simple.
Slow them down, and this game should be fairly easy.
Allow them to gain some steam and confidence, it could be another brawl until the very end.
Kentucky Wildcats (3-0) vs. Vanderbilt Commodores (2-2)
Time & Date: 12 p.m. EST on September 23, 2023
Location: FirstBank Stadium in Nashville, TN
TV Channel: SEC Network
Announcers: Taylor Zarzour, Matt Stinchcomb, and Alyssa Lang will call the action.
Radio: UK Sports Network with Tom Leach and Jeff Piecoro.
Predictions: DRatings.com projects a 31-22 win for the Cats. I’m going with a 38-21 victory, Kentucky!
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.