The young Kentucky Wildcats grew up a little last week. UK trailed Central Michigan by a touchdown in the middle of the third quarter and looked to be doomed to a disastrous loss.
Instead, the Cats came up with a huge fourth down stop and one play later Morgan Newton and La’Rod King connected on a 39 yard TD strike. Suddenly a team with some advanced hype began to show signs of living up to it.
Still, a win over CMU doesn’t strike fear in the hearts of Florida and Georgia but the way they turned around their level play so quickly did alleviate some fear within the program that this team was in fact better than they showed in the first game and a half of the season.
That fourth down stop is unquestionably the play of the year so far and perhaps it saved the season for UK. The Cats have little margin for error and a loss last Saturday would have made a bowl appearance difficult to imagine. A loss to Louisville this week would have the same impact.
While it’s the not the Iron Bowl this match-up is intense and nasty. UK has won four in a row against Louisville and anything less than a fifth and Joker Phillips will hear about it big time.
Phillips said on Monday that the Cardinals’ dare teams to throw on them and that’s exactly what Kentucky will try to do. Despite a dozen dropped passes in the first two games, the Cats have had some success throwing deep so expect the Cats to challenge the Cardinal secondary on Saturday.
Freshman Josh Clemons and Raymond Sanders will try to provide some balance. The tandem combined for nearly two hundred yards last week. Clemens had an 87 yard TD run. His 126 yard performance made him the SEC’s Co-Freshman of the Week.
The biggest issue for the Blue has been a banged up offensive line. It’s not getting much better. Matt Smith and Billy Jo Murphy didn’t practice on Monday. Because of the injuries, Phillips has had use tight ends to block rather than catch passes.
The Cats opened as a touchdown favorite and I expect them to cover against Cardinals who have their own set of problems after a loss last Friday at home against Florida International. The kickoff is set for 7:00 and will be televised by ESPNU.
Larry Glover hosts Larry Glover Live weeknights from 6-8pm on 590, WVLK in Lexington and on statewide television on the Wazoo Sports Network. The show is available for download on his website www.larrygloverlive.com