Posted: 4:04 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013
By Glenn Logan
The Wildcats and Cardinals meet for the 20th time this year.
It's Rivalry Week in the Bluegrass State. The excitement over the latest chapter in the ‘Cats vs. the Cards series has been accompanied by less enthusiasm than usual. The reason? Louisville is ranked #7 in the country and the team is led on offense by the leader of the Heisman race. Kentucky is in rebuilding mode after a disastrous tenure and some of the best players for the Wildcats are either freshmen or are first year Division one players from a JUCO. On paper this game looks to be a beat down just waiting to happen.
But let's not let these facts get in the way of optimism. The old adages of "Anything can happen on any given Saturday" and "Rivalry games are unpredictable" still hold true. Kentucky can beat Louisville. Is it going to be easy? Absolutely not. Is it likely? Not really. But victory is possible and there are ways that it can happen and I am here to lay out the blue print for victory.
Keep it going with the Dual QB System-I never thought that I would say this but the sharing of duties at the quarterback position seemed to have worked quite well on Saturday. Maxwell Smith played the part of passer (310 yards, 3 touchdowns) and Jalen Whitlow played the part of Wildcard (103 yards passing, 48 rushing yards with a touchdown). This should keep the Cardinals guessing as to which one will be on the field next as Neal Brown did not seem to sub with any set rhyme or reason. Miami (OH) looked confused and couldn't get set on defense properly with the rotating quarterbacks. Kentucky must do this to Louisville in order to wear them out.
Play Fast, Be Aggressive- The Wildcats didn't play to win against Western Kentucky, they played not to lose. The play calling was conservative and the offense was Air Raid in name only as the running game took precedence. Against Miami (OH), Neal Brown some nice tricks out of his play book. The ‘Cats had 27 first downs, 413 passing yards, 262 rushing yards and kept the pace so frantic that the Redhawks had a hard time keeping up. The result was a 41 point performance and the coming out party for the offense. This same offensive philosophy must be embraced against Louisville. They won't be able to stop the Cards from scoring, so they better make it a shootout and outscore them instead.
Be Disciplined- 11 penalties for 117 yards were the stats for last Saturday and that won't cut it against Louisville. The more opportunities they give the Cardinals, the worse it's going to be in the end. The offense has to stay on the field and have as many short yardage opportunities as possible. The defense cannot allow Teddy Bridgewater second and third chances due to boneheaded celebration penalties (I'm looking at you Big Z and Bud). Kentucky has to be composed and they must not beat themselves.
Rock Teddy's World- This is no easy task. Teddy Bridgewater is as cool as they come and he doesn't get flustered easily: please see as exhibit A. If Kentucky wants to stand a chance at slowing down the offense then getting to the quarterback is going to be imperative. Bridgewater could have a field day shredding the Kentucky secondary if left unmolested. Za'Darius Smith is leading the nation in sacks with four in two games. Louisville does have question marks on the offensive line and any weaknesses that they have must be exploited. Two starters from last season are gone and the Cards are starting a senior, two juniors and a sophomore on the line. So far the running game hasn't been impressive for the Cards. Then again, WKU was able to run the ball on Kentucky with ease.
The Youth Movement Needs to Move Forward- The future is bright for Kentucky with all of the young guys making big plays but the future has to be now. Some of the top performers from the Miami (OH) game were freshmen or guys that Stoops brought in during the off-season. Jojo Kemp led all rushers with 78 yards. Javess Blue had 114 yards receiving including an 88 yard touchdown catch. Ryan Timmons had four rushes for 37 yards and 5 receptions for 44 yards. Jeff Badet had 3 receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown. Za'Darius Smith was the stand out on defense with three sacks. The Stoops effect is evident and it has to continue to improve. The young guys need to take the next step and become the focal point of the team. Their talent is closer to the caliber of talent that they will be facing on Saturday.
Be Loud Crowd- There was a large contingent of Big Blue last Saturday and the number needs to be greater for the game against the Cardinals. I know it's a noon kickoff and I know Kentucky is the underdog, but a rowdy Commonwealth atmosphere could throw Louisville off. This will be their first road game and will more than likely be the biggest crowd they will see all season. The Louisville contingent cannot be allowed to become vocal and loud. The Kentucky fans need to drown them out and show the Wildcats that they can be some of the best fans in the SEC.
That's a tall order for our boys in blue, but it's possible. What do the Wildcats need to do in order to win?
And just for memory and motivation: