Darrell Bird, the editor of CatsPause.com, does a great job covering Kentucky and offers his insight into Saturday afternoon ‘s Bulldogs-Wildcats clash between the hedges.
TALK ABOUT THE JOB MARK STOOPS HAS DONE SINCE THE SLOW START TO LAST SEASON, TURNING KENTUCKY INTO ONE OF THE TOP TEAMS IN THE SEC EAST.
“Talk about the job Mark Stoops has done since the slow start to last season, turning Kentucky into one of the top teams in the SEC East.”
“Year four under Mark Stoops was supposed to be the turning point as his early recruiting classes were coming of age. Instead, UK opened 0-2 including a home loss to Southern Miss. But instead of folding, Kentucky is now 14-6 in regular season games from that point forward. It’s not sexy, but Stoops has simply plugged along with his core values – a strong running game to set up the passing game and a good defense, which has been the slowest component in the program’s development. To see it play out, look at stellar running back Benny Snell, a former three-star player from Stoops’ home state of Ohio. You find, you develop and, in time, you win.”
WHAT DOES KENTUCKY NEED TO DO TO BEAT GEORGIA?
“Kentucky’s 44-21 victory over Vanderbilt on Saturday was its most complete game of the season. In fact, it was the only time all year the Wildcats were able to put it all together and squash an opponent. With all that said, Kentucky will have to be that good and much more win between the hedges. If UK can’t stop Georgia’s rushing attack, Benny Snell never sees the field.”
BENNY SNELL JR. IS AN EXCELLENT RUNNING BACK, WHAT IS YOUR FORECAST FOR HOW GOOD HE CAN BE AND WHAT HE MEANS TO THE PROGRAM?
“Benny Snell is the only player in Kentucky football history to have back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons. You can judge whether that’s a compliment to Snell or an indictment of Kentucky football through the years. Snell is going to get better and better because of his will to be the best. I’ve never met anyone who genuinely gets angry when somebody tackles him. Stoops frequently has to slow him down in practice.”
WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON GEORGIA?
“Saturday is either going to be one of the greatest days for Stoops’ Kentucky career or one of the worst. Will former No. 1 Georgia be so angry that it crushes the next team it sees or will the Bulldogs still be reeling from such a jarring upset that it will take more than a week to recover? The name Kentucky doesn’t bring much clout in football, and that could be to UK’s advantage.”
OK, IT’S BIG BLUE, GOTTA TALK SOME HOOPS, HOW GOOD IS THIS TEAM GOING TO BE THIS YEAR, AND IS THE FRESHMEN FIVE STAR RELOAD STRESSFUL FOR THE KENTUCKY FAITHFUL?
“Kentucky is going to be really good, but it may take longer for the team to hit its stride than any club since 2011 when UK lost six SEC games before catching fire for a run all the way to the NCAA Final Four. Eight freshmen dot a roster that returns only 7 percent of its scoring and two of those are injured so UK fans had better brace for a bumpy road through December and January. As for fan stress with the constant roster turnover, they have no choice but to adjust. John Calipari ain’t changing.”
WHAT ARE SOME THINGS YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE DONE DIFFERENTLY IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL?
“I would like to see the game more closely aligned to NFL rules, specifically in regards to overtime and pass interference. The college overtime is much like soccer’s shootout. We’ll play the whole game one way and then change to determine a winner. It’s exciting but makes no sense.”
WHAT IS YOUR SCORE PREDICTION FOR THE BULLDOGS AND WILDCATS?
“If Georgia is angry, the Bulldogs win 44-17. If they are still woozy from that knockout punch, then Kentucky escapes with a 28-27 stunner. I suspect we’ll know after the first drive.”
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