Keys for UK to beat Arkansas

October 12, 2012 

  • Tennessee at Kentucky

    When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30

    TV: ESPNU

    Records: Kentucky 2-9 (0-7 SEC); Tennessee 4-7 (1-6)

Kentucky (1-5, 0-3 SEC) at Arkansas (2-4, 1-2 SEC)

When: 7 p.m. TV: Fox Sports Network

Where: Fayetteville, Ark.

Radio: WLAP-AM 630, WBUL-FM 98.1, Sirius Channel 134, XM Channel 200

Series: Kentucky leads 4-2

Last meeting: Kentucky won 21-20 on Oct. 18, 2008, in Commonwealth Stadium.

Line: Arkansas is favored by 17.5 points.

THE KEYS

1. Establish a passing threat

Unlike in 2009, when Kentucky survived and even thrived after Mike Hartline was sidelined by injury and the Cats had little passing attack, there are no Randall Cobb and Derrick Locke to carry mail on the ground in 2012. With “throwing quarterbacks” Maxwell Smith and Patrick Towles both injured, Kentucky needs Jalen Whitlow to create at least a viable threat through the air. So far in limited action he has not done so; Whitlow is completing only 46 percent of his passes (23-of-50 with two interceptions).

2. Child-safety seats on team plane?

It is not true that UK has replaced sports drinks with baby formula in its sideline coolers, but the team Kentucky is taking to Arkansas is one of the youngest in modern school history. Not counting specialists, there are 13 true freshmen listed on Kentucky’s depth chart this week. The Kiddie Cats will start a true frosh at quarterback and will have five secondary players just out of high school slated to play against one of the SEC’s best quarterbacks. To have any shot at an upset win, the young players will have to handle the Woo Pig Sooey atmosphere.

3. Slow down Tyler Wilson

The Arkansas senior quarterback leads the SEC in passing yards a game (317). Though his completion percentage (58) is not exceptionally high, Wilson presents a stout challenge for Kentucky and its youthful secondary. The best protection for the UK defensive backfield would be pressure on Wilson, but Arkansas has allowed only eight sacks in six games so far this season.

THE MOOD

Is dark. Kentucky took the redshirt off home-state hero Patrick Towles last week, only to see the true freshman quarterback sidelined by a high ankle sprain on his third series of play. Other than Towles, the only other UK football topic that generates much public buzz right now is the job status of UK head coach Joker Phillips. Getting out of the negativity in Lexington might actually be good for Kentucky. Historically, the Cats have played Arkansas well and have won four out of the last five games with the Hogs.

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