Kentucky vs. Georgia: Keys to Saturday's game

mstory@herald-leader.comOctober 19, 2012 

Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Jalen Whitlow (13) looks to make a pass during the first half of a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, Ark., on Oct.. 13, 2012. Photo by Beth Hall

BETH HALL

Keys to Saturday's Kentucky football game against Georgia at Commonwealth Stadium:

THE GAME

No. 12 Georgia (5-1, 3-1 SEC) at Kentucky (1-6, 0-4 SEC)

When: 7 p.m.

Where: Commonwealth Stadium

TV: Fox Sports South

Radio: WLAP-AM 630, WBUL-FM 98.1, Sirius Channel 92, XM Channel 200

Series: Georgia leads 51-12-2

Last meeting: Georgia won 19-10 on Nov. 19, 2011, in Athens, Ga.

Line: Georgia is favored by 26 points.

THE KEYS

1. Establish the pass

UK true freshman quarterback Jalen Whitlow is hitting 41.7 percent of his passes. Since Maxwell Smith's last healthy game against Western Kentucky, Kentucky has not passed for more than 144 yards (Mississippi State) in any game. Simply put, the Cats have to establish some threat of an air attack or they are going to face nine men in the box for the rest of the season.

2. Force some turnovers

Among many defensive sins in 2012, Kentucky has not shown the ability to take. The Cats have recovered five fumbles all season and have intercepted only two passes in seven games. To have any shot against a Georgia offense that is second in the SEC in scoring (41.3 points a game) and total yards (484), UK needs to make some steals.

3. Channel the recent past

For whatever reason — and my theory is because Kentucky has had so many players on its roster from the state of Georgia (there are 23 in 2012) — UK has played the Bulldogs tough in recent years. Kentucky beat Georgia in 2006 and 2009 and fought the Dawgs ferociously in 2008 and 2011. Can UK summon that past and turn in a respectable effort in 2012?

THE MOOD

Is more sour than spoiled milk. Decimated by injuries, Kentucky was not competitive at Arkansas, and the 49-7 shellacking the Cats took in a game called by bad weather in the third period has turned the heat beneath Joker Phillips' coaching seat up to industrial-furnace level. Amidst rampaging negativity, do the Cats have any hope of putting up a fight for Phillips down the stretch?

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