How Kentucky and Miami (Ohio) match up for UK's home opener at noon Saturday in Commonwealth Stadium:
Maxwell Smith came off the bench for UK in the fourth quarter against Western Kentucky and completed eight of 13 passes for 125 yards while leading two scoring drives. That was enough for the redshirt sophomore from Granada Hills, Calif., to claim the No. 1 QB position away from first-game starter Jalen Whitlow. Miami's season-opening 52-14 loss to Marshall was the first time in five career starts that RedHawks quarterback Austin Boucher lost. The redshirt senior threw for 165 yards and a touchdown against Marshall. He was 9-for-12 passing in the first half, but only 1-for-10 in the second.
Raymond Sanders got his senior season off to a solid start against WKU, running for 98 yards on 14 carries. Don't be surprised if you see more of UK true freshman Jojo Kemp this week. Spencer Treadwell, the son of Miami head coach Don Treadwell, is the RedHawks' first-string tailback. The 5-foot-10, 205-pound redshirt sophomore ran for 15 yards on five carries with a 2-yard TD run at Marshall.
Junior Demarco Robinson led UK receivers (five catches, 69 yards) against Western and caught his first career touchdown. True freshman Ryan Timmons, the ex-Franklin County star, is listed ahead of Daryl Collins on this week's Kentucky depth chart. Miami redshirt freshman Rokeem Williams had three receptions for a team-best 77 yards against Marshall.
After Teven Eatmon-Nared made the opening-game start at left guard, former Lexington Christian standout Zach West has reclaimed the starting job for UK. Another former Lexington high school product, ex-Bryan Station star Darrian Miller, drew praise from Mark Stoops for his play at left tackle against WKU. Miami starting left guard Trevan Brown is a 6-foot-4, 287-pound redshirt sophomore from Boone County. The RedHawks gave up only one sack against Marshall.
UK senior Anthony Kendrick doubled his career reception total by catching three passes (56 yards) against WKU. He remains No. 2 on the Cats depth chart behind fellow senior Jordan Aumiller. Miami's Steve Marck matched his career-best performance with four catches (41 yards) against Marshall, including his second career touchdown reception.
Expected to be the strength of the UK team, the Wildcats veteran defensive front disappointed against Western Kentucky. Junior-college transfer Za'Darius Smith, a prized Mark Stoops' defensive end recruit, did record five tackles and his first career sack. Miami defensive end J'Terius Brown, a redshirt freshman from Milledgeville, Ga., had 3.5 tackles for loss, which included a quarterback sack, against Marshall.
Kentucky senior Avery Williamson had 14 tackles (his ninth career double-digit tackle game) and a fumble recovery in the opener. UK coaches have elevated converted defensive end TraVaughn Paschal over Khalid Henderson at weakside linebacker. Miami's Kent Kern, a sophomore from Toledo, had a career-best 13 tackles from the middle linebacker spot against Marshall.
Kentucky's defensive backfield struggled against WKU, allowing 27-for-34 passing for 271 yards — and that could have been worse if Western receivers had not dropped at least three potentially easy catches. In his first game back after suffering serious injuries in an off-season traffic accident, UK safety Ashely Lowery had six tackles. Miami's secondary struggled, too, last week giving up five TD passes at Marshall. Safety Jay Mastin had 12 tackles and an interception for the RedHawks. Senior cornerback Dayonne Nunley played well last year (three interceptions, four tackles for loss) and had three pass breakups last week.
In his first go as UK place-kicker, senior Joe Mansour drilled two short field-goal tries (22, 30) but missed a crucial fourth-quarter extra point. Demarco Robinson put some juice into the UK return game, averaging 24.7 yards on three kickoffs and 27.0 on two punts. Miami sophomore place-kicker Kaleb Patterson was a weapon last year, converting 15 of 18 field goal attempts, including five of six from 40-49 yards. Punter Zac Murphy had a stellar performance last Saturday, averaging 50.2 yards on nine kicks.
Mark Story: (859) 231-3230. Twitter: @markcstory. Blog: markstory.bloginky.com.