How Kentucky and Louisville match up for Saturday's game at Commonwealth Stadium:
Last week against Miami (Ohio), Kentucky's two-quarterback approach using both pocket passer Maxwell Smith (15-for-23 for 310 yards, three TDs) and dual-threat Jalen Whitlow (48 yards and a TD rushing; 10-for-12 for 103 yards passing) was effective. Will it work against a top-10 foe? Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater is completing 76.1 percent of his passes, has nine TD passes vs. one interception and is considered the favorite to be the No. 1 overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Diminutive UK senior Raymond Sanders (6.8 yards a carry) and true freshman Jojo Kemp (12 carries, 78 yards last week) give the Wildcats a legitimate ground threat. Louisville's stable of backs is so deep that Dominique Brown (who ran for 91 yards against UK two years ago) is third string. Michael Dyer, the Auburn transfer who was MOP of the Tigers' BCS Championship Game victory three seasons ago, is second string. Senorise Perry, who ran for 108 yards against UK in 2012, is the starter.
Junior-college transfer Javess Blue (six catches, 114 yards) and true freshmen Ryan Timmons (37 yards rushing; 55 yards receiving) and Jeff Badet (three catches, a 56-yard TD) gave the UK passing game juice against Miami. Louisville's receiving corps is deep — five wide-outs with between five and nine catches — and talented. Ex-Ballard star DeVante Parker is averaging 23 yards on his nine receptions.
Kentucky senior Anthony Kendrick had caught three passes in his college career before 2013; he already has five receptions this season. Louisville's Gerald Christian, a transfer from Florida, is emerging as another viable U of L weapon with seven catches.
Kentucky senior right guard Kevin Mitchell, who started at tackle last season, is the reigning SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week after recording nine knockdown blocks against Miami. Louisville's Jamon Brown, an ex-Fern Creek standout, has moved from right to left tackle this season. The U of L front came in for some criticism after the Cardinals ran for only 78 yards against Eastern Kentucky but the Cards have allowed only one sack so far.
UK end Za'Darius Smith had six tackles and three sacks in the first half against Miami, then sat out the second. His running mate at end, Alvin "Bud" Dupree, had seven tackles and a sack last week. Louisville nose tackle Brandon Dunn, a one-time UK verbal commitment, has nine tackles. Defensive tackle Roy Philon, a Bryan Station product, has five.
UK weakside linebacker TraVaughn Paschal, a converted defensive end, had seven tackles, including one for loss, against Miami in his first start. Louisville senior middle linebacker Preston Brown had 13 tackles against Florida in last season's Sugar Bowl. He leads the Cardinals with 17 stops this season.
Kentucky cornerbacks Nate Willis, a junior-college transfer, and Fred Tiller figure to be severely tested by U of L. Cody Quinn, projected to be a starter at corner in the pre-season, should be close to full speed after missing time with an ankle injury. Louisville free safety Calvin Pryor decimated EKU with eight tackles, a forced fumble, a 26-yard interception return and 22 return yards following a lateraled fumble recovery.
Kentucky senior place-kicker Joe Mansour is 4-for-4 on short field goal tries, but missed a crucial extra point against WKU. After Demarco Robinson was injured last week, Kentucky's punt return game was an adventure — and not in a good way. Louisville's John Wallace is 3-for-3 on field goal tries and punter Ryan Johnson is averaging a booming 46.8 yards; however U of L has struggled against kickoff returns (allowing 27.3 yards).
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