How Kentucky and Missouri match up

mstory@herald-leader.comNovember 8, 2013 

ukVas

UK quarterback Jalen Whitlow throws a pass in the third quarter. The University of Kentucky Football team hosted Alabama State, Saturday, Nov. 02, 2013 at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington. Photo by Jonathan Palmer

JONATHAN PALMER

How Kentucky and Missouri match up position by position for Saturday's game at Commonwealth Stadium:

QUARTERBACKS

Jalen Whitlow became the first UK quarterback since 2004 (Shane Boyd) to run for two TDs and pass for two scores in a game last week against Alabama State. On the season, the true sophomore has thrown only one interception — which figures to be tested against a Missouri secondary with 17 picks. Mizzou's James Franklin (1,577 passing yards; 67.7 completion percentage; 14 TD passes vs. three interceptions) could return Saturday after missing three games with a shoulder injury. In his absence, redshirt freshman Maty Mauk has been dynamic (more than 100 yards rushing and passing against Tennessee) though not especially accurate (48.9 percent completions) as a passer.

Advantage: Missouri

RUNNING BACKS

UK's Jojo Kemp has scored touchdowns in the past two games. With 390 rushing yards, the true freshman from Deland, Fla., narrowly leads senior Raymond Sanders (370) for the Kentucky team lead. Missouri has a stable of capable backs that includes junior Henry Josey (647 yards), sophomore Russell Hansbrough (510) and junior Marcus Murphy (454).

Advantage: Missouri

WIDE RECEIVERS

With Alexander Montgomery (torn ACL) definitely out and Ryan Timmons (sprained ankle) questionable, Kentucky needs production from juniors Javess Blue (team-best 28 receptions) and Demarco Robinson (four catches last week) and freshman Jeff Badet (four catches vs. Alabama State). Missouri senior L'Damian Washington is second in the SEC in TD receptions (nine). Senior Marcus Lucas (team-best 43 catches) and sophomore Dorial Green-Beckham (33 catches, five TDs) are also potent.

Advantage: Missouri

TIGHT ENDS

Junior-college transfer Steven Borden, UK's third-string tight end, caught his first career TD against Alabama State on a 38-yard pass from Jalen Whitlow. Missouri does not employ a regular tight end. "H receiver" Bud Sasser has 14 catches for 162 yards and has both caught and thrown (trick play vs. Georgia) a touchdown pass this year.

Advantage: Kentucky

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

After Zach Myers started UK's season opener at center, fellow redshirt freshman Jon Toth has started the past seven games for the Wildcats. Missouri senior tackle Justin Britt graded out at 94 percent against Tennessee with three pancake blocks and five knockdowns.

Advantage: Missouri

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

Kentucky junior defensive end Alvin "Bud" Dupree has at least one sack in each of the last six games (he missed the Alabama game with injury) in which he has played. Missouri senior defensive end Michael Sam is the current SEC leader in sacks (10) and tackles for loss (16) and a leading candidate for league defensive player of the year.

Advantage: Missouri

LINEBACKERS

After losing the Kentucky starting weakside-linebacker position to TraVaughn Paschal, sophomore Khalid Henderson has wrested it back and started the past three games. Against Alabama State, Henderson had five tackles and his first career sack. Missouri senior linebacker Andrew Wilson had 11 tackles in the Tigers' victory at Georgia and is tied for seventh in the league in stops (64).

Advantage: Missouri

SECONDARY

True sophomore Fred Tiller is coming on for Kentucky, following up a strong game at Mississippi State with two pass break-ups and a tackle for loss against Alabama State. Mizzou senior cornerback E.J. Gaines leads the SEC in interceptions (four); junior safety Braylon Webb is ninth in the conference with five pass breakups.

Advantage: Missouri

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kentucky place-kicker Joe Mansour has made 10 of 11 field goal attempts with a long of 45. Punter Landon Foster has gotten stronger as the season has gone on and averaged 49 yards on five kicks last week. The UK kickoff return game will get a boost if Javess Blue is back after missing last week with an eye injury. Missouri's Andrew Baggett is 13-for-19 on field goals (long of 44). Punter Christian Brinser is averaging 39.9 yards. Marcus Murphy is eighth in the league in kickoff returns and ninth in punt returns.

Advantage: Kentucky

Mark Story: (859) 231-3230. Email: mstory@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @markcstory. Blog: markstory.bloginky.com.

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