How Kentucky and Ohio University match up for Saturday's game at Commonwealth Stadium:
Patrick Towles got rave reviews for his first game as the Kentucky starter. The redshirt sophomore completed 20 of 29 passes for 377 yards with a touchdown and also ran for a TD. Ohio's Derrius Vick, a redshirt junior, made his second career start in last week's opening win at Kent State. Vick, a 6-foot-1, 196-pound product of Lincoln, Neb., played well, completing 18 of 24 passes for 262 yards with two TDs. A dual-threat, Vick had a crucial first-down run on a third-and-7 in what became the game-winning drive for Ohio.
Kentucky's much-hyped stable of running backs looked as good as advertised vs. Tennessee-Martin. Nebraska transfer Braylon Heard gained 116 yards and scored two TDs on two carries. Will his sprained ankle allow him to play this week? Powerful true freshman Mikel Horton ran for 45 yards and two scores. Ohio's Daz'mond Patterson had 61 yards rushing and 48 yards in receptions vs. Kent State. However, Patterson lost two fumbles, one of three Ohio running backs who lost at least one fumble last week.
Sophomore Ryan Timmons, the ex-Franklin County star, turned three catches into 75 yards for Kentucky last week. True freshmen Dorian Baker (three catches), Garrett Johnson (three catches), Blake Bone (two catches, one TD) and T.V. Williams (two catches) showed promise for UK. Ohio's Landon Smith caught seven passes for 71 yards at Kent State and scored both of the Bobcats' touchdowns.
UK's Steven Borden matched his reception total (three) for all of 2013 last week, while Ronnie Shields (two catches) doubled his 2013 total. Ohio's Troy Mangen caught two passes last week. As a true freshman in 2013, he started four games and had four catches.
Kentucky redshirt sophomore center Jon Toth was named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week for his play against UT-Martin. The 6-foot-5, 301-pound Indianapolis product graded at 91 percent and had three knockdown blocks. After a one-game suspension, left tackle Darrian Miller returns. That allows Jordan Swindle to shift back from left tackle to his normal spot at right tackle. Ohio's strength is on its left side, where tackle Mike McQueen was credited with 17 pancake blocks in 2013 and guard Mike Lucas was named 2014 pre-season All-Mid-American Conference Fourth Team by Phil Steele.
All the preseason attention was on Kentucky ends Alvin "Bud" Dupree and Za'Darius Smith, but all three of UK's sacks last week came from defensive tackles Reggie Meant (two) and Mike Douglas (one). Ohio returns all four of its starters from a year ago. Sophomore end Tarell Basham recorded 7.5 sacks in 2013; he had half a sack last week. Senior end Kendric Smith had two tackles for loss at Kent State.
Challenged for playing time at weak-side linebacker by the arrival of junior-college transfer Ryan Flannigan, UK junior Khalid Henderson made a team-high eight tackles and returned a fumble 89 yards for a touchdown last week. Ohio Coach Frank Solich believes the 2014 Bobcats linebackers run better than any group he's had in 10 years at the school. Weak-side linebacker Jovon Johnson had a team-best 11 tackles and strong-side linebacker Quentin Poling had a sack in the opener.
Kentucky junior-college-transfer safety A.J. Stamps (eight tackles, one tackle for loss, a highlight reel interception) looked like a budding star last week. UK true freshman Kendall Randolph had a busy stat line — four tackles, two quarterback hurries, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Ohio's Devin Bass, a junior cornerback, was a second-team All-MAC selection in 2013 and had seven tackles last week.
New UK place-kicker Austin MacGinnis was 1-for-2 last week on field goals, hitting a 20-yard chip shot but missing from 41 yards. Punter Landon Foster only kicked once vs. UT-Martin, but it was a 46-yarder. Ohio place-kicker Josiah Yazdani hit a walk-off, 44-yard field goal as time expired to lift Ohio over Kent State 17-14 last week. For his career, Yazdani is 15-for-16 on field goals and has never missed a PAT. Punter Mitch Bonnstetter averaged 42.5 yards on four kicks last week and had a 56-yarder.
Kentucky 42, Ohio 21