During most of the Rich Brooks era, the Kentucky defense has fared better against traditional, I-formation offenses than the up-tempo, spread-style attacks.
UK defensive coordinator Steve Brown's unit will have to be on its toes Saturday night. Not only is Auburn leading the Southeastern Conference in total offense, but it also runs a lot of the same misdirection plays out of the shotgun that have befuddled the Cats against Florida.
The Tigers have the SEC's leading rusher in Ben Tate and one of the conference's top passers in Chris Todd. Auburn's 489.8 yards per game average is 3 yards more than top-ranked Florida's.
"They're No. 1 in the league in total offense for a reason," Brooks said. "They give you a lot of different looks, they give you misdirection, snap the ball faster than anybody in the league. It's going to be a major challenge for our defense."
Auburn often operates without a huddle, adding to the possibility of defensive confusion. Brown said if you allow the Tigers to get in rhythm, you're in trouble.
"Fatigue will set in, and then you don't quite read your assignment and, all of a sudden, you give up a big play," Brown said. "Our guys have to get set fast, read, stay poised and make the play."
Cats get two more commitments
Kentucky picked up two commitments for its 2010 class this week: Eric Simmons, a 6-foot, 185-pound defensive back from Atlanta; and Ryan Smith, a 6-2, 195-pound athlete from Cordova, Ala.
Simmons, who is not ranked by either Rivals.com or Scout.com, had offers from New Mexico and Middle Tennessee. He visited Lexington for UK's 38-20 loss to No. 2 Alabama on Oct. 3.
Smith, a three-star prospect, selected UK over offers from Vanderbilt, Southern Mississippi and Louisville.
Kentucky now has 13 known commitments for 2010: Smith, Simmons, South Carolina defensive end Justin Henderson, Tennessee defensive lineman Tim McAdoo, Ohio teammates Tyler Brause (QB) and Teven Eatman (TE), junior-college defensive backs Josh Gibbs and Mychal Bailey, Hopkinsville linebacker Malcolm McDuffen, Tennessee tight end Tyler Robinson and LaGrange kicker Joseph Mansour, Alabama safety Davin Hawkins and Georgia running back Raymond Sanders.
UK lost top reserve offensive lineman Jake Lanefski for the season to a knee injury this week in practice, forcing Brooks to do some shuffling among his second-string line. Lanefski served as a backup to center Jorge Gonzalez and could fill either guard spot.
True freshman Larry Warford will become more of a factor at guard along with redshirt freshmen Sean Stackhouse and Trevino Woods. Starting right guard Stuart Hines has also been working at left guard, where Lanefski was listed No. 2 behind Christian Johnson.
"That was a big loss," Brooks said. "Lanefski did a lot for our football team."
Smith back in the mix
Senior tailback Alfonso Smith was limited to special teams last week because of a sprained thumb, but Brooks said Smith will be back in the offensive package this week. The coaches were worried about Smith's ball security because of the injury.
"It's still bothersome," Brooks said of Smith's injury. "He practiced in a splint instead of a cast this week. We'll give him some carries and see how it does, and I'll cross my fingers."
Big Blue Meter
We could see the start of a new era in Wildcats football on Saturday night. With starting quarterback Mike Hartline out at least a month and possibly longer, Brooks will be breaking in a new quarterback in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Brooks didn't announce the starter during the week, and no one will know for sure until the UK offense trots out on the field for the first time. But don't be surprised if Brooks turns to Morgan Newton, the highly touted freshman from Carmel, Ind. Newton and fellow freshman Ryan Mossakowski are viewed as the future of the QB position at UK. And while Newton would be making his debut under tough circumstances on the road in an SEC game, the fact that he might see the field has generated more excitement than at any other point in the 2009 season.