How Kentucky and Alabama State match up position by position for Saturday night's game at Commonwealth Stadium:
Jalen Whitlow is expected to return as the Kentucky starter after recovering from an ankle sprain suffered against Alabama. If the dual-threat sophomore cannot go or is again injured, Mark Stoops indicated that true freshman Reese Phillips could get the call over Maxwell Smith. Alabama State has had injury issues at quarterback, too, with its third-string QB Quinteris Toppings, leading an overtime victory over Prairie View A&M. Regular starter Daniel Duhart (57.3 completion percentage, 1,307 yards passing with 12 touchdowns and only two picks) is back.
Never miss a local story.
Senior Raymond Sanders has run with determination in the past two games (158 rushing yards combined). True freshman Jojo Kemp rushed for 63 yards at Mississippi State and scored his first college touchdown. Alabama State star Isaiah Crowell has been slowed by an ankle injury the past two games. Before that, the ex-Georgia standout had run for 129 yards or more in four straight games. His backup, Malcolm Cyrus, ran for 241 yards against Prairie View A&M and 138 last week vs. Alabama A&M.
Advantage: Alabama State
Franklin County product Ryan Timmons took a bubble screen 51 yards for a touchdown at Mississippi State. With 25 catches, the true freshman trails only junior-college transfer Javess Blue (28) for the Kentucky team lead. Diminutive (5-foot-8, 160 pounds) Earl Lucas, a transfer from Arkansas State, is Alabama State's most dangerous wide-out with team-best totals of 36 catches and three touchdown receptions.
Kentucky senior Jordan Aumiller set a career high with four catches (28 yards) at Mississippi State. Alabama State senior Justin Robinson is averaging 19.1 yards on his nine catches this season. He suffered a knee injury against Alabama A&M; his backup is redshirt freshman Brandon Barnes.
Kentucky tackles Darrian Miller and Jordan Swindle should be key performers against an Alabama State defense that comes into the game with a whopping 38 sacks. Alabama State senior center Edmond Davis is a four-year starter who makes all the line calls for the Hornets.
Kentucky junior defensive end Alvin "Bud" Dupree returned from the strained pectoral muscle that kept him out of the Alabama game to record 13 tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack at Mississippi State. Alabama State defense tackle Derrick Billups had three tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss and a forced fumble that he recovered in the Hornets' victory over Alabama A&M.
UK middle linebacker Avery Williamson has regained the SEC tackles lead with 74 (an average of 10.6 a game). Alabama State MLB Kourtney Berry is the Hornets' leading tackler with 70. He also has nine tackles for loss, five sacks, two fumble recoveries and an interception. Strong-side linebacker Leland Baker had 17 tackles against Prairie View A&M.
Advantage: Alabama State
Cornerback Fred Tiller had nine tackles, including two tackles for loss, at Mississippi State and has moved ahead of Cody Quinn on the UK depth chart. Alabama State cornerback Nick Martin has 11 pass break-ups, and free safety Najee Bright has two interceptions.
UK place-kicker Joe Mansour is 8-for-9 on field goals this season, and hit from 44 and 45 yards at Mississippi State. Punter Landon Foster (42.1 yards a punt) has been better in the middle of the season than early. Javess Blue (23.8 yards) is seventh in the SEC in kickoff returns. Alabama State's Bobby Wenzig is averaging 42.1 yards a punt. He is 8-for-13 on field goals, while freshman Alex Louthan is 2-for-6. Myles Everett is a dangerous return man on both kicks and punts.