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Central Michigan-Kentucky matchups

Kentucky's Winston Guy (21) intercepted a Kawaun Jakes pass against Western Kentucky last week. UK's hybrid safety/linebacker also had 10 tackles in the opener.
Kentucky's Winston Guy (21) intercepted a Kawaun Jakes pass against Western Kentucky last week. UK's hybrid safety/linebacker also had 10 tackles in the opener.

Saturday, September 10, 2011 Lexington Herald-Leader | kentucky.com

Lexington Herald-Leader | kentucky.com Saturday, September 10, 2011

Who has the advantage?

Quarterbacks

Morgan Newton struggled (7-for-18, 97 yards with three interceptions) against Western Kentucky but didn't get much help from the Kentucky line or receivers. Central Michigan's Ryan Radcliff threw for 3,358 yards last season but had as many picks (17) as touchdown passes. He opened the 2011 season last week with two more of each.

Running backs

True freshman Josh Clemons led Kentucky in game one with 39 yards rushing and a 14-yard touchdown run. Sophomore Raymond Sanders started for UK and ran for 35. Central Michigan's Zurlon Tipton (73 yards, a touchdown) was the offensive star of the Chippewas' victory over South Carolina State. Ex-Trinity High star Tim Phillips ran for 25 yards in that one.

Wide receivers

There's nowhere to go but up — right? — for a Kentucky receiving corps whose play in the opener was dubbed "embarrassing" by Joker Phillips. La'Rod King did catch a game-sealing 31-yard TD pass against WKU. Central Michigan's Cody Wilson had 1,137 yards receiving last season and caught four balls for 53 yards and a touchdown last week.

Tight ends

Kentucky's tight ends (primarily Jordan Aumiller and Nick Melillo) caught no passes in the season opener. The return of Tyler Robinson from injury should provide a blocking boost for the Cats. Central Michigan starter David Blackburn caught 22 passes for three touchdowns in 2010.

Offensive line

The veteran Kentucky offensive line that was expected to be the strength of the 2011 Cats was humbled (three sacks allowed; UK held to 93 yards rushing) by WKU. With the return of tackle Jake Olson from injury, Central Michigan has four players on its offensive front with extensive starting experience.

Defensive line

Luke McDermott (four tackles, one sack) was SEC co-Defensive Lineman of the Week after Western. Joker Phillips said sophomore tackle Donte Rumph played as well against WKU as any Kentucky interior lineman in a long time. Central Michigan's defensive line struggled in 2010, but tackle Steve Winston had seven tackles, a tackle for a loss, half a QB sack and a hurry against South Carolina State.

Linebackers

Danny Trevathan is so good, no one even commented on the 13 tackles he made against WKU. It was his 10th straight double-figures tackling game. Ronnie Sneed (10 tackles) was strong in the middle for UK, too. Central Michigan lost standout linebackers Nick Bellore and Matt Berning from last season's team.

Secondary

Hybrid safety/linebacker Winston Guy (10 tackles, 2.5 for loss, two interceptions) starred against WKU. Converted cornerback Martavius Neloms delivered some big hits at safety. The Wildcats' corners will get a better test against Central Michigan's passing attack than WKU's limited air game. Strong safety Jahleel Addae leads a CMU secondary that surrendered only 78 passing yards in the opener.

Special teams

Punter Ryan Tydlacka (47.1 on seven punts) was one of Kentucky's stars in the opener. UK's punt coverage was solid, but punt returning without Randall Cobb was shaky. Central Michigan punter Richie Hogan was strong (42.1 on eight kicks) in week one, but place-kicker David Harman missed a 37-yard field-goal try. Return man Zurlon Tipton (33 yards average on three kickoffs) is dangerous.

Mark Story

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