UK Football

Mark Story: Three key questions about Kentucky's opener vs. Louisiana-Lafayette

Louisiana Lafayette running back Elijah McGuire runs for yardage during the first half of an NCAA college football game against New Mexico State in Las Cruces, N.M., Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)
Louisiana Lafayette running back Elijah McGuire runs for yardage during the first half of an NCAA college football game against New Mexico State in Las Cruces, N.M., Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton) AP

1. Will UK start fast?

Amidst the hubbub surrounding the first game in the renovated Commonwealth Stadium, it would behoove UK to overcome any distractions and get off to a quick start. Louisiana-Lafayette has a new defensive coaching staff and could have some early kinks to work out. A fast UK beginning would also put pressure on the Ragin' Cajuns' new starting quarterback whether it turns out to be Brooks Haack or Jalen Nixon.

2. Can UK slow down Elijah McGuire?

Louisiana-Lafayette Coach Mark Hudspeth says running back Elijah McGuire "is as good a player as I've ever coached." Last year, the 5-foot-11, 208-pound junior ran for 1,264 yards and 14 touchdowns and led UL-L in pass receptions (45). For a Kentucky defense that has allowed an average of more than 190 yards a game rushing in Mark Stoops' first two seasons as coach, McGuire is a stout opening-game challenge.

3. Will fans successfully navigate the "new Commonwealth Stadium?"

Long-standing Commonwealth parking and seating patterns have been disrupted in the renovation. Since it figures to take some time for everyone to re-learn their way around, UK officials are pleading for fans to come early Saturday. If traffic, parking and other issues creates stress, the best way to mollify the ticket-buying public is for the Kentucky team to look good.

The mood

Is hopeful. To get year three of the Mark Stoops era off to a buzz-building start, an impressive victory over a Sun Belt Conference foe — albeit a quality program with a good head coach — is not an unreasonable hope.

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