How Kentucky and Central Michigan match up for Saturday's UK football home opener:
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.
Advantage: Central Michigan
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.
There's nowhere to go but up — right? — for a Kentucky receiving corps whose play in the opener was dubbed "embarrassing" by Coach 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.
Advantage: Central Michigan
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.
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.
Luke McDermott (four tackles, one sack) was SEC co-Defensive Lineman of the Week after the Western game. 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.
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.
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.
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.