How Kentucky and Vanderbilt match up for Saturday's game at Commonwealth Stadium:
Off to an encouraging start, Kentucky redshirt sophomore Patrick Towles is third in the SEC in passing yards per game (305.3). One area to watch: Towles is completing 58.1 percent of his passes. Optimally, the completion percentage for an Air Raid QB would be in the mid-60s. Vanderbilt has used four QBs this year. Redshirt sophomore Patton Robinette (23 of 32 for 240 yards) and true freshman Wade Freebeck (12 of 22 for 171 yards with two interceptions) have moved to the fore. Robinette's status for Saturday is uncertain, however, because of a concussion.
Over the past two games, Kentucky's Stanley "Boom" Williams has shown how he earned his nickname. The true freshman electrified The Swamp by reversing the entire field with a short pass to score a 25-yard touchdown. In the previous game, Williams had a 53-yard TD jaunt against Ohio. Vanderbilt redshirt freshman Ralph Webb (94.5 yards a game) is tied for sixth in the SEC in rushing. Redshirt sophomore Jerron Seymour, who ran for 77 yards against UK in 2013, has battled an undisclosed injury in 2014.
UK's Garrett Johnson was named SEC freshman of the week after catching six passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns at Florida. That yardage figure was a UK freshman record. Vanderbilt sophomore Latevius Rayford (nine catches) leads the Commodore wideouts in receptions; redshirt freshman C.J. Duncan (seven catches) caught his first career TD pass against South Carolina.
Neither of Kentucky's senior tight ends, Steven Borden or Ronnie Shields, has caught a pass in the past two games. Under ex-Stanford assistant Derek Mason, Vanderbilt has imported the Cardinal's tight end-heavy offense and started three TEs against South Carolina. Junior Steven Scheu leads the Commodores in receptions with 12.
Because of injuries and suspensions, Kentucky has already used four redshirt freshmen on its offensive front. It is junior tackle Jordan Swindle, however, who has to correct an early-season "false start" problem. Vanderbilt's offensive line returns four starters and is especially experienced inside, with center Joe Townsend (25 career starts) and guards Jake Bernstein and Spencer Pulley (21 starts each).
After a quiet start, Kentucky senior end Za'Darius Smith came alive at Florida, recording 11 tackles and half a sack. Sophomore end and linebacker Jason Hatcher (four tackles, two tackles for loss) also played strongly in The Swamp. Vanderbilt senior nose tackle Vince Taylor is one of the better interior linemen in the SEC. Tackle Caleb Azubike is third in the SEC with four sacks.
Kentucky junior weak-side linebacker Khalid Henderson is tied for ninth in the SEC, averaging seven tackles a game. He had eight stops against Vandy last year. Vanderbilt has shifted to a 3-4 base, which has moved senior Kyle Woestmann (six sacks in 2013) and sophomore Stephen Weatherly (3.5 sacks last year) from defensive end to outside linebacker.
Kentucky cornerback Fred Tiller had a career-high 11 tackles at Florida; in addition, a likely "pick-six" interception bounced off his hands. Vanderbilt has a new starter at every defensive backfield position. Redshirt freshman nickel back Ryan White, a Trinity High School product, had eight tackles last week against South Carolina.
Against Florida, UK punter Landon Foster pinned five of his six punts inside the Gators' 20. Placekicker Austin MacGinnis is 2 of 2 from 50 yards-plus — but 4 of 8 on shorter kicks. Vanderbilt's special teams have scored four touchdowns this year. Darrius Sims ran two kickoffs (91 yards and 100 yards) for TDs against South Carolina. Vandy also has scored on a blocked punt and a recovery of a fumbled punt snap.
Kentucky 30, Vanderbilt 19