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Kentucky Wildcats Offensive Preview

Who’s ready to see the 82nd best offense magically put up 50 points on the Tigers?

NCAA Football: Kentucky at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Barry Odom picked a bad time to need a must-win. After the Nashville-No-Show, the Tigers are looking to bounce back to recover momentum and they’ll have to do so against the team who has harnessed the black magic necessary to defeat Missouri every year for the past four years. No matter how good or bad either unit is, the Wildcats always find a way to win in the end. Let’s see what the current lineup is so we’ll know exactly who to curse as their sorcery beguiles every defensive front the Tigers throw at them! (editor’s note: he’s kidding, guys. We know that Kentucky probably doesn’t practice witchcraft)

NCAA Football: Arkansas at Kentucky
Lynn Bowden, Jr.
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports


Lynn Bowden, Jr. - JR: 12-30 (40%)/134 yards/1 TD/0 INTs/11.2 ypc/3.9 ypa

Sawyer Smith - JR: 54-117 (46.2%)/665 yards/4 TDs/5 INTs/12.3 ypc/4.9 ypa

Running Back

Asim Rose - JR: 91 rushes/457 yards/5.0 ypc/2 TDs/4.32 HLT/51.7% OPP/45.1% success

Kavosiey Smoke - FR: 58 rushes/333 yards/5.7 ypc/3 TDs/5.36 HLT/55.2% OPP/43.1% success (also obvious all-name team nomination here)

The stat: Rushing success rate

I know this is going to surprise you, but a team that lost its starting quarterback and has turned to a wide receiver to relieve the backup quarterback is not very good at throwing the ball. Unfortunately, scrambling quarterbacks, and backup quarterbacks in particular, tend to find ways to beat the Missouri defense and...well...Lynn Bowden has a chance to join an elite fraternity with Connor Shaw, Michael Scarnecchia, and Mo Hasan. Kentucky’s line is elite at opening 4-yard holes and the backs are pretty good at tacking on extra yards after that. If the end of the game shows a rushing success rate of under...say, 38%, then I feel good about the defensive performance.

NCAA Football: Kentucky at Mississippi State
Ahmad Wagner
Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports


Ahmad Wagner - SR: 29 targets/12 catches (41.4%)/248 yards/2 TDs/20.7 ypc/8.6 ypt

DeMarcus Harris - FR: 1 target/0 catches


Allen Dailey, Jr. - SO: 14 targets/7 catches (50%)/75 yards/0 TDs/10.7 ypc/5.4 ypt

Clevan Thomas, Jr. - SO: 10 targets/5 catches (50%)/28 yards/1 TD/5.6 ypc/2.8 ypt

Z Receiver

Josh Ali - JR: 32 targets/14 catches (43.8%)/133 yards/1 TD/9.5 ypc/4.2 ypt

Bryce Oliver - R-FR: 7 targets/3 catches (42.9%)/49 yards/1 TD/16.3 ypc/7.0 ypt

Tight End

Justin Rigg - R-JR: 17 targets/9 catches (52.9%)/107 yards/0 TDs/11.9 ypc/6.3 ypt

Keaton Upshaw - R-FR: 9 targets/6 catches (66.7%)/70 yards/1 TD/11.7 ypc/7.8 ypt

The stat: ....I mean basically the run game again? Jklol

Kentucky is actually worse at passing the ball than Vanderbilt is. Their best receiver is now a quarterback, no receiver with more than 15 targets has a catch rate better than 55% OR a success rate over 43%, and only Ahmad Wagner has any positive explosiveness so far this season. The Tiger secondary has consistently been excellent and I expect that to continue. If the Wildcats find any success through the air then something has gone terribly wrong.

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Kentucky
Landon Young
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Left Tackle

Landon Young - R-JR

Naasir Watkins - R-SO

Left Guard

Logan Stenberg - R-SR

Kenneth Horsey - R-FR


Drake Jackson - R-JR

Quintin Wilson - R-FR

Right Guard

Luke Fortner - R-JR

Mason Wolfe - R-SR

Right Tackle

Darian Kinnard - SO

Naasir Watkins - R-SO (double duty!)

The stat: Havoc Rate

If it feels like the Kentucky offense is very similar to the Vanderbilt offense, you would be correct. They’re going to run it 40+ times, sprinkle in some screens and sideline passes to mix it up, and basically try to blugeon you in a shortened game. The Wildcat offensive line is especially good at avoiding sacks and - as mentioned - excellent at opening running lanes. They fall apart on passing downs, but are efficient enough to avoid those most of the time. There probably won’t be a lot of sack available but the havoc rate will have to be high: tackles for loss, passes broken up, interceptions: If the Tigers get back to their season avearge of 24% havoc rate that bodes well for stopping the Wildcat attack.