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3 Things That Worry Me About Kentucky

Kentucky comes to town, facing a Georgia Bulldog team (and a fanbase) that is possibly still in shock. A chance to sweep the SEC East, undefeated at home, and a chance to send the Seniors out in style, against one of the best Wildcat teams in years. What, me worry?

Kentucky v Georgia Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Here are the three things that I’m NOT worried about Saturday:

1) Fanbase reaction. I had a whole thing about how the bar keeps changing week to week. First it was “we can do no wrong” other than maybe a few extra personal fouls, then after Mizzou it was “Kirby and Mel better coach ‘em up to prevent that again”, then it was “USC was the perfect time to have a down game, so we can be up for Auburn”, and now it is “the most telling thing is how the team responds”. Yeah, I get it. But then again, I don’t.

2) CBS delaying the start of the UGA/UK game. Last week, it was all aflutter when the South Carolina/Florida game decided to test the clock. As a result, my CBS station didn’t show the Georgia game until about 3:45. To boot, had some malfunction and wouldn’t show the game either. Turns out, the refs and Jordan Hare officials were completely in sync with the other crew and delayed our start until Florida finally Florida’d themselves to defeat. With Mississippi State/Arkansas presenting the same challenge this week, I think the run-heavy Bizarros and the QB-less Hogs spin that clock dial faster than you can say “sorry Bert, the contract extension is held up in committee.”

3) Black Jerseys. There. I’ve said it. Earlier this week, Coach Kirby Smart said something to the effect of “well, we’ve always worn red at home.” It is Senior Night. And I believe also a Military Appreciation night. But like our beloved boys said earlier about the Florida game “we haven’t won there in 3 years so we have to earn wearing our red jerseys”, I think the same thing about the black ones – they will be earned (or not) depending on how the team chops wood. Oh, and tackles. And doesn’t commit bad personal fouls. And blocks. And doesn’t blow pass coverage. And catches every pass. And plays really hard in practice. And things like that.

Here are the three things that I AM worried about Saturday:

1) Middle Passing Game. Jake Fromm and Javon Wims have been really good on the back-shoulder fade. And Fromm has hit both Terry Godwin and Mecole Hardman on multiple deep balls – way more than we’ve seen in the last couple of seasons. The hitch routes against South Carolina were textbook for backing the defense out of the box and were extremely effective. But where are the short and intermediate throws down the middle? Almost exclusively (to my recollection: I admit I looked for stats but couldn’t find passing charts), we’ve thrown to the hash marks or outside of them other than the occasional deep post. Sure a couple of slants (/looks at Florida), but it seems the 5-15 yards down the middle of the field have been largely unexplored by UGA receptions.

We all lament not taking advantage of our depth and talent at Tight End. So here are the season-to-date stats: 17 catches for 213 yards and 1 touchdown (7-Isaac Nauta, 6-Charlie Woerner, 2 each for Jeb Blazevich / Jackson Harris). While low volume, it’s over 12.5 yards per reception. And that is money yardage to balance a running attack and hitch pass routes. Kentucky’s defense gives up around 280 yards a game through the air, yet has the #19 ranked rushing defense, so if we don’t exploit this, we’re crazy.

2) Benny Snell. The 5’11” sophomore tailback broke into the spotlight last season, becoming the go-to runner for the Wildcats in the latter half of the schedule. He averages over 101 yards per game, has 15 rushing touchdowns, and is the feature back in a 60/40 run to pass offense. He’s #26 in the country, just two spots behind… you guessed it, Kerryon Johnson of Auburn. And they will run heavy doses of Snell throughout the game, including a lot of Wildcat formations with Snell taking the snap (He’s 0-2 through the air). Does all of this sound familiar? It should, and if you’re like me, it makes you worry.

3) Fast start, faster slow down. The 2017 Georgia Bulldogs have been really good in the first quarter. We’ve scored in the opening 15 minutes in every game. In half the games, we have multiple 1Q scores. And through the first half of the season, the 2nd quarter has been as good or better. But after throwing up 20 points against Missouri in the frame after the first, the 2nd quarter scoring has been reduced to a lone touchdown (versus South Carolina). Nothing against Florida (and I think the entire fanbase pointed that out after extrapolating the 1Q score,) and nothing against Auburn.

Our first or second drives have usually been productive, but it seems either the opponent settles down, or somehow we’re not effective once we snap the ball. We will need to sharpen this up, as Kentucky can definitely score. They’re not world-beaters, but the last 2 games they’ve hung 34 on Ole Miss and 44 on Vanderbilt. So they’re getting better, and we would be wise to do the same.

What worries you about Saturday’s game with the Wildcats? Leave it in the comments below, and as always…