Kentucky Wildcats vs. Georgia Bulldogs Complete Game PreviewNovember 4, 2015
If there is one word to describe the Kentucky-Georgia game on Saturday, it would have to be redemption.
The Wildcats are coming off a rough 52-21 home loss to Tennessee. They are now 4-4 with a 2-4 conference record. The Bulldogs had just as bad of a loss, as they were blown out by Florida 27-3. They are now 5-3 with a 3-3 record in SEC play.
This game is not the most attractive game on the SEC slate, but this has a chance to be the most compelling simply because both teams will want to bounce back after tough losses.
However, with this game having a noon start time, let’s hope there are not a lot of empty seats at Sanford Stadium.
Date: Nov. 7, 2015
Time: Noon ET
Place: Sanford Stadium; Athens, Georgia
TV: SEC Network
Radio: UK Sports Network, Georgia Bulldogs Sports Network, Sirius/XM 145/191
Odds: Georgia is favored by 14 points, according to Odds Shark.
When Kentucky Has the Football
Kentucky’s offense has not been a threat this season, as the Wildcats rank ninth in the SEC in total offense and 11th in the SEC in scoring offense.
The reason for the offensive struggles is the inconsistent play of Patrick Towles, who has thrown nine touchdown passes and 10 interceptions this season. In the 52-21 loss to Tennessee last week, Towles was 16-of-33 for 184 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He finished with a rating of 28.9.
The one bright spot on offense is Stanley “Boom” Williams, who is ninth in the SEC with 563 rushing yards and three touchdowns. However, he did leave the Tennessee game early because of an elbow injury, so we’ll see if he’ll be ready to go.
Garrett Johnson is a legitimate deep threat for the Wildcats. He had two catches for 50 yards and one score on Saturday.
The Wildcats are going up against a Bulldogs defense that is struggling as of late, especially in the run game. The Bulldogs are ninth in the conference in rushing defense, allowing 138 yards per game. And for the second consecutive year, Florida was able to run over the Bulldogs defense, as it rushed for 258 yards in the win.
If there is one good thing about the group, it is second in the SEC in pass defense. Thanks in large part to an experienced group led by Quincy Mauger and Dominick Sanders, the Bulldogs have allowed only 183 passing yards per game and are only allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 53 percent of their passes.
When Georgia Has the Football
Last year, Georgia finished first in the SEC in scoring, averaging 41.3 points per game. This year, the Bulldogs are ninth with an average of 29.4 points per game.
The problem is the inconsistency at quarterback, and the injury to Nick Chubb has been an issue as well. Last week, Faton Bauta got his first career start at quarterback—he threw four interceptions. Greyson Lambert has been the starter all season long, but after struggling in the previous three games, the coaching staff decided to make a change for the Florida game.
Brian Schottenheimer Didn't Use Faton Bauta Effectively - https://t.co/XKlifSmGHx pic.twitter.com/h6B3JAcJ57— SicEmDawgs.com (@SicEmDawgscom) November 2, 2015
And according to the depth chart for this week’s game, either Lambert or Bauta will get the start against the Wildcats.
The good news for Georgia is it is going up against a Kentucky team that is 13th in the SEC in scoring defense (29.1) points per game. In the last three games, the Wildcats have given up 30 points or more, which has resulted in three losses.
The Wildcats are also 11th in the conference in rushing and passing defense, which is why they are giving up a lot of points.
Linebacker Josh Forrest is the leader of the defense, as he has tallied 66 tackles and 3.5 sacks through eight games.
Player to Watch for Kentucky: Mikel Horton
If there was one good thing to take away from the loss to Tennessee on Saturday, it would have to be the breakout performance of running back Mikel Horton.
Williams’ injury meant that Horton had to carry the load, and he ended the night rushing for 109 yards on 14 carries. Before the Tennessee game, Horton rushed for 105 yards on 38 carries in the Wildcats’ first seven games.
#mikelhorton puts the #kentuckywildcats on the board #bbn its 7-7 https://t.co/g55KrTQVI3— Art Vandelay (@PJordan_32714) September 12, 2015
“This opportunity I got today, I took advantage of it, and it’s more to come,” Horton said to Kyle Tucker of the Courier-Journal. “I’m going to work hard to make Kentucky a perfect program.”
Horton rushed for 7.8 yards per carry against a Tennessee team that allowed Oklahoma, Alabama and Florida to rush only 3.3 yards per carry.
As a freshman, Horton rushed for 306 yards on 59 carries and scored twice. So he gave fans a glimpse of what he was capable of last year.
And with Williams’ status for Saturday uncertain, Horton will likely have a chance to make a statement at Sanford Stadium.
Player to Watch for Georgia: Davin Bellamy
It was not a good effort from the Georgia defense on Saturday against Florida, as the unit allowed 413 yards of total offense.
However, linebacker Davin Bellamy showed that he’s progressing as a player with seven tackles, two tackles for loss and one sack.
“He plays hard, but he’s got to learn what to do and why it’s important to do it that way,” Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt said to David Paschall of the Albany Herald. “When he does that, he’ll have a chance to be a really good football player. He’s just a redshirt sophomore, so he’s got a lot of football ahead of him.”
UGA football notebook: offensive struggles, defense, and Davin Bellamy - Red and Black https://t.co/nqrc8mRukl pic.twitter.com/RfJkAF9XkV— Overnewser - NFL (@nflovernewz) November 1, 2015
So far this season, Bellamy has notched 27 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and two forced fumbles. He has been seeing more playing time because of Jordan Jenkins' injured hip and Leonard Floyd playing a variety of positions. Bellamy will look to improve on those numbers Saturday against a struggling Kentucky offense.
Final Prediction: Georgia 28, Kentucky 14
Despite not knowing who will start at quarterback, Georgia has too much talent to go a third consecutive game where it doesn't score a touchdown. The Bulldogs need to establish the run with Sony Michel and Keith Marshall, and either Lambert or Bauta can work off of it with play action.
The Wildcats' only chance is to get Horton going. If that happens, then they can put Towles in short-yardage situations, and he would then be able to make easier plays in the passing game.
However, with the Bulldogs being at home and the speculation about head coach Mark Richt’s future with the program, the Bulldogs should come out on Saturday and put together a strong performance. The win may need nothing when it comes to the postseason, but it will be a start for the Bulldogs to finish the season strong.