Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Sea of Blue Responds to VSL's Questions

VSL and A Sea of Blue did a Q&A exchange this week getting ready for this Saturday's match-up. Our answers will be posted Friday morning on their site. Here are their answers to our questions:

1. Coming off a bye week, after a disappointing loss to Mississippi State, how do you expect the team to come out of the box? Strong and focused? Or somewhat slow given the week off?

I think we will come out strong. Its a lot easier to play football when you don't think about the pain your knee is in, or how much you ache from bruises. Sometimes, teams come out slow after a layoff, but that hasn't been the case in the SEC this year. It's always a challenge to keep proper motivation during a layoff, which is why our schedule now only contains one game -- Vanderbilt.

2. How concerned are you about the Wildcats looking past the Commodores given that they end the year against UGA and UT with a shot to win the SEC East?

Not concerned at all. First of all, we need this game more than we need the others. Yeah, it would be nice to go down and beat Georgia between the hedges, but the odds on that are long and I think the team knows it. Beating UT would be great, but that is two weeks away and we haven't beaten them since the industrial revolution.

This game we need just to have a record equal to last years', and I think this team really wants it bad, especially after being embarrassed by Mississippi State at home.

3. What are you most concerned about on the defensive side of ball?

Everything. Vanderbilt has a solid ground game as well as Earl Bennett. If Adams or Nickson could be counted on to get Bennett the ball a lot, I would be more worried about our secondary, because our starting safety is out injured for the rest of the regular season. But we have yet to prove we can stop anybody against the run, and if Vandy is able to run it on us, it hurts our chances. We are much healthier in the D-line and linebacking spots than we were against MSU, so I hope we play the run strong.

4. What happened in the Miss. State game? Why did you lose?

Good question. I wish I could answer, but like most people, I can only speculate. I think the injuries and tough season bumps and bruises had just built up enough so that the team was looking forward to some rest -- they just wanted to get the game over with quickly. When that didn't happen, Kentucky began making mental errors, and eventually just failed to fire. Also, MSU had a lot to do with it -- they played great, smash-mouth SEC football and absolutely deserved to win. MSU is an improving football team, and they just came in and took it to us.

It was kind of predictable, almost, like a trap game where you are looking over somebody who is better than you think -- only Kentucky was looking forward to a break rather than to an opponent. They got to the break, but with one more loss than they figured. Obviously, the fact that we were down to our fifth string running back was a big problem. I also think the play calling was questionable, also -- coaches get tired of a long season too, I guess.

5. If you were drawing up a game plan to contain the UK offense, specifically Woodson, what would it look like?

It's relatively easy, really, in theory -- just way harder in practice. If you can stop Kentucky's running game, Woodson's effectiveness drops pretty quickly. Our O-line is better than expected, but if you can keep our backs in check, getting pressure on Woodson is very possible, and he doesn't handle pressure particularly well, especially lately. Another thing to do is to deny the vertical pass -- concede the underneath routes. Kentucky has a tendency to get impatient with that, and can make mistakes. If we beat you deep, you will ... suffer.

Stop the run, and the passing game will often sputter. Oh, Kentucky will still score the football -- too much talent not to, but the running game enables our offense to be one of the most potent in Division I. We haven't shown the same ability to pass successfully when the run is not there as we did last year.

6. UK has only played 2 games on the road going into Saturday, are you concerned about this team's relative inexperience this season in playing on the road in the SEC given you play 2 of your last 3 away from Lexington?

Yes, that is a concern. We have a .500 road record this year, but some of our worst football was played in Columbia when we went up against the Gamecocks. The good news for this game is that Kentucky fans travel pretty well, and we love to go to Nashville as the huge Kentucky turnout at the Music City Bowl last year will attest. Not only is Nashville a great town, but it's only about a 4-5 hour easy drive, depending on whether you are coming from Louisville or Lexington. It's obviously just a short jaunt from southwestern Kentucky.

I look for UK to be well represented, and that should help. I expect a hungry, focused team to show up in Nashville Saturday, and we are definitely going to be highly motivated to win this game. Yes, Vanderbilt has a very good team this year and will be ready, but the 'Dores are starting to get a little nicked up in this long SEC campaign, and we are as healthy as we have been all year. If Vandy beats us on Saturday, there are no excuses available to Kentucky.

Bottom line -- I think Kentucky takes this one 35-21.


Aaron said...

Let me start by saying the blog swaps have been great this year.

That being said, it think this is going to be a great game. I think the match up of Vandy's D against Woodson and the Cats is going to be great. This is a must win for both teams, and i think they are both going to play up to the occasion.

I think this game comes down to play calling. Vandy has to run the ball well on first down. However, simply running the ball right up the middle will not work, we need some imagination in this game. I would like to see some reverses. I would also like to see so quick outs to His Name is. Putting the ball in his hands is key. QB play is also important for Vandy, whoever is in HAS to come up big.

Woodson is the answer for the Cats, but he has been exposed this year and pressure (as noted) is the key. I hope Vandy can get to him by effective blitzing. The front 4 must play well.

I have a feeling that Vandy is going to take this game and like in 03 the students will rush the field, tear down the goal post, carry them down west end. All to the dismay of the kentucy fans in blue.

21-18 Dores!

Anonymous said...

How did that Garnder Webb game work out for you guys?

Just asking.

Anonymous said...

"you guys" meaning UK fans of course...and oh yes, american idol still sucks

Douglas James said...

Posted on in an article of the hot prospects right now:

Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt
Everyone knows about Jake Long, Sam Baker and even Gosder Cherilus but Vandy's Chris Williams has ever so quietly been making a move toward that #4 offensive tackle spot in the rankings. Williams has good size and is very athletic so physically he has just about everything you look for and he has really taken his game to that next level as a senior. It appears as though Williams has now solidified himself as at least a 2nd or 3rd round pick and depending on which underclassmen come out some feel he could even land in round one.

Anonymous said...

The only admirable quality of KY is that Ashley Judd shows up for basketball games.

Doug James, I sure as hell hope Williams plays like a 2nd round pick this weekend.

Stanimal said...

If our tackles are so ridiculous, why can none of our RBs run the football

Douglas James said...

Because opposing teams put 8 or 9 guys in the box every down because are quarterbacks can't get the ball to our receivers down the field (most completed passes are for like 4-5 yards)

Anonymous said...

The run blocking has NOT been up to what was expected this year imho

Truzenzuzex said...

What a great game you guys played.

It would have been just as fitting for you to have won as Kentucky. Your defense is simply powerful.

I guess that debacle down in Florida was just a bad day. Man, I can't recall a single team this year that dominated our offense so.

Good luck against the Vols and the Demon Decons. You deserve a bowl this year, and I swear, I hope you get one.