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Need to be more like a Dawg

Do you remember what happened on November 21st, 2009? Not a significant day in world history, per se. However, it was a semi-notable day in Dawgs history. This was the last time the Dawgs lost to the Kentucky Wildcats, a 34-27 thriller at Sanford Stadium. Yours truly was in attendance that day, with plans of enjoying the final night game in Athens before a long offseason. Random side note, Kentucky had a young Randall Cobb on that team. But, I digress. The Dawgs outgained the Cats 487-260 in total yardage in the game, but two second half interceptions by Joe Cox proved to be the difference. After Cox's last interception with 2 minutes left in the game, Dawgs fans headed for the exits. I remember a young gentlemen in the 300 section leaning over the railing and yelling "GEORGIA NEVER QUIT ON YOU" towards the departing fans. Let's just say that was a different time in Dawgs history.....

Last week, I said I'd enter full panic mode if the Junkyard Dawgs did not dominate the trenches. Panic meter is not all the way turned up yet. We will say it's at 60% for now. Auburn had some success exploiting the edges last week, but the interior of the Dawgs DL held up alright. The Dawgs OL play was a mixed bag; thought that unit held up pretty well in pass protection, but allowed 7 TFL on running plays and the Dawgs only averaged 3.6 YPC on the day. The Auburn run defense is stout, but Kentucky is on another level, as the Cats are giving up an average of just 75 yards per game on the ground through 5 games. Dare I say, the Team Stats below for Kentucky look very similar to the post Bobo (v1)/pre-Monken UGA teams. Time for us to get back to business and "BE MORE LIKE DAWGS" this week.

  1. After week 5, Bill Connelly's SP+ has the Cats ranked 21st overall (53rd offensive and 10th defensive). After grinding out a win on the Plains, the Dawgs dropped to 4th overall (11th offensive and 5th defensive).

  2. UK is ranked 31st overall in the 247 Sports College Football Team Talent Composite

  3. Kentucky hit the transfer portal hard this offseason. Running back Ray Davis transferred in from Vanderbilt and has been the crown jewel of the portal class so far, with nearly 600 yards rushing (8 YPC) and ~150 receiving yards on the season. After 4 years at NC State, QB Devin Leary was brought in to replace Will Levis. Leary is 88th nationally in QBR through 5 games and has probably underperformed the expectations of UK fans. That will all be forgiven if he performs well on Saturday.

  4. I think it would be fair to expect a run heavy attack given the success Kentucky has had on the ground. However, don't forget that Kentucky has 3 stud WRs in Tayvion Robinson, Barion Brown, and Dane Key. And after a year with the Rams, OC Liam Coen is back as the play caller for Kentucky. The Cats attempted 42 passes against the Dawgs in 2021 with Coen calling plays, and while that was largely a function of the impenetrable 2021 Dawgs run defense, Coen is not afraid to take the shots. Devin Leary will be the key to the game for Kentucky on Saturday. If he's on, things could get dicey.

  5. If you aren't familiar with the game of Kentucky's Deone Walker, he is a 350 pound havoc machine in the middle of the Kentucky DL. He can disrupt any game, and the Dawgs interior will have their hands full Saturday. To give them credit, the Kentucky defense is pretty loaded at all levels. Senior J.J. Weaver and Georgia native Trevin Wallace are excellent linebackers for the Cats, and Maxwell Hairston has come on strong in the secondary. This defense has a ton of upperclassmen that have never beaten the Dawgs, and they are a salty bunch.

One final thought. Outside of a 1st half interception, I thought Carson Beck had a really strong showing at Auburn. Beck finished the day with over 300 yards passing (9.5 YPA) and a QBR of 91.4 It certainly helps when you have the option to put the game in the hands of the best player in the country, Brock Bowers (ICYMI). Still, give credit to Beck for not getting rattled after a less than ideal start. Ladd McConkey didn't blow up the stat sheet, but had a couple of critical receptions on 3rd down to keep drives going. I'm sure Beck is glad to have him back.

See you Saturday. Go Dawgs!

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