The Vanderbilt Commodores (2-7) will try to pile on to a Kentucky Wildcats (6-3) squad that is falling away slightly after a stunning start to the season. Here are the three keys to a Vanderbilt win.
By Steve Wright
1 – Make it a fight
Kentucky was as explosive as it will ever be last week in a tilt with Tennessee that the Wildcats lost 45-42 despite controlling the clock and the pace of the game. That is now, however, how Kentucky wants to play. The fits into the ‘Dores wheelhouse as keeping this slow, methodical, and allowing the ground game to get going. Kentucky doesn’t do a great job of turning the ball over, so if Vandy is able to stop Chris Rodriguez and the Kentucky rushing game they will be able to keep this close late into the game.
2 – Defense has to step up
Vanderbilt could easily have a pair of SEC wins on the resume right now. The Commodores were in the fight in the fourth quarter against South Carolina (leading late) and Mizzou (two points down late) but the defense failed to hold up either time and both teams scored easy touchdowns against Vandy in crunch situations. Staying in the fight to the fourth quarter only works if in the fourth quarter good things happen. To this point in the season those good things have been lacking late.
3 – Key on J.J. Weaver
Kentucky has had a habit of producing star linebackers of late and J.J. Weaver is the latest of those. He picked up 2.5 sacks last week in the defeat at the hands of Tennessee and he is now fourth in the conference in sacks. He just has a knack for getting to the quarterback and making drive-killing plays, a problem for a Vanderbilt team that has no explosion and no ability to pick up chunk plays when behind the chains. Weaver can’t be allowed to take over the game in big moments.