The Kentucky Wildcats have been hurt by injuries this season. The 2022 campaign is less a failure of Mark Stoops and the coaching staff than it is a portrait of bad and untimely luck mixed with a lack of depth at key positions.
By Matt Zemek
At Georgia or Alabama, there is simply no excuse for not having a good backup quarterback. The same can’t be said for Kentucky, which obviously won’t get the same pick of the crop in terms of quarterback prospects. Nevertheless, it remains true that when Will Levis got hurt, the margin for error evaporated with this team and this offense. Kentucky, a blue-blood program in basketball, realized what happens to a non-blue-blood football program when one or two key positions are ravaged by injury.
This happens. It’s not a reason to have less faith in Stoops, who has done such a superb job in Lexington. It is, however, a lesson for him and his staff: Continue to look for transfer portal additions and try to find multiple depth pieces at positions of need.
While Kentucky tries to figure out a solution on that front, the Wildcats’ wounded season continues. UK will try to halt its slide and establish November stability by beating a team it should expect to handle: the Missouri Tigers.
1 – Old-time SEC football
This will be your father’s or grandfather’s style of SEC football. In an age of spread offenses and Star Wars passing attacks, Kentucky-Mizzou will be a throwback game to the 1970s and 1980s. Defense, field position, kicking game. These two teams lean on their defenses. They know that turnovers will be costly. They know that field position figures to matter a lot. May the best team win.
2 – Maintain the Burden on Missouri
Missouri receiver Luther Burden is the third five-star recruit the Tigers have brought into the program since the star ratings were tracked in national recruiting. Burden has not taken off this year. The Missouri offense has not been able to get unshackled. Kentucky has to make sure this is not the game in which Burden busts loose. UK can handle anything and everything Missouri might have to offer in the run game. Keeping Burden under wraps is a top priority for Stoops and the Cats on defense.
3 – Don’t reinvent the wheel on offense
Kentucky’s offense is what it is: limited and inconsistent. The Wildcats need to orient their offense around being on schedule, and getting into second-down situations with moderate yards to go. Getting five or six yards on first down, to set up favorable down-and-distance situations, has to be the centerpiece of Big Blue’s offensive approach in this game. Kentucky’s best plays need to be on first down so that UK avoids a lot of obvious third-down passing situations.